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SW Aviator Feb/Mar 2001
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The Curtiss Wright Wiley Post Hangar Project
T-33 in Flight

In April 1927, the world was stunned by the news that the “Lone Eagle”, Charles Lindberg, had been able to accomplish a solo flight crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to Paris, in a single engine monoplane, without mishap or misfortune. Suddenly, the American public became “airminded" – the future was here and it was now. Nationwide, municipalities began a rush to build airports, hoping that transient flyers would use their new facilities to confirm that their city was part of the future. Aviation was on the brink of becoming a new religion – one that would bring people closer together in awe of the majesty of flight.

The Curtiss-Wright Corporation, who at that time was the largest manufacturer of airplanes and aircraft engines in the world, began a search for cities who in their judgment were “airminded”, progressive, and who understood the practical impact that a well developed aviation industry could have on a community. In 1928, Curtiss-Wright Corporation invested $115,000 for an airport on the north side of Oklahoma City. The 160 acre airport was heralded as “Oklahoma City’s model airport” complete with a beautiful art-deco hangar and a fleet of Curtiss-Wright airplanes. The purpose of the new facility was to promote and support the development of general aviation in Oklahoma, and to provide an outlet for the sale and maintenance of Curtiss-Wright products.

Oklahoma’s world famous aviator, Wiley Post, used the hangar extensively from 1929 to 1934 to design and modify airplanes he used on several intercontinental and two round-the-world flights. As one of the most distinguished pioneers in aviation history, his achievements comprised some of the greatest accomplishments in aviation at the time. In 1931, Post flew around the world in a record time of 8 days, 15 hours and 51 minutes. In 1933, he became the first person to make a solo around the world flight. It was on this flight that he used a new automatic pilot system, which steered the airplane while he rested. Development and testing of the autopilot took place at the Curtiss-Wright hangar. Post discovered the jet stream while setting a new altitude records of 50,000 feet in his Lockheed Vega. Post is considered the first “astronaut” because the high altitude pressurized flight suit he developed is a forerunner of the equipment worn by present-day astronauts. Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Will Rogers and other notables of the day, were regular visitors at the hangar to visit with their mentor, Wiley Post.

Upon completion of Wiley’s solo around the world flight, he received the largest ticker tape parade ever in New York City. The “Winnie-Mae," Post’s famous Lockheed Vega, was based at the Curtiss- Wright Hangar until his untimely death in 1935. The “Winnie-Mae” was then taken to the Smithsonian, where it resides today.

From 1932 to 1937 hangar was home to Braniff Airlines. The origins of Braniff Airlines, all flights and all maintenance of the airplanes were conducted at the Curtiss-Wright hangar. The Wiley Post Biplane was produced in the same hangar during the early ‘30s. The hangar was sold to John Burke in 1940 and was used to train Army and Navy pilots until the end of WWII. Burke closed the airport in 1955 and developed the area into a residential addition. In 1960 the hangar was surrounded with an exterior structure, creating first a shopping center, and later a church.

Auto dealer Jackie Cooper purchased the land and the hangar for his adjacent dealership. Fearing that the hangar had become a fire hazard, Cooper planned to demolish the building, when a group of Oklahoma City pilots prevailed on Mr. Cooper to have the building taken down and stored until a suitable organization could be found to reconstruct the hangar at an airport.

AeroSpace America International Airshows, Inc., a 501-c3 organization, is the recipient of the Curtiss-Wright/Wiley Post legacy. With the support of the aviation community, corporate interest, and local and state support, the hangar is to be reconstructed at the existing Wiley Post Airport. The current Wiley Post Airport is one of the nation’s premier general aviation airports.

The reconstructed hangar is not to be a relic of the past, but a pro-active facility for public education and promotion and support of general aviation, providing a link to the past and a bridge to the future. Aero Space America will have its permanent offices in the hangar. The Curtiss-Wright hangar will be a convenient facility for “type” organizations to hold their conventions – staging for the Civil Air Patrol operations, aviation field trips for schools, EAA and AAA projects. The hangar, to be located on the southwest area of Wiley Post Airport will be an anchor for other organizations to build related facilities. The hangar is to be constructed in a manner that is historically correct, but at the same time, compliant with modern building codes.

No aviation structure in Oklahoma is more historically significant than the Curtiss Wright/Wiley Post hangar. Dreams of worldwide air travel were born under the steel trusses of that hangar – dreams that came from the minds of Wiley Post and Tom Braniff. Unlike the railroads, or the old cattle trails that crisscross Oklahoma, the passage of an airplanes leave no mark on the earth. Any tribute to Oklahoma’s aerial pioneers must be made through the preservation and continuance of their dreams and those facilities which supported them.

Estimated Usage
In keeping with Oklahoma City’s goal of increasing tourism, the reconstructed hangar will become an Aviation Convention Center. “Type” organizations, such as the Short-Wing Piper Club, and the Cessna 190- 195 Club have expressed interest in holding their annual conventions at the new facility. Over 50 such organizations have been identified. The adjacency of the grass runway, the central location of Oklahoma City, and the use of an historic hangar are strong factors in favor of clubs holding their conventions at Wiley Post Airport. The hangar will be available to other organizations such as the EAA, AAA (Antique Airplane Association), the OX-5 Club, Oklahoma City Balloon Festival, Civil Air Patrol, Aero Space America, AOPA regional meetings, American Bonanza Society clinics, and area schools for field trips.

A nationally known “pilot shop” has made inquiry as to locating a new outlet in Oklahoma City at the Curtiss-Wright/Wiley Post hangar. Youth and adult aviation education courses will be offered, as well as flight training. Aircraft building, restoration, and maintenance seminars are to be offered to aircraft owners, and those wanting to either build or restore an aircraft.

A sandwich shop/short-order grill will be open to the public and convention attendees. Arrangements shall be made to offer fuel for the aircraft. Short-term hangar rental space will be available until such a time that an open aircraft shelter, or period style storage hangars can be built. Space shall be rented to A&P mechanics to conduct annual inspections on an as needed basis.

For more information about the Wiley Post Hangar Project please contact Mr. Bob Kemper via email at, or phone 405-943-9732.
The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publications and the staff neither assume any responsibility for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising fom it