Early Aviation in the San Simon Valley

Early aviation routes frequently followed the iron compass (railroads) insuring visible landmarks all along the route. The location of the Rodeo Intermediate field with it's big red directional arrow is a good example. The San Diego (and Los Angeles) to El Paso air route followed the old El Paso and Southwestern rail line from Douglas AZ through the San Simon Valley and on to El Paso and many other intermediate fields can be found associated with railroads. So while the San Simon Valley has an established history of aviation, this history can be traced back even further than the early commercial air routes and air fields. The first transcontinental flight in US history also passed across the San Simon Valley in it's journey from Lordsburg to Wilcox on the way to the west coast.

The aircraft was a Wright Brothers modified model B biplane (known as the EX model) named after the soda Vin Fiz, Armour's newest grape soda, and was piloted by C. P. Rodgers. After 90 minutes of flight training then solo Rodgers purchased a Wright Flyer, then persuaded the Armour company to provide sponsorship. The company provided a complete support crew and and a 3 car train for the trip which would accompany Rodgers along the iron compass across the US.

The trips route (see map below) started on September 17, 1911, in New York city, then to Chicago. The route turned southwest across the heartland of the US and into Texas. A westerly course was re-established after reaching San Antonio. The route went through El Paso and into New Mexico. At one point less than 20 miles into New Mexico Rodgers spent several days stuck in the sand at the El Paso and Southwestern siding town of Mastodon (1). He used a hand car as a catapult for takeoff, crashing the hand car into an oncoming train. His route then went northwest to Lordsburg, through the San Simon Valley east to west, and then on to Wilcox. Rodgers reached the Pasadena California 49 days later. But suffered another mishap while making the hops to the coast. After 3 weeks recovery, on December 10th he landed on the beach of the Pacific Ocean completing the first trans continental flight.

Back to Basics in the Vin Fiz Flyer
The Epic Flight of the Vin Fiz Flyer
The Vin Fiz - The First U.S. Transcontinental Flight
Vin Fiz Flyer

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