Original U.S. Framed Fabric Piece from the Vin Fiz Flyer - First Airplane to Fly Coast to Coast in 1911

Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This is a great piece of Early U.S. Aviation history! The Vin Fiz Flyer was an early Wright Brothers Model EX pusher biplane that in 1911 became the first aircraft to fly coast-to-coast across the U.S., a journey that took almost three months. The publisher William Randolph Hearst had offered a US$50,000 prize to the first aviator to fly coast to coast, in either direction, in less than 30 days from start to finish.

Calbraith Perry Rodgers, grandnephew of naval hero Oliver Hazard Perry, and an avid yachtsman and motorcycle racer, had taken about 90 minutes of instruction from Orville Wright in June 1911 before soloing, and had won an $11,000 air endurance prize in a contest in August. Rodgers became the first private citizen to buy a Wright airplane, a Wright Model B modified and called the Model EX. The plane's 35 horsepower (26 kilowatt) engine allowed a speed of 50 miles per hour (80 km/hr) at 1000 feet (305 meters). He decided to tackle Hearst's challenge.

Rodgers worked with sponsors and friends to finance and plan the trip. The flight began at 4:30 pm, September 17, 1911, when Rodgers took off from the Sheepshead Bay Race Track in Brooklyn, New York. Although the plan called for a large number of stops along the way, in the end there were 75, including 16 crashes, and Rodgers was injured several times. Taylor and the team of mechanics rebuilt the Vin Fiz Flyer when necessary, and only a few pieces of the original plane actually made the entire trip.

With all the mishaps, Rodgers sadly missed the deadline, landing in Pasadena, Ca. on November 5th, 1911, 19 days over schedule. He then attempted to fly to the shore, but crashed, and was hospitalized for weeks.

Finally, on December 10 he landed on the beach, and taxied the Flyer into the Pacific Ocean, completing the unprecedented journey of over 4,000 statute miles (6,400 km). Actual flying time totaled under 84 hours.  Sadly, Rodgers was killed in an air crash on the Pacific shore of the US shortly after the flight across the US, ending his further aspirations.

The aircraft was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1934, and eventually joined the collection of the National Air and Space Museum, after being fully restored for display by the Smithsonian in 1960. As of August 2009, the plane was still on display at the NASM but was undergoing further conservation.

What we have here is a 2" x 2" piece of original fabric from the Vin Fiz Flyer. These were apparently being sold to help further the restoration efforts on the historic plane, as the fabric will only last so long, and eventually needs replacement. It is mounted inside a frame, under a picture of the aircraft, and is captioned as follows:

Pilot: Calbraith Perry Rodgers

The "Vin Fiz" made the first U.S. transcontinental flight in 1911 taking off from Sheepshead Bay, Long Island, New York on September 17 and landing in Pasadena, California on November 5. Calbraith Perry Rodgers covered the 6953 kilometers (4321 miles) in 82 hours and 2 minutes flying time at an average speed of 84 kilometers per hour (52 miles per hour) with seventy landings en route. The "Vin Fiz" is part of the Collection of the National Air and Space Museum. 

All of this is very nicely mounted and glazed in a wooden frame.. It measures about 21 1/2" x 17 1/2" x 3/4", and is in wonderful display condition. A great piece of early aviation history memorabilia!

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