Cal Rogers had talked Orville Wright into giving him 90 minutes of flying lessons in 1911 . At age 32 , Rogers had become interested in flying . William Randolph Hearst was offering a $50,000 prize to the first aviator who could fly across the country in less than thirty days .
Rogers got Armour , of Armour Meats , to sponsor him . Armour produced a soft drink called VinFiz . Rogers named his plane Vin Fiz . He took off from Sheepshead Bay , New York , on September 17 , 1911 , headed toward Chicago . From Chicago he flew south toward Texas in order to avoid the Rockies . From San Antonio he headed west and landed at Tournament Park in Pasadena on November 5, 1911 . He had made the first ever transcontinental flight . But do the math on the 30 days . No , he didn’t get the prize , but 20,000 people were there in Pasadena to watch him land .
The next year Cal Rogers was making an exhibition flight over Long Beach . The watching crowds saw him fly into a flock of birds and , suddenly , crash into the sea . Cal Rogers was dead . That was April 3, 1912 .