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Wiley Post

Harold Gatty


Wiley Hardeman Post, 1899-1935, and Harold Charles Gatty, 1903-1957.  Aviation pioneers.  In-person signed 5½" x 8" candid photograph of the record-setting flyers, boldly signed Wiley Post and Harold Gatty.

In 1931, Post and Gatty set a record for an around-the-world flight in the Winnie Mae.  On June 23, they left Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York, the field from which Charles A. Lindbergh departed on his solo transatlantic flight in 1927.  They made 14 stops:  first at Harbor Grace, Newfoundland; then Chester, England; Hanover and Berlin, Germany; Moscow, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Blagoveshchensk, and Khabarovsk, all in the Soviet Union; Nome, Alaska; and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  They then flew to Cleveland, Ohio, and back to New York on July 1.  They traveled 15,474 miles in 8 days, 15 hours, 15 minutes.

This photograph was signed July 23, 1931, exactly one month after Post and Gatty began their flight and just over three weeks after they returned.  Notes on the back say that the photograph was signed in person in Room 516 at the Hotel Kimball in Springfield—undoubtedly Springfield, Massachusetts, where the hotel is now the Kimball Towers Condominiums—and even appear to tell the time of day, although that is now missing.  The photo has been slightly trimmed at the top for previous framing, and with it the right edge of the notes on the back has been removed.

Post bought his first airplane money from a workers compensation award following the loss of his left eye in an Oklahoma oil field accident.  Soon afterward he became the personal pilot of Oklahoma oilman F. C. Hall, who owned a Lockheed Vega, an advanced plane, named the Winnie Mae.  With Halls encouragement, Post entered and won the 1930 Mens Air Derby Race from Los Angeles to Chicago by more than 1½ hours, despite a faulty compass.  Hall then told Post that he could use the plane to seek other air records as well.

The next year, Post decided to try to set a new record for around-the-world flight.  He predicted that he could cut in half the time of the existing record, just over 20 days, set by the dirigible Graf Zepplin.  Post chose Gatty, a renowned Australian pilot and navigator, to accompany him.  A naval cadet, Gatty had accompanied Roscoe Turner on a transcontinental flight in 1929, and in 1930 he flew with Harold Bromley on an unsuccessful Trans-Pacific attempt.  For this flight, Post modified the Winnie Mae and Gatty plotted the itinerary.  Together they shattered the old record and became overnight heroes.

Post later broke that record by flying solo around the world in 7 days, 18 hours, 49 minutes in July 1933.

Both Post and Gatty were innovators.  Post developed a pressure suit for high-altitude flight.  He flew at 40,000 feet above Chicago in his first flight with the suit on September 5, 1934, and later flew as high as 50,000 feet.  He discovered the jet stream and made the first major practical advances in pressurized flight.  Gatty devised the ground-speed and drift indicator, which formed the basis of the automatic pilot.  During World War II, he served on General Douglas MacArthur's staff as Director of Air Transport and wrote the Raft Book, a survival manual for downed Allied air crews.  He founded Fiji Airways, now Air Pacific, Fiji's international airline, in 1951.

Post died at age 36 in a plane crash near Point Barrow, Alaska, that also killed renowned cowboy humorist Will Rogers, who was traveling with him.  He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1969.  Post's life is chronicled in an excellent book by Bob Burke, Wiley Post: From Oklahoma to Eternity (2006). 

Signed photographs of Post and Gatty together are very difficult to find.  The last one that we have found signed by both in auction records was in 1996.  Interestingly, this one shows Post without his trademark eye patch.

Aside from the slight trimming mentioned above, this photo is in very fine condition.  The signatures of both Post and Gatty are bold.  This would be a nice addition for any aviation collection.




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