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Early Wright Pilot and Famed Cross Country Flyer
First to Fly Across the U.S.


"Cal" Rodgers was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania February 12, 1879 of well-to-do parents, and a great grandson of Commodore Oliver H. Perry, hero of the Battle of Lake Erie. He was a large, tall man, college football star, auto racer and yachtsman.

He became interested in aviation when visiting his cousin, Lt. John Rodgers, U.S.N. at Dayton, Ohio while Lt. Rodgers was taking flight instruction at the Wright School in April, 1911. The "flying bug" bit him and he signed up for a course himself, entering the school in June to take up flying purely for the fun of it.

Rodgers was trained by Al Welch and passed his tests for Pilot License No. 49 on August 7, 1911 at Simms Station on a Wright. During training he became interested in a young lad, Charles Wiggin, who was always hanging around the field. Wiggin was mechanically inclined, always trying to help in any way possible, and very eager to get into aviation. When Rodgers finished his course he bought a Model B Wright plane and prepared to start out entirely on his own, not with the Wright Exhibition team. At this time he invited young Wiggin to join him as helper and mechanic and he jumped at the chance.

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