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WNYC Covers the Celebration of Wiley Post's Record Breaking Flight Around the World in 1933

History Notes: Volume 2, Issue 2

Friday, January 07, 2011 - 12:06 PM

New York Mayor John P. O'Brien* pinned a gold medal on Wiley Post, 'round-the-world flier' on the steps of City Hall, July 26, 1933. Post's wife Edna Mae is on the right behind the WNYC microphone.

This was Wiley Post's second flight around the world. Two years earlier, he and navigator Harold Gatty circumnavigated the globe in just under nine days. This time, however, he was alone, aided only by the plane's radio compass and auto-pilot supplied by the Sperry Gyroscope Company. The York Times to wrote: "He will ride around the world on radio waves while the robot flies the plane."

Post took off from Brooklyn's Floyd Bennet Field on July 15th, bound for Berlin. Twenty-six hours later, a new world record was made. The aviator made 10 more stops between Berlin and Brooklyn for repairs and various mishaps. Fifty thousand people greeted him when he landed at Floyd Bennett Field at 11:50 PM, July 22, 1933. He had knocked 21 hours off his previous record, completing the solo flight in seven days, nineteen hours.

Post told those gathered and WNYC listeners, "I would like to express my appreciation of your enthusiasm. Thank you very much." The Mayor compared Post's flight with the voyages of Ferdinand Magellan and Sir Francis Drake. "How fast the world moves," O'Brien said, "and how fast you move around the world." Following the City Hall ceremony, WNYC coverage of Post continued at the Advertising Club of New York, where he was lauded by aviatrix Amelia Earhart and called "an iron man with a stout heart" by Thomas Morgan, President of the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce. The modest aviator told the assembled and those listening on the radio, "When I look back on the cooperation I had before, during and after the flight, it makes me realize that my part, after all, was not very much." Post thanked the equipment manufacturers, his friends, the oil companies and the landing fields for making his journey possible. This flight won Post the coveted Harmon International Trophy, a feat shared with Lindbergh, Igor Sikorsky and James Doolittle.

*Note: Shortly after the resignation of Mayor Jimmy Walker in 1932, Tammany Hall nominated John P. O'Brien for Mayor in a special election. O'Brien prevailed over write-in candidate (and Acting Mayor) Joseph V. McKee by more than 500,000 votes.

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Broadcast on WNYC today in:

1925: Social worker and attorney Clarice M. Baright describes the city subways as overcrowded, unsanitary, offensive and intolerable. Speaking as the legal adviser to the Metropolitan Housewives League and 35 other civic groups fighting for improvements in the privately owned transit system, Baright tells WNYC listeners:

"The New York public is noted for being patient and long-suffering, and standing for almost anything. But the present conditions of the subways and elevated roads have become so bad that even this patient public is beginning to rebel.  It has been twenty-four years since the first subway was opened in New York, and we all know that ever since there has been a continuous succession of conferences, commissions, boards, committees and investigating commissions for the purpose of trying to regulate and improve a service that has been continually growing worse. The transit commission has the authority to force the management to operate the subways with a full regard to public health, decency and safety and it should do so...There is another thing. With municipal ownership, the women of the city would have some voice and you can bet they would insist first, last and all the time on good housekeeping, which is the subject of this message."

1938: 'The Russian Information Bureau' presents a travelogue on Soviet Russia, Moscow's Park of Culture and Rest, and Moscow's Volga Canal.

Note: This broadcast leads to charges of communist influence over WNYC's programming and a City Council investigation of the station and its new Director, Morris S. Novik. The ensuing brouhaha drags on for months and eventually fades away after it is finally determined there was no Bolshevik-inspired propaganda effort underwritten with taxpayer dollars. To the contrary, it is revealed that the program was produced by the National Travel Council which has close ties to the American Express Company's Russian Travel Division seeking to promote tourism in the Soviet Union.

1945: BBC Radio Newsreel presents a report on: The Russian offensive in Poland; winter on the Western Front (Ardennes forest); a broadcast from a freight train loaded with ammunition heading for the front line; and an interview with Flight Lieutenant Dick Adet of the Grizzly Bear squadron, one of eleven Royal Canadian Air Force fighter squadrons fighting in Western Europe and in the Mediterranean during World War II.

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