By: Pat Reeder | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: August 2015
It’s been 80 years, but Will and Wiley (Lester Lurk and Joe Bacon) are expected to land at the Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In at about 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 15 on the grass strip at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch near Oologah.
Will Rogers and Wiley Post died in an Alaska plane crash on August 15, 1935. It is often called the “crash heard around the world.” This year the Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch will be Saturday, August 15, the 80th anniversary of the history-making event, when bold headlines in newspapers all over the world carried the story.
That day, and the lives of the two, undoubtedly the world’s strongest aviation boosters of their time, is remembered each year on the Oologah, Indian Territory ranch were Will Rogers was born. Usually a Sunday event, it was changed to Saturday to reflect the anniversary of the deaths, said Tad Jones, Will Rogers Memorial Museum executive director.
Airports across the country have been asked to join in a fly-over in the 10 a.m. hour at their respective airports to honor pilots who have died in air crashes in the past year. At that same time a short program at the airstrip will pay tribute to the lives of Will and Wiley. Mary West of Oologah will sing the “National Anthem.” The fly-over will honor pilots who have died in the past year. RSU Radio will live stream the tribute, available on other airwaves.
Ross Adkins, announcer for the past several years, will present the commemoration program and a moment of silence. The popular duo of Lester Lurk and Joe Bacon, aka Will and Wiley, will land about 9 a.m. “I should be done with my altitude record and round-the-world flight by 9,” Wiley (Bacon) said.
The Fly-In provides an opportunity for the public to get a close-up look at airplanes and meet the pilots. Pilots enjoy the fellowship with fellow aviators and people who just enjoy planes.
Cherokee storyteller Robert Lewis will be under a shade tree with his tales of animals, so much a part of early Cherokee tradition. There will be antique cars, inflatables and games for children, and food concessions. Ample parking is provided with rides to the viewing area. Roper Martin Howard and members of the Verdigris School football team have assisted with parking for several years. Members of Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton’s Mounted Troops will be on hand.
Air Evac Lifetime, an air medical service, will fly in and be on hand to show their plane and provide information about the access at the Claremore Regional Airport. Ambulances from Oologah-Talala EMS and Northwest First District will have units for the public to see as well as be on hand for emergencies.
Bring your own lawn chair or blanket and enjoy watching planes land and take off, walk among the aircraft, visit the house and see the room where Will was born, and remember the day 80 years ago when the world learned Will and Wiley had died in Alaska. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
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