Wiley Post Lockheed Vega Winnie Mae
W. W. Schoaf
First Albuquerque Visit: 1930
The Lockheed Vega was a five to seven seat high-wing monoplane airliner built by the Lockheed Corporation starting in 1927. It became famous for its use by a number of record-breaking pilots who were attracted to its high speed and long range. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in one, and Wiley Post used his to prove the existence of the jet stream after having flown around the world twice.
Wiley Hardeman Post (November 22, 1898 – August 15, 1935) was a famed American aviator in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Post was the first pilot to fly solo around the world. Also known for his work in high-altitude flying, Post helped develop one of the first pressure suits and discovered the jet stream. On August 15, 1935, Post and American humorist Will Rogers were killed when Post’s aircraft crashed on takeoff from a lagoon near Point Barrow in the Territory of Alaska.
Post was the personal pilot of wealthy Oklahoma oilmen Powell Briscoe and F.C. Hall in 1930 when Hall bought a high-wing, single-engine Lockheed Vega, one of the most famous record-breaking aircraft of the early 1930s. The oilman nicknamed it the Winnie Mae after his daughter, and Post achieved his first national prominence in it by winning the National Air Race Derby, from Los Angeles to Chicago.
Wiley Post and the Winnie Mae were frequent visitors to Albuquerque. However, none of Post’s round-the-world flights went through Albuquerque. Several flights for the testing of the B. F. Goodrich high altitude pressure suit are reported to have taken place from the Albuquerque Airport at Oxnard Field in 1933. In order to get the plane to a high altitude the landing gear was jettisoned after take off. A belly skid was installed and after the record altitude test the aircraft came in for a landing on its belly.
The Winnie Mae is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
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