Wiley Post seemed destined for back-breaking work in the cotton farms and oilfields of southern Oklahoma, but after a visit to a county fair at the age of 15 he set his sights on the sky. There he got his first glimpse of an airplane and was inspired to become a pilot. Based in Oklahoma City, Wiley became one of the most innovative pilots in early aviation history and held several records for speed, altitude, and endurance. In 1933 he became the first pilot to fly around the world solo and set a speed record doing it.
The original plan of this park was built in the 1930s after a flood control project straightened out some bends in the river which left a wooded stretch along the riverside. Working in partnership with federal relief programs, the city transformed the area into a regional park for the Capitol Hill area. Because thousands of children on the southside did not have access to the Lincoln Park Zoo, community leaders pressed the city to create a branch of the zoo at Wiley Post Park. In addition to shuffleboard, playground equipment and croquet courts, bears Maggie and Imp, two pumas, and a monkey colony entertained park visitors.
The park you see today is much different than the original park. In the early 1950s a second flood control project destroyed the park. When it was restored in 1960, it was smaller and the zoo was replaced with lighted baseball and softball fields, but today it’s part of a string of parks and trails lining the Oklahoma River.
This park was originally referred to as Binkley Park for J. G. Binkley, the city councilman who advocated for its creation in the 1930s. Instead this park was officially named by popular vote of Oklahoma City school children a few months after Wiley’s record-breaking round-the-world flight.