On this day in history

Roamy here. A commercial flight from NYC to LA is what, six hours or so? The SR-71 flew it in just under an hour and eight minutes. 100 years ago today, Calbraith Perry Rodgers piloted the Vin Fiz to Pasadena, CA, completing the first transcontinental flight. He had left Sheepshead Bay, NY on September 17.

Vin Fiz on display at the Smithsonian

The Vin Fiz plane was a modified Wright Flyer Model B or Wright EX. Vin Fiz was a grape soda produced by the company owned by J. Ogden Armour, the meatpacking magnate who was part of the inspiration for Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Yes, that Armour, as in Armour hot dogs and Vienna sausages. Armour paid for his support team, which included Charlie Taylor, engine mechanic for the Wright Brothers.

50 days, actual flying time 84 hours, average speed about 50 mph, 75 landings, at least 16 of them crashes.

Just think – open cockpit, no airfields, no maps, only following railroad tracks across the country. Calbraith Rodgers was competing for a $50,000 prize offered by William Randolph Hearst for the first transcontinental flight in under 30 days. He missed the deadline but still made history. Unfortunately, Rodgers died in an airplane crash in April 1912, not long after completing this flight.

3 thoughts on “On this day in history”

  1. The source I linked above mentioned as many as 39, but that folklore probably inflated the number. He crashed on the second day into a chicken coop. He crashed in Arizona hard enough to get a cast on his leg. At one point, the motor blew a cylinder and peppered him with shrapnel. Not much of the plane that took off from NY made it to CA.

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