Friedrich Schmiedl

Born 1902 in Schwertberg, Upper Austria

Died 1994 in Graz


Friedrich Schmiedl, educated in a college for civil engineering, studied a combination of science and technology at the University of Graz and the Graz University of Technology after the First World War. More of an experimentalist than a theore-tician he soon turned away from academic education and worked as a civil engineer.

Nevertheless he has become known for the world's first rocket launches for the purpose of transporting mail. His first experiments with solid fuel rockets were made in 1918 and after several unsuccessful attempts he started in 1931 his “Experimental Rocket No. 7”, which transported 102 letters, from Schöckl near Graz to a small village about 5 kilometers apart. It was remotely controlled and the landing was accomplished by a parachute. Schmiedl proposed that the postal rocket transports mail between villages in mountainous regions and between the large capitals around the world. He also had various other applications in mind (e.g. sounding rockets, photo-reconnaissance rockets, etc.) and he performed hundreds of rocket test runs (mainly with solid fuels) and several other successful mail rocket launches.  He could not convince any Austrian officials of the merits of his developments.

One of the reasons his ideas about rocket mail transportation never materialised was the rapid improvement in aviation engineering during this period and the subsequent establishment of airmail delivery services between major capitals.