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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Rodgers, Calbraith Perry



  • Existence: 1879 January 12 - 1912 April 3

Biographical Note: Calbraith Perry Rodgers

Calbraith P. Rodgers was an American aviation pioneer, who made the first transcontinental airplane flight across the United States in 1911.

Calbraith Perry Rodgers was born on January 12, 1879, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Calbraith Perry Rodgers Sr. and Maria Chambers Rodgers. His father was a Captain in the United States Calvary and passed away while on duty in 1878, prior to Rodgers’ birth. Rodgers came from a family of naval commanders and had hoped to follow their path but was unable to due to an illness that made him deaf in one ear and caused hearing loss in the other. He attended Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania and then in 1902 moved to New York, New York to join family. In 1906 Rodgers married Mabel Avis Graves and they lived together in Havre de Grace, Maryland. They shared no children.

In 1911, Rodgers received 90 minutes of flying lessons from Orville Wright. He had been introduced to Wright by his cousin, John Rodgers, who was also taking lessons from Wright in Dayton, Ohio at the Wright Company. Following his brief instruction, Rodgers passed his flying test on August 7, 1911 at Huffman Prairie, earning the 49th aviator license. In the same year Rodgers purchased a Wright Flyer, the first Wright airplane to be sold to a private buyer. On his way home with his new Wright Flyer he participated in the 1911 Chicago International Aviation Meet, setting several records and earning prize money.

Just a month after receiving his aviator license, Rodgers entered the William Randolph Hearst transcontinental flight competition which had been announced in 1910. He took off from Sheepshead Bay, New York on September 17, 1911. His airplane was a Wright Model EX and was named the Vin Fiz after a new soda on the market from his sponsor, Armour and Company. Then on December 10, 1911, Rodgers landed the Vin Fiz in Long Beach, California, successfully completing the first North American transcontinental flight. Though Rodgers had succesfully flown from coast to coast he did not win the Hearst prize as he did not meet the 30-day requiremnet. While flying the Vin Fiz in an exhibition in California, Rodgers crashed off the coast of Long Beach when his plane collided with seagulls. He passed away moments after the accident on April 3, 1912.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Biographical Information Files - R

Scope and Contents Individuals whose names begin with R: Rae, William, Jr. [Wind tunnel engineer] "William Rae Jr., Who Turned His Love for Planes into Long Career," Seattle Times, May 29, 1993 Rahder, Karl F. [Analyst and journalist] "The RAF Bombing Campaign in Germany: Ethical and Strategic Dimensions," by Karl F. Rahder. Paper presented to the University of Chicago's Workshop on Military Affairs,...

Cynthia P. Bayne Calbraith Perry Rodgers Vin Fiz Collection

Identifier: 2023-08-14
Overview The Cynthia P. Bayne Calbraith Perry Rodgers Vin Fiz Collection is a small collection of visual and textual materials related to the first North American transcontinental flight in 1911 successfully completed by Calbraith Perry Rodgers in his Vin Fiz Flyer.

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