Cal Rodgers Vin Fiz Flight Wiggins Collection

The first crossing of the United States by airplane was achieved by Calbraith "Cal" Perry Rodgers (1879-1912) in 1911 in his Wright EX biplane, named the Vin Fiz. Rodgers decided to attempt the coast-to-coast flight in response to publisher William Randolph Hearst's New York American challenge which offered a prize of $50,000 for the first transcontinental flight to be competed in 30 days. Rodgers began his journey from Sheepshead Bay, New York, on September 17, 1911, and as the flight was punctuated by numerous stops, delays, and accidents, the 30-day time limit Hearst imposed for the prize had expired before Rodgers reached California on November 5, 1911. To finance the trip, Rodgers had secured backing from the Armour Company, a Chicago firm which was then introducing a new grape-flavored soft drink called Vin Fiz.