MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Wiley Post successfully completed the first solo flight around the world in 1933 on a Lockheed Vega aircraft.
The American pilot gained fame two years earlier when he flew around the northern part of the globe alongside aviator Harold Gatty, also on a Lockheed Vega aircraft.
A New Record Around the World for an Airplane
Hugo Eckener piloted the airship LZ 127, Graf Zeppelin, to set the record for the first flight around the world in 1930, taking him 21 days.
With various stop-overs, Post and Gatty completed the flight in just eight days, 15 hours, and 51 minutes on July 1. The single-engined monoplane traveled 15,474 miles.
First Solo Flight around the World
In 1933, Wiley Post took things to the next level, setting a milestone with his solo flight using the autopilot and compass. On July 15, the Post departed on a Lockheed Vega aircraft from Floyd Bennett Field in New York. The first stop was Berlin as Post needed to repair his autopilot.
After the German stop and due to technical reasons, the Kaliningrad and Russian territories followed in Post’s global route. Finally, after seven days, 18 h and 49 min, Post completed his second flight around the world.
The Vega 5C ultimately broke another record by flying 15,596 miles in what was to become the first solo flight around the world. This global voyage not only marked a new time record but was also the first time that an aviator had accomplished such a feat.
Lockheed Vega Airplane, a Record Breaker
The Lockheed Vega first flew in 1927, but it became famous thanks to the milestones that it achieved throughout its record-setting flights.
The aircraft is known as ‘Winnie Mae’. The name corresponds to the daughter of F. C. Hall, who is the original owner of the Vega and a friend of Post.
Apart from Post’s solo flight, the Vega 5B also helped set a record when Amelia Earhart became the first woman aviator to make a nonstop solo transatlantic flight on the type.
Lockheed Vega: A Milestone for Women in Aviation
In 1932, Amelia Earhart piloted a variant of the Vega, Lockheed Vega 5B, for 14 h and 56 min. In 29,000 miles, she had accomplished a new feat in aviation.
Today, Post’s Vega 5C is on a static display at the National Air and Space Museum in Virginia. On its part, Earhart’s Vega 5B sits on static display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Featured image: Wiley Post and Lockheed 5C Vega Winnie Mae. Photo: The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History files.