Lecture recalls Cal Rogers’ epic 1911 flight

On Nov. 5 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, aviation historian and author Mike Lavelle will present the sometimes-madcap story of the first flight across the United States, “Flying Cross Country with Your Wife, Mother and the Navy in 1911.”

In 1911 aviator Cal Rodgers tried to win the $50,000 prize offered by publisher William Randolph Hearst to the first pilot to fly across the U.S. within 30 days. Lavelle’s presentation is a fast-moving summary of the challenges, misfortunes and triumphs as Rodgers completed what was considered an impossible feat at the time. The 2 p.m. program is sponsored by Honeywell, and free with admission to the museum.

Rodgers failed to win the Hearst prize, but he completed an epic, 4000-mile journey crisscrossing the country in 49 days and 82 flying hours. Sitting bravely on the leading edge of his Wright EX Flyer named Vin Fiz, Rodgers was involved in 16 accidents resulting in broken legs, a concussion and a twisted spine. Yet with the 69 planned and unplanned landings en-route, Rodgers introduced the age of the flying machine to thousands of average Americans.

Lavelle is the Director of Public Programs at The Museum of Flight. His is also a CFI and aircraft mechanic, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society of Great Britain. Lavelle has made presentations to universities, museums and aviation groups on topics ranging from early aviation to the jet age.

For more information: MuseumOfFlight.org

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