The Wiley Post Spirit Award was conceived in 2004 to commemorate its namesake’s contribution to aviation. Wiley Post (1898 – 1935) can be credited with a wide variety of aviation accomplishments such as the first aviator to fly solo around the world, developer of the first pressure suit and pioneer of sub-stratospheric flight.
During his life, Post was much celebrated not only for his record-setting feats, but for his personal triumph over adversity. Having been born into a farming family, he dropped out of school in the eighth grade, self-teaching himself about mechanical devices. His determination to become an aviator is credited to his first seeing an airplane at a county fair in 1913. Dedicated to this dream, he even volunteered to be a skydiver with a barnstorming troop for two years. In 1926, a freak accident caused him to lose an eye. With the worker’s compensation from this accident, he bought his first plane (a Curtiss Canuck). In the years to follow Post made his living as a pilot, instructor and record setter.
His spirit of adventure and determination caught the imagination of the public during the trying times of the Great Depression making him one of the most celebrated pilots of the day. Sadly, Post, along with his good friend Will Rogers, were killed in a crash after takeoff in 1935.
Today, the Wiley Post Spirit Award is an honor to those “who have distinguished themselves by landmark meritorious contributions in or to Aviation, while best exemplifying the inspiration, courage, dedication and pioneering spirit of Wiley Post.”
Cirrus is honored that co-founder Dale Klapmeier is the 2011 recipient of this award. Congratulations Dale!