Sunday, July 22, 2007

Wiley Post ~ First Solo Flight Around the World ~ 74 years ago

First Solo Flight Around the World

July 15-22, 1933
Wiley Post and Gatty

The Winnie Mae

Wiley Post and the first pressurized suit

Wiley Post was part of the lexicon when I was growing up. Now, his name is rarely heard, but his contributions affect our lives everyday.

Today is the 74th Anniversary of the first solo flight around the world. It took 7 days, 19 hours, 49 minutes for Wiley Post to fly around the world - 15,596 miles from July 15 - 22, 1933. He flew in his plane, the Winnie Mae, named after his beloved wife, Mae. He had upgraded his plane with an autopilot device and a radio compass.

This flight followed the first ever flight in a airplane around the world in July 1931. Wiley Post and Harold Charles Gatty covered 15,474 miles in 8 days, 15 hours, 51 minutes, in the same Lockheed Vega monoplane. Previously, this had been done by a Graf Zeppelin in 1929 in 21 days.

Wiley Post was born in Grand Plain, near Grand Saline, Texas November 22, 1898. His short life ended on August 15, 1935 in a plane crash near Point Barrow, Alaska. He lost an eye in the oil fields when he was 25, and used the settlement to purchase his first airplane. Post was known for the eye patch that he sported.

Wiley Post was interested in flying into the stratosphere, and helped to develop the first pressurized flight suit. He then flew the Winnie Mae into the stratosphere, making him the first into 'space' at an altitude of 50,000 feet.

In the 1930's he was a recognized hero in America and celebrated where ever he went. Wiley Post's daring and determination charted a course for American flight. How far we have come in the past 74 years!!!!

The Winnie Mae is part of the collection of the National Air and Space Museum.

More on Wiley Post:


Ron Simpson said...

There is an airport in OKC named afer him. There are a lot of old WW2 planes housed out there. Of course the big airport is named after Will Rogers.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually trying to find a song from my childhood about the death of Will Rogers and Wiley Post. There was a (somewhat whiny) line that goes: "Will and Wiley were going to Alaska, the land of the midnite sun."

Does anyone know where I can get the lyrics? Have tried a few lyrics websites without any success. Thanks.