Notes from the Past

Notes on the Vin Fiz Flyer
Part IV
The Rest of the Story -- Part I

Calbreath Perry Rodgers remained in California after his 84 day-long cross-country odyssey.  During a flight along the coast on April 12, 1912, he encountered a flight of seagulls which caused him to lose control of the airplane.  The plane crashed into the shore very near where he had landed to complete his journey four months earlier.  Nearby swimmers rushed to rescue him but he had broken his neck and died almost immediately.

The philatelic interest in the story was that, during the trip, an adhesive label was prepared to be used for mail carried on-board the Vin Fiz Flyer.  Scott's Specialized illustrates this label as a 'semi-official' airmail.  Rodgers wife, Mabel, is believed to have been responsible for organizing this fund raising effort.  The unofficial mail appears to have been started in time to catch flights in Texas.  Mrs. Rodgers requested an addressed and stamped card along with 25¢ for the service of adding the Vin Fiz Flyer label, carrying it on the aeroplane between two cities along the route, and posting it at an intermediate destination.

Vin Fiz covers are rare and highly prized.  Postmarks are known from Waco, Dallas, San Antonio, Imperial Junction, and Pasadena.  There is also a crash cover rubber stamped Machine wrecked | at Compton | Aviator injured.

In addition to dropping Vin Fiz leaflets and selling the labels, Rodgers also sold picture postcards of himself and his plane to raise funds.

(to be continued)

-Excerpted from
AIR MAIL an illustrated history 1793 - 1981
Donald B. Holmes; edited and designed by Ladislav Svatos
Published 1981

Posted February 6, 2000

Index of 508 Notes from the Past

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