Thursday, July 22, 2010

Around the World, Solo - 77 Years Ago Today

"July 22, 1933: Wiley Post Flies Around the World Alone"
This Day in Tech, Wired (July 21, 2010)

"1933: Pilot Wiley Post returns to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, 7 days, 18 hours, 49 minutes after leaving. Aided by new technology, his flight is the first solo circumnavigation by air, and it's also the fastest-ever around-the-world-trip.

"Born in Texas, Post wanted to be a pilot after seeing his first airplane at a county fair at the age of 15. He got his break at age 24, when a barnstormer let him fill in for his injured skydiver. Post performed several jumps, but always wanted to be the pilot, not the skydiver.

"His dream was almost ruined while working in the oil fields to earn money for an airplane: He lost his left eye in an accident. Despite the lack of depth perception, Post was able to earn his pilot's license and, with his workers' compensation checks, bought his first airplane...."

Some of the new technology was 'high tech,' like his autopilot and radio direction finder.

Then there was the sleep-prevention technology that Post invented while on this around-the-world flight. He tied a wrench to one finger with a piece of string, and then held on to the wrench. If he started falling asleep, his hand relaxed - releasing the wrench, which tugged at his finger, waking him up.

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