Almost everyone alive and warm in the 20th century knows
the name of Wiley Post. During the 1920s and early 1930s
he barnstormed, flew in air races, set a round-the-world
record in 1931 (with Harold
navigating), and was the first person to fly solo around
the world in 1933. He was killed in Alaska in 1935, along
with his friend and passenger, popular humorist Will Rogers.
Succinct chronologies of Post's life in aviation are available here
Please follow this link to
see another image of Post with Gatty.
The airplane he is most associated with is the Lockheed
Mae" (NC105W). The image above was shared by
Wiley Apt, a long time FBO operator in New Hampshire.
It shows the
"Winnie Mae" with Harold
Gatty, center, and Wiley Post, right (sans eye patch),
with a police officer on the left for whom the word "lanky"
The photo was taken in Augusta, ME, date unknown, but probably
sometime between 1931 and 1933. This image shows the relatively
formal flight uniform of many of the early fliers: coat and
tie, albeit somewhat rumpled. I have not seen this image in
any of the usual books. It may be an unpublished one. You
may be seeing it for the first time here. Anybody know
if it has been published anywhere? Or the context for this
landing at Augusta?
Wiley Post was a frequent visitor. He landed at Tucson twelve
times between November 17, 1928 and February 17, 1931. His
origins and destinations for most flights were along the Los
Angeles --> El Paso --> Oklahoma axis. Chickasha,
OK was cited as his home base for two flights.
About the three "Winnie Mae" Vegas. Interestingly,
the first Vega to be named "Winnie Mae", NC7954,
was flown to Tucson twice by Post and once by Art
Goebel. To see an image of this airplane, please follow
this link to the Klein
Archive of Aviation Photographs. The second "Winnie
Mae", NC/NR105W, whose fuselage is shown above, cannot
be definitely indentified as landing at Tucson (but see
below). The third "Winnie
Mae" did land at Tucson. See NC905Y.
It was not flown by Post at this time, however.
Below, an image of Wiley Post with the "real" "Winnie Mae" after his around-the-world solo flight. This photograph is from Bettie Lund's album (she was the wife of the late, at the time of this photo, Freddie Lund), courtesy of Andy Heins.
Wiley Post, Autograph Dated 1933
Clearly, his airplanes of choice were Lockheed Vegas, with eleven
of his twelve visits being clearly identified as flown in
Lockheeds. One flight, the one with Harold Gatty as passenger,
was not identified by aircraft registration number, but
was almost certainly the second "Winnie Mae".
His flight to Tucson on March 30, 1930 was noteworthy, because
his passenger was Jerry Vultee,
who had designed the Vega aircraft they flew in. The (almost)
brand new airplane they flew was NC522K, painted white with
red/blue trim. It was a Model 3, built August 27, 1929.
A popular activity by well-known pilots of the era was to sign and sell U.S. postal cachets which commemorated first flights, anniversaries, dedications, etc. As well as the commemoration, it made a few dollars for the pilots. Below, from site visitor Jeff Staines is a U.S. postal cachet commemorating Post and Gatty's round the world flight in 1931.
U.S. Postal Cachet, July 30, 1931 (Source: Staines)
I don't know if Post and Gatty made any money on their signatures on this letter, but Mr. Bernet, a well-known philatelist, had a great souvenir. Mr. Staines says about his cachet, it was "... distributed by the 'Newark Star Eagle' commemorating the Wiley Post - Harold Gatty visit to Newark N.J. on July 30, 1931, autographed by both Post and Gatty...."
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/09/06 REVISED: 09/29/07, 10/17/07, 04/16/08, 03/14/11