Inducted in 1970
First To Fly Solo Around The World, 1933
1898 – 1935
Between July 15 and 22, 1933, in a single engine Lockheed Vega equipped with a Sperry automatic pilot, a radio direction finder and other new devices, Wiley Hardeman Post made a high-speed flight around the world. The solo flight in the “Winnie Mae” lasted seven days, 18 hours and 49 minutes and covered 15,596 miles. It was perhaps the most remarkable display of flying endurance of the decade.
Earlier, in 1931, ex-barnstormer Post and navigator Harold Gatty had thrilled the nation by dashing around the world in the Winnie Mae. The flight was not only a great technical achievement, but also one that demanded extraordinary fortitude. The Vega was airborne over 106 hours; neither Post nor Gatty had an opportunity to sleep. The flight’s elapsed time of eight days, 15 hours and 51 minutes far surpassed the previous record of 21 days set in 1929 by the airship “Graf Zeppelin.”
Post was considered one of the most colorful figures of early aviation. He set many records before being tragically killed in 1935 near Point Barrow, Alaska, in a crash that also took the life of his flying companion, humorist Will Rogers. His aerial achievements proved that shrinking the globe was as much a test of human endurance as a display of technological progress.