The Crash Heard Around the World: Will Rogers and Wiley Post Die in Point Barrow

Over the past six weeks the Pioneer Air Museum hosted intern Ashley Nicole (Nikki) Lorenzen. She dove into our archives, and has been cataloging the entire paper and photograph collections. In her time here, she took note of Will Rogers and Wiley Post’s crash, that took their lives 79 years ago today, and wrote this blog article as a response.


With the unfortunate passing of Robin Williams, one of comedy’s greats, only days ago the Pioneer Air Museum is reminded of the deaths of another comedy legend and his aviator companion: Will Rogers and Wiley Post.

Born in 1879 in Oologah, OK, Will Rogers was one of the most famous persons of the 1920s and 1930s. Rogers began his career as a trick rope performer in the circus before moving to Vaudeville. He appeared in 21 films, wrote a syndicated column for The New York Times, toured the lecture curcuit, had plenty of funny but astute social and political commentary, and even had a weekly radio program. His friendly demeanor and quick whit made him a favorite with everyone the world over and he famously said that he never met someone he did not like. Through his travels Rogers became interested in and advocated for the advancement of aviation. Doing so he became acquainted with fellow Oklahoman and famous aviator of the time, Wiley Post.


Wiley Post was born in 1898 in Texas and his family moved to Oklahoma when he was five. Post joined the US Army Air Service during World War I. Like Rogers, Post spent time working for a circus as a parachutist. It was also around this time that Post met Rogers for the first time. Post is best known as being the first pilot to fly around the world solo. Post also worked in high-altitude flying and helped develop the first pressure suits. An oil field accident in 1926 cost him his left eye but the settlement from the incident allowed him to purchase his first aircraft. 

In 1935 Post became interested in surveying a mail and passenger air route from the West Coast of the US to Russia. Post built a hybrid plane using parts from the Lockheed Orion and Lockheed Explorer aircraft and included floats for landing on Alaska’s lakes. During the aircraft’s modifications Rogers often visited Post and asked if he could accompany Post on his trip so that he might find new material for his column. Post agreed and the two set off in early August. While Post flew Rogers wrote his columns on a typewritter. On August 15, 1935 the pair flew from Fairbanks, AK headed to Point Barrow. Due to bad weather Post and Rogers became unsure of their position and landed in a lagoon to ask for directions. When their engine failed at take-off the nose-heavy plane crashed into the lagoon shearing off the right wing before landing inverted in the lagoon and killing both Will Rogers and Wiley Post instantly. 

For more information about Will Rogers and Wiley Post visit our memorial at the Pioneer Air Museum in Pioneer Park, Fairbanks, AK

3 responses to “The Crash Heard Around the World: Will Rogers and Wiley Post Die in Point Barrow”

  1. Steven Osborn Avatar
    Steven Osborn

    I noticed that Joe Crosson, my 3rd cousin, was admitted to the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame in 2002. I know Joe had children and I wonder if any are still living? I would like to get in touch with any of his children.

    Steven Osborn
    1105 Laguna Lane
    Greenwood, IN 46143-2662

    1. Della Hall Avatar
      Della Hall

      Hi Steven. Sorry it has taken so long for us to get back to you. Please contact the museum at 907-451-0037 and ask for our Curator, Pete Haggland. You may also email him at

      Thank you,
      Della Hall
      Collections Manager

  2. Mary Anne Almquist Avatar
    Mary Anne Almquist

    I am interested in the aviation history of Carl Ben Eielson and wondered if information about him is included in your museum.
    We plan to visit Fairbanks this coming summer.

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