A series of events celebrating Cal Rodgers’ flight from Sheespshead Bay, N.Y., to Long Beach, California, will takeoff Saturday, Sept. 17 – the same day Rodgers began his transcontinental quest 100 years ago.
Just eight years after the Wright brothers’ first flight, Rodgers proved that man could fly across the United States. This daredevil aviator, with only a few hours of training, got his pilot’s license and a Wright Brothers EX-1 airplane and set out on a flight from New York to California.
Rodgers wanted to get a $50,000 prize offered by William Randolph Hearst for covering the distance in 30 days. He missed the deadline, because of weather and mechanical delays and 16 crashes. Rodgers landed in Long Beach Dec. 10, 1911.
Author E.P. Stein will be at Long Beach’s Boeing Theater Sept. 17 from 4-6 p.m. with a discussion and book signing. Stein’s book, “Flight of the Vin Fiz,” chronicles Rodgers adventures during his cross-country flight, which lasted 84 days and covered 4,231 miles. Rodgers financed his flight by agreeing to make his Wright EX model plane a “flying billboard” for the Armour and Company’s grape juice drink “Vin Fiz.”
The “We Can Soar” events will run through December and include a Hangar Dance and Dinner; a showing – and appearance by the filmmaker – of “Breaking Through the Clouds,” a documentary by Heather Taylor about the 1929 Women’s Air Derby; and a dedication of the “Vin Fiz” replica and plaque honoring the transcontinental flight and the history of aviation in Long Beach.
“We Can Soar” raffle tickets will be sold for $10 each or 6 for $50 for your chance to win two free tickets from JetBlue. The money goes to the Long Beach Rosie the Riveter Foundation to pay for a 1/3 scale replica of the “Vin Fiz” to be placed at the entrance to the Long Beach Arena.
Stein has published numerous books and technical papers, and has written for films and television. Stein has worked extensively as an electronics engineer at Parsons Aerojet, Glenn L. Martin Co., Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Space Technology Laboratories, TRW, and Hughes Aircraft Co.
For more information: VinFizLongBeach.com