The Last Farewell of Will Rogers and Wiley Post
Will Rogers and Wiley Post bid farewell to a small crowd gathered at Fairbanks, Alaska, on August 15, 1935. They would perish in an airplane crash later that day.
Post modified a hybrid Lockheed Orion/Explorer specifically for the trip to Russia by adding pontoons for water landings. The pair departed Seattle for Juneau on August 7, 1935, two days after the test flight of the modified airplane. On August 9, they left for Aklavik, where sightseeing and weather kept them until August 12. They then journeyed on to Fairbanks.On August 15, Post and Rogers departed Fairbanks for Point Barrow. Eskimo seal hunters saw the red Lockheed fly low over their village and land in a nearby lagoon. Once on the ground, Post asked the direction to Point Barrow and one of the hunters pointed north across the featureless tundra. Post tinkered with the engine for a few minutes and Rogers chatted with the Eskimos. Then they started the engine, taxied across the river and took off in a steep, climbing turn. About fifty feet up, the engine seemed to stop cold, the plane faltered, dragged a wing in the water and crashed on its back.
Two of Oklahoma’s favorite sons lost their lives in the shallow water beside the Arctic Ocean.
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