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What's In A Name?

by John M. White |

It's the early 30's, and aviation is all the rage. Records are constantly being set, and then broken, time and again. The air was filled with romance, and people wanted to be a part of it, and part of the romance was naming the aircraft a pilot would attempt to set a record in. So, what's in a name? Well, one of the names that comes to my mind is the Winnie Mae, a Lockheed Vega Model 5C. Perhaps you heard of her? She is pretty famous, and her pilot set a number of records in her, including 2, count them, 2 around-the-world records. Her pilot? Why, Wiley Post, of course. You see, this was a very special aircraft that was build for a gentleman named F.C. Hall, who named the aircraft after his daughter - Winnie Mae - and then hired Wiley Post to fly her. Kind of like a corporate pilot job, right? But this one involved a lot of risk. With the agreement of F.C. Hall Wiley Post entered the National Air Races in 1930 and flew her to her very first record: Los Angeles to Chicago in 9 hours 9 minutes and 4 seconds on August 27th, 1930. If you think about it its pretty amazing: 80 years ago Wiley Post flew from Los Angeles to Chicago in 9 hours and a bit; today it takes about the same amount of time thanks to Al Queda, the TSA and stupidity. Lockheed Vega 5C - the "Winnie Mae" on All Things Aviation We sure haven't come very far, have we? But, I digress. This famous duo, Wiley Post and his faithful steed the Winnie Mae, set many records, all of which were recorded on the side of the aircraft's fuselage. From June 23rd, 1931 Wiley Post, the Winnie Mae and a navigator named Harold Gatty left New York to circle the world in record time via Newfoundland, England, Germany, Russia, Russian Siberia, Alaska, Canada, Cleveland and arriving back in New Your 8 days 15 hours and 51 minutes later. Upon his return Wiley Post spent the next year conducting various test flights with the aircraft, the engine was overhauled, an auto pilot was installed along with a radio compass, both of which were in the final stages of development by the Sperry Gyroscope Company. (To be continued ...) Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 I hope you either take up parachute jumping or stay out of single motored airplanes at night. — Charles A. Lindbergh, to Wiley Post, 1931. ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!

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