A Moment in Air Force History

Who was the first person to fly solo around the world?

A. Phineas Fogg
B. Charles Lindbergh
C. Wiley Post
D. Dick Smith

On July 22, 1933, Wiley Post completed his solo flight around the world. He flew about 15,600 miles in seven days and 19 hours in a Lockheed Vega named for his employer’s daughter Winnie Mae. The employer, F.C. Hall, bought the plane for Wiley’s record-setting flights. In June 1931, Wiley Post had flown around the world with a navigator, Harold Gatty, in eight days, 16 hours. He was also a scientific innovator, designing a pressure suit with the B.F. Goodrich Company that allowed him to fly the Winnie Mae up to 50,000 feet setting an unofficial record and discovering the jet stream. On Aug. 15, 1935, Wiley Post and the humorist Will Rogers were killed in a crash at Point Barrow, Alaska. The Winnie Mae is now on display in the Smithsonian.

Did You Know? Phineas Fogg is the hero of Jules Verne’s book “Around the World in 80 Days.” Set in 1872, Fogg and his servant, Passepartout, fly a balloon around the world to win a bet. Charles Lindbergh was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. He completed his flight May 20, 1927. Dick Smith was the first to fly a helicopter solo around the world. He completed his flight July 22, 1983.
An Australian businessman, Dick Smith is also known for other aviation feats such as the first non-stop balloon flight across the Australian continent (1993), the first to fly around the world via the poles (1989) and the first to fly a helicopter to the North Pole (1987).

(Courtesy of 435th Air Base Wing and 86th Airlift Wing History offices)