Post, Wiley Hardeman
Dare DevilEnshrined 1969 1898-1935
In October 1926 an accident on a drilling rig cost Post his left eye. For some the loss of an eye might put an end to dreams of fame and fortune as a pilot but not for Post. He accepted neither self-pity nor the abandonment of his goals. He knew what he wanted and not even the loss of an eye was going to dissuade him. Indeed, he used the insurance settlement from the accident to purchase his first airplane.
- Post made the first around-the- world solo flight in the Winnie Mae in seven days, 18 hours and 49 ½ minutes in 1931.
- Interested in making flights in the stratosphere, Post conceived and helped design and test the first fully pressurized flying suit and helmet.
- Reached an altitude of 50,000 feet in the super charged Winnie Mae and discovered jet streams.
- Was killed in a 1935 airplane accident with Will Rogers in Point Barrow, Alaska.
Wiley Hardeman Post was born near Grand Saline, Texas in 1898. He died in an airplane takeoff crash with his dear friend, the renowned humorist, Will Rogers, near Point Barrow, Alaska, on August 15th, 1935. In the mere 36 years of his life, Post achieved more than most men who live to a ripe old age. His biography stands as an inspiration to the youth of America.
Post’s exploits were varied. While a young man in oil fields, he lost an eye in December 1925. Post took the insurance compensation, about $1800, and bought his first airplane. In it on June 27th, 1927 he eloped from Sweetwater, Texas with Miss Mae Laine, who now resides in Halls, Texas. In 1928 Post became a personal pilot to F.C. Hall, an Oklahoma oilman, and in Hall’s plane the Winnie Mae, he won the Derby of the National Air Races from Los Angeles to Chicago in 1930. On June 23rd, 1931, he and Harold Gatty, a navigator, took off from Roosevelt Field Long Island, and eight days, fifteen hours and fifty-one minutes later, touched down at Roosevelt Field after circling the globe. In July 1933, Post equipped his plane with a robot pilot and flew solo around the globe in seven days, eighteen hours and forty-nine minutes.
In 1934 he designed his “Man from Mars” flying suit and made an unofficial ascent to 49,000 feet. His altitude experiments, however, were merely incidental to his real purpose of exploring the sub-stratosphere as a medium to high speed transport. He predicted the development of such craft as the supersonic transport and the possibility of space travel. He recognized the importance of biological rhythms to pilot proficiency and fatigue, and was one of the first to conduct human factors research in this area. He conducted secret studies in the U.S. Army’s Air Service’s high altitude chamber which came to light not too long ago. Post discovered the Jet Stream. Post achieved other significant accomplishments in the short span of his life. Post truly stands as the pivotal point between the hit-or-miss techniques of the open cockpit biplane era and the scientific approach of today’s aerospace age.
Post received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1932 by act of Congress and won the Collier Trophy in the same year. In 1934 he won the Gold Medal of Belgium and the Harmon Trophy. He was given two New York City ticker-tape parades and the keys to the city. He was honored twice at the White House by two Presidents, Hoover and Roosevelt. In summary, Wiley Post’s life, though ended by a tragedy, stands as one of monumental achievement. Post was truly a great scientific aviation pioneer and his accomplishments immeasurably aided the advancement of aviation.
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