In 1921, the famous flier did a stint in the Oklahoma state penitentiary.
Informal portrait of Wiley Post, circa early 1930s. Image courtesy NASM.
Eighty years ago this month, on July 22, 1933, Wiley Post completed the first solo flight around the world. He made the circuit in seven days, 18 hours, and 49 1/2 minutes, taking off and returning to Floyd Bennett Field on Long Island, New York.
It wasn’t Post’s first around-the-world trip. In 1931, accompanied by navigator Harold Gatty, Post circumnavigated the world in a little over eight days. The attempt was so popular with the public that the duo wrote a book, appropriately titled Around the World in Eight Days.
What Post didn’t reveal in that 1931 memoir, was that he was an ex-con, convicted of highway robbery. As Bryan Sterling and Frances Sterling note in their 2001 book Forgotten Eagle, in April 1921, Post pleaded guilty to highway robbery, and was sentenced to ten years at the Oklahoma state penitentiary.
The Sterlings write:
The robber’s strategem that Wiley employed was basic…. A robber would simply place some lure—be it a small suitcase, a bag of sugar, or a new-looking tire—into the center of a quiet ...