What do these two world-famous, Oklahoma-raised men have in common?
Wiley Hardeman Post (November 22, 1898 — August 15, 1935), one of the most colorful figures of the early years of American aviation, set many records. He was the first pilot to fly solo around the world. He was known for high altitude flying and helped develop one of the first pressure suits. In 1926, an oil field accident cost him his left eye, but he used the settlement money to buy his first aircraft.
Post was born in Texas to farmer parents William Francis and Mae Quinlan Post, but his family moved to Oklahoma when he was five. His aviation career began at age 26 as a parachutist for a flying circus, and he became well known on the barnstorming circuit. Post was the personal pilot of wealthy Oklahoma oilmen who bought a high-wing, single-engine Lockheed Vega, one of the most famous record-breaking aircraft of the early 1930s. In the Winnie Mae, Post won the National Air Race Derby from Los Angeles to Chicago.
William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers (November 4, 1879 — August 15, 1935) was a Cherokee-American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer and actor. He was the father of U.S. Congressman and WWII Veteran Will Rogers, Jr.
Rogers traveled around the world three times, made 71 movies (50 silent films and 21 “talkies”), wrote more than 4,000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns and is quoted (and loved) to this day. He’s the man who said, “I’ve never met a man I didn’t like” and “There are no strangers; just friends I haven’t met yet.”
When Post Narrowly Escaped Disaster:
Natives of Flat, Alaska, helping right Wiley Post’s plane, the Winnie Mae, after Post had nosed over in a cross wind July 20 after being in the air 22 hours and 32 minutes on his flight from Khabarovsk, Siberia. The only damage was a broken propeller, and a new one was brought to Flat by Joe Crosson, pioneer Alaska flier. The new propeller installed, Post continued his flight to Fairbanks, and then on to Edmonton and New York to complete his remarkable solo flight around the world.
Mr. Post carried this photograph to New York from Flat for the Associated Press.”
Rogers and Post met and became friends when Post flew Rogers to a rodeo.
On August 15, 1935, Wiley Post and Will Rogers were killed when Post’s plane crashed on takeoff from a lagoon near Point Barrow, in Alaska.
Two great Americans, gone in an instant.