Fly-In, wreath-laying honor Will Rogers and Wiley Post
A flurry of activities is packed into the hours from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 12, at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch. The annual Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In pays tribute to the two who spent their lifetime promoting aviation.
In addition, a brief wreath-laying ceremony will be 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15, the 77th anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of Will and Wiley. They died in 1935, when their plane went down in the icy waters outside Barrow, Alaska.
Claremore Mayor Mickey Perry and Doris “Coke” Meyer, Will Rogers’ great-niece, will place a wreath at the family tomb. Mary West of Oologah will sing. The ceremony will follow a fly-over by Claremore pilots Tom Egbert and Ron Lessley, who have been at every Fly-In since the event started.
Highlighting the Aug. 12 Fly-In, Wiley, with Will as his passenger, will land on the 2,000-foot grass strip adjacent to the house where Will was born. For the second year, Joe Bacon, Pryor pilot and Will Rogers Memorial Museum docent, will be in the role of Wiley. Lester Lurk, from Ste. Genevieve, Mo., who bears a resemblance to Will, comes as Will Rogers.
Presenting sponsors for the Fly-In are Will Rogers Memorial Museums, Will Rogers Memorial Foundation, Cherokee Nation Businesses and Cherokee Nation Will Rogers Downs. Admission is free.
Events dot the hillside overlooking Oologah Lake. and longhorn cattle roaming in the pasture. Visitors will have access to a close-up of planes and pilots. C.L. Strance, who flies from Sandridge airstrip between Claremore and Collinsville, and whose plane was “People’s Choice” last year, will be available for photo opportunities with visitors, a fund-raising project of the docents.
Tim Jarrett, Fly-In chairman, said last year more than 90 planes were on the airstrip including vintage and war planes, experimental aircraft, helicopters and ultralights. An Air Evac helicopter and pilots who serve Rogers County and the surrounding area will be again be on the field.
Ross Adkins and Tony Isler will announce planes and introduce pilots as they taxi up to be parked by members of the Broken Arrow Civil Air Patrol.
Bring a lawn chair and sit in the shade to watch planes come and go or stop by the classic car show. Listen to Robert Lewis, Cherokee storyteller, or music by Julian Myrick on the porch of the ranch house. Or stop in the Amish-built barn to visit Coke Meyer, Will’s great-niece. She will be selling and autographing her new book I Called Him Uncle Will.
Inflatables are a favorite spot for children.
Food for sale will include breakfast and lunch items, funnel cakes, Indian tacos, hot dogs, popcorn and Italian ice and snow cones. Docents will sell water, chips and soda.
For more information, contact Pat Reeder with the Will Rogers Memorial Museums at 918-343-8129, by cell at 918-906-7258 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Bacon from Pryor and Jean McCreery from Claremore, Will Rogers Memorial Museums Ropers (docents) and pilots, will be at the annual Will Rogers & Wiley Post Fly-In Sunday, Aug. 12 at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch. A former Womens Air Force Service Pilot (WASP), Mrs. McCreery learned of the docent program when she attended a Fly-In two years ago. (Photo provided)