What do Wily Post
and Will Rogers
have in common? By now you know that Wiley Post had B.F. Goodrich design a pressure suit for him so that he could fly the Winnie Mae
at high altitudes, and the suit had 3 layers consisting of long underwear, a black rubber pressure bladder and an outer cloth suit. A specially designed pressure helmet with a removable faceplate would seal when Post reached 17,000 feet, accommodated earphones, a throat mike and included a special oxygen breathing system. Oxygen was provided by a double walled vacuum bottle which held liquid oxygen. This pressure suit was the predecessor of the ones worn later by X15 research aircraft and space suits. Wiley Post had a checkered past, having been convicted of stealing a car and sentenced to 10 years in prison, but paroled after only one year. In 1925 Wiley Post met Will Rogers, a fellow Oklahoman, who needed to get to a rodeo and Post flew the famous humorist there. They became fast friends and spent time together, including a trip to Alaska from where they intended to fly Westward to Russia. Post was intent on surveying a mail and passenger route from the West Coast to Russia, and built a hybrid aircraft from the parts of 2 separate wrecks. When the ordered pontoons did not arrive, Post installed some which were intended for a larger, heavier aircraft.
When Post and Rogers departed for Alaska the aircraft was heavily loaded with hunting and fishing equipment, and while Post flew Rogers continued writing on the typewriter he had brought along. After scud running throughout Alaska they finally were departing a lake and, much as some of us have done, Post forgot to switch fuel tanks before takeoff. Unfortunately, the engine quit shortly after becoming airborne and the aircraft crashed into the lagoon tearing of the right wing and killing both Post and Rogers instantly. And thus ended 2 incredible careers, and the lives of 2 pioneers. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect. — Captain A. G. Lamplugh, British Aviation Insurance Group
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