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December in Aviation History



The Flight of the Vin Fiz

Of course every December aviation story is eclipsed by the historic Wright brothers flight in 1903. But a later December aviation milestone involved another Wright creation when Cal Rodgers landed in Long Beach, CA in the Wright EX Vin Fiz completing the first transcontinental flight on December 10 of 1911. The flight began in Long Island, NY in September, and the journey of over 4000 miles involved actual flying time of about 84 hours.

Rodgers was the grandnephew of naval hero Oliver Hazard Perry and 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.

Since the airplane needed a considerable support crew, Rodgers persuaded J. Ogden Armour, of meatpacking fame, to sponsor the attempt, and in return named the plane after Armour's new grape soft drink Vin Fiz. The support team included Charlie Taylor, the Wright brothers' bicycle shop and aircraft mechanic, who built their first and later engines and knew every detail of Wright airplane construction.

The plan had called for a large number of stops along the way, but 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. Rodgers was killed in an air crash on the Pacific shore of the US shortly after the flight across the US.


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COVID-19 Closure Updates

Status of Aviation Trail sites regarding visitors during the COVID-19 precautions: Updated September 21: This list was first compiled on March 16, 2020 and has been periodically updated through July 1

Location

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park 

16 S. Williams St., Dayton, OH 45402

Visitor Center:

For details and seasonal date schedules see https://www.nps.gov/daav/planyourvisit/hours.htm

or please call (937) 225-7705 for the current park schedule.

Parking:

From W. Third St., turn south on Williams St and then turn left on Fourth St. Go 1/2 block and turn left into the Visitor Center parking area.

CLICK HERE for a parking map.

See the Visitor Center page for details on hours.

Travel Note - Third St. Bridge closure:

The Third Street Bridge will be CLOSED beginning Jan. 1, 2020 until approximately Oct. 2021. Visitors can use the Fifth St. Bridge or the Salem Ave. Bridge as detours from downtown Dayton. A file with more detailed instructions for visitors traveling from the north or south via I-75, or from the east and west via US35 can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE.

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