Grape Soda and Glory in the Air

March 16, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Orville and Wilbur Wright were dubious when Cal Rogers decided to fly from one end of the continent to the other. In 1911, they knew their machines were fragile and not fast. Top speed was 55 miles an hour. But "somebody's got to be first," Rogers said, and anyway there was the $50,000 William Randolph Hearst was offering. Rogers got a sponsor for the $18,000 worth of manpower and spare parts he needed. An ad for new sparkling grape drink, Vin Fiz, would be painted under the wings. During the 49-day trip, he crashed-landed 15 of the 70 times he touched down. Cal Rogers missed Hearst's 30-day deadline, but got the first.

Another pioneering aviator, Harriet Quimby, appeared in ads for the grape soda. Both flyers might be better known but for the fact that they each died in 1912.

 


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