Wiley Hardeman Post was born on 22nd November 1896 near Grand Saline in the County of Van Zandt, Texas. He was the fourth son born to William Francis and Mae Post. He was best known for being one of the best aviators in the world, this is primarily due to flight around the world in 1931 in which he was accompanied by the navigator Harold Gatty, in 1933 he performed a similar flight, however, this time, he flew solo. His pioneering work on the subject of high altitude flying as well as the part he played in the development of early pressure suits are both other reasons he is remembered for.
He earned the reputation as one of the pioneers of space flight due to his achievements in early aviation all of which took place over a two decades prior to the United States space program being established. You can now see the airplane in which he offered these contributions on display in Washington, D.C. at the National Air and Space Museum, his pressure suit is at the same location.
He was born a few years prior to the occurrence of manned flight, his formative years were spent in Northeast Texas after which his farm family headed West and then in 1902 they settled in Abilene. The family later, around 1907, moved on to southwestern Oklahoma. Although he never again lived permanently in Texas, Wiley Hardeman Post worked in Texas while he was employed by Oklahoma oilmen, he was later wed to a fine Texas woman.
Never quite interested in school or life on a farm he received only an elementary education, he did take a course at Sweeney Auto School which lasted seven months. When older he worked in oil fields in Oakland and, soon after the end of World War I, he dabbled in barnstorming, first he was a parachute jumper then later on, after taking some lessons, a pilot. This is how his career, which went on to make aviation history, commenced.
Keen on purchasing his own airplane he once again worked in the oilfield to make the needed money. On 1st October 1926 he was injured and as a result of the accident he lost his left eye. In workmen’s compensation he received around one thousand seven hundred dollars. With these proceeds he bought a plane in which he continued to barnstorm, whilst touring Texas he met Mae Laine. On 27th June 1927 they eloped in his plane and got married in Oklahoma. He and Mae Laine never had children together.
Shortly after getting married Wiley Hardeman Post wrecked his plane and was not able to pay for repairs. He found himself in need of acquiring a stable job and that is how he became a private pilot for F.C. Hall and Powell Briscoe who were oilmen. His job consisted of a Travel Air bi-plane which was open-cockpit. Later on after having flown for the probationary period of around seven hundred hours he was able to get a pilot license, the fact that he was blind in one eye was no problem for him.
Wiley Hardeman Post achievements did end up earning him the renowned reputation as the one who discovered the jet streams. His flight in 1933 had won him the much coveted Harmon International Trophy shared only with James Doolittle, Igor Sikorsky and of course Lindbergh.
On 15th August 1935, in the company of humorist Will Rogers, Wiley Hardeman Post died near Point Barrow, Alaska in an airplane crash. His accomplishments will never be forgotten and are still highly recognized particularly by aviation aficionados and experts the world over.