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.
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.