Cal Rodgers and the Vin Fiz: The First Transcontinental Flight

Eileen F. LeBow, Author Smithsonian Books $32 (275p) ISBN 978-0-87474-704-1
In quest of a $50,000 prize offered by William Randolph Hearst for a successful flight across the U.S., Cal Rodgers left New York on Sept. 17, 1911. Flying a plane built by the Wright brothers, and sponsored in his voyage by the Armour Company of Chicago (then introducing a new soft drink, ``vin fiz''), he arrived in California on Nov. 5, missing out on the prize because he exceeded Hearst's time limit. But Rodgers's was the first successful transcontinental flight, traveled at about 60 miles an hour. This lively, informative look at flying just eight years after Kitty Hawk recreates both the fragility of the machine and the courage of its pilot. Since no reliable maps existed for aviators, Rodgers relied on railroad lines to guide him, and experienced two dozen breakdowns along the way. He was killed in a plane crash less than six months after his historic flight. Illustrated. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
Genre: Nonfiction
Discover what to read next