The Flight of the Vin Fiz
The Vin Fiz II, pictured in an open field just west of Sanderson, on October 28, 1986, two days short of 75 years since the original's
last departure in 1911.
Vin Fiz - Sanderson Connection ~ 1986
Fast forward to 1986, the 75th anniversary year of the first Vin Fiz flight. Mr.
James Robert Lloyd, a materials scientist from Fishkill, NY, backed by the original sponsor Armour Packing Company of Chicago, had
a replica of the Vin Fiz constructed to reenact the first US transcontinental flight. Of course the original Vin Fiz had disappeared
decades before, the original only consisting of a vertical rudder, an engine drip pan and one strut due to replacement of damaged
parts on the flight. Lloyd's aircraft, however, was a close copy, but with the addition of modern navigation aids.
Cal Rodgers' only navigation equipment was a length of string tied to one strut, flapping in the wind, to indicate whether he was
ascending or descending! The only other aid he had was that the railroads sometimes whitewashed ties along the route to help
him find his way.
As for safety equipment, Rodgers made his 4300-mile trip without even a safety belt, but Lloyd's plane not only
had a seat belt but a parachute for the entire plane.
And, instead of a special train for support, the modern flight was followed
by a caravan of motor homes and trailers.
Pilot Jim Lloyd, dressed in a period pilot's costume and surrounded by appreciative Sanderson residents.
Shot of the 'cockpit' of the Vin Fiz replica. Note the autographs on the wing, signed by visitors at each stop.
Lloyd tried to follow the route as closely as possible, eliminating the times when Rodgers got lost or took a wrong turn. Still,
he was subject to the same unforeseen caprices of nature and unexpected mishaps and breakdowns as Rodgers found on his trip.
A plane that weighs only 900 pounds with pilot certainly has to be careful of high winds and inclement weather.
On October 28,
1986, the Vin Fiz set down at Dryden briefly, then came on to an improvised landing field in west Sanderson, to an enthusiastic welcome.
Lloyd, in period pilot's costume, climbed down off his machine to greet a large crowd of Sanderson citizens, recreating the original
landing almost exactly. All along the trip folks who had been at the original landing and other spectators were allowed to sign
the wing of the bi-plane. Lloyd answered questions and handed out commemorative posters, buttons and post cards honoring the
event. After about an hour he remounted his plane and took to the skies. On this flight, however, he did not replicate
the fender-bender that crippled Rodgers' plane and its Sanderson take-off in 1911.
The Vin Fiz and pilot Jim Lloyd, concluding their 1986 visit to Sanderson, prepare to taxi down the improvised runway and take off.
Their departure was not marred by the 1911 incident when the original Vin Fiz clipped a fence and had to set back down for repairs.
Vin Fiz - Sanderson Connection ~ 2011
Alas, the 100th anniversary flight of the Vin Fiz will not include Sanderson on its itinerary.
A group of high school students in Fostoria, OH, along with other high schoolers, under the sponsorship of the National Lab Network,
will construct a non-flying copy of the Vin Fiz for exhibition along the truncated flight path of the Challenger II, an ultralight
sport plane loaded with scientific equipment, as such, a flying laboratory. The Challenger II will attempt the first leg of
the original journey from New York to Chicago to Dayton, OH in the fall of 2011, and complete the journey to California when funds
Interesting Vin Fiz related links:
The Challenger II, an ultralight sport plane, along with a non-flying copy of the Vin Fiz, are being constructed by high school students
in Ohio and their adult, engineer sponsors, to follow the original first leg of the historic Vin Fiz transcontinental flight in 1911.
In the fall of 2011 they will take off from New York, travel to Chicago and end in Dayton, OH. The Challenger II will be
loaded with scientific equipment to help students design and carry out in-air experiments in aerodynamics and other studies. When
funding permits they will attempt to complete the flight to California following the original route.