Was First Man to Cross Continent in Airship (Aeroplane).
Falls Within Five Hundred Feet of Spot Where He Finished Continental Flight.
Most Noted Birdman Meets Sudden Death.
Rodgers' Death Makes 127 Fatalities (While 22 Have Occurred) in This Country Since Beginning of Aviation
- Had Often Talked of Accidents to Other Aviators -
Said They Were Caused by "Etherial Asphyxia"
or "Aerial Sommpathy,
Chattanooga, Tennessee, Daily Times,
April 4, 1912,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 8-20-05
"Rodgers, for a week, had been making daily flights here, and had taken up with him many passengers, both men and women. Today he started from his usual place and soared out over the ocean, crossing the pier, and then returning, dipped close to a roller coaster in a beach amusement park.
"Seeing a flock of gulls disporting themselves among a great shoal of sardines, just over the breakers, Rodgers again turned and dived down into the, scattering the seafowl in all directions.
"Highly elated with the outcome of his dive, Rodgers then flew farther out to sea, all the time gradually rising until he had reached a height of about 200 feet.
Making a short (steep?) turn, he started at full speed for a pier, then suddenly dipped his planes and his machine began a frightful (rapid?) descent. Rodgers was seen by hundreds of persons on the pier to relax his hold on the levers and then, seemingly realizing that he was in danger, he made strenuous efforts to pull the nose of his machine into a level position.
Death Near Spot Where He Finished Long Flight Failing in this, he managed to turn his craft further in shore and an instant later the craft crashed into the edge of the surf, not 500 feet from the spot where, on Dec. 10 last, he had finished his ocean-to-ocean flight. Many men rushed to his aid.
"Ernest Scott and James Godwin, life guards, were first to reach him. They said Rodgers head was hanging over one wing of the machine; the heavy engine was on his back, and the feet were drawn up, nearly doubling up over his shoulders.
"Rodgers was lifted from the wreck, and hurried to the bath house hospital. He died on the way.
"Examination showed his neck, jawbone and back had been broken.
"A telegram was sent to the aviator's widow, who lives in Pasadena, and a cablegram to his mother, Mrs. S. Schweitzer, who is now in London. The body was prepared for burial and sent to Pasadena tonight.
"The machine that Rodgers used today was the one with which he won $11,000 in prizes last year at the Chicago endurance meet. It is a wreck, many parts having been swept out to sea by the tide.
Rodgers' cousin, Lieut. John Rodgers, U.S.N., now is attached to the aeroplane section of the navy at San Diego.
Charles Shaffer, a close friend of Rodgers, and who came here on the special train that followed the aviator in his continental trip, witnessed the accident. In speaking of Rodgers' carefree spirit while in the air, Mr. Shaffer had taken many flights with Rodgers, but the most surprising example of recklessness he had seen was yesterday.
"We had risen to a height of about 5,000 feet,"said Shaffer, "and were off to the northeast. The wind was strong, but not puffy. Rodgers, feigning he was tired lay back, folded his hands behind his head and stretched out his feet, seemingly enjoying the scenery. I said to him: 'You had better watch out, Cal; the wind might get you,' but he answered: 'Oh, we're all right; she's ridden the wind before, and she'll ride it now."
Rodgers Had Planned Trip to Alaska
Boston, Mass. April 3. - A. Holland Forbes, president of the Aero Club of Connecticut, and one of the officers of the Aero Club of America in Boston, tonight expressed deep sorrow at the death of Calbraith P. Rodgers. Mr. Forbes said that he was planning with Rodgers only about a week ago and that Rodgers was planning after his California flights, to make a long trip over the sea up the coast of North America to Alaska.
Expressions of Regret at the Death of Rodgers - Aero Club of America Stirred - Mother Always Afraid New York, April 3. - Members of the Aero Club of America received the news of Calbraith P. Rodgers' death tonight, with expressions of regret. After his epoch-making flight across the continent, he was tendered a banquet by the Aero club and honored with a gold medal.
Rodgers' transcontinental flight begun at Sheepshead Bay racetrack, Brooklyn, Sept. 17, 1911, was marked on the second day out by a crash into a tree, and when within sight of Long Beach, his Pacific coast goal, he fell and was laid up nearly a month.
Interspersed by these more serious accidents, there was a succession of smash-ups and lucky escapes during the trip, which with long delays due to weather, made it a matter of nearly three months before, on Dec. 10, 1911, Rodgers finally landed at Long Beach, and was acclaimed the world's aviation hero. His persistence and nerve had carried him a distance of more than 5,000 miles. His machine was broken and repaired so many times that only the vertical rudder and the drip pan of the original outfit remained when he reached the Pacific coast.
Although Rodgers lived much of the time here, his home was in Havre de Grace, Maryland. He leaves a mother, whose enthusiasm over the fame which her son won has always been tempered with her fear that eventually he would meet some such death as came to him today. At the time of his first fall in a tree near Middletown, N.Y., his mother journeyed there to plead with him to give up the flight, but he assured her he would be cautious, and proceeded.
Rodgers had often talked of the deaths of other aviators. "Etherial Asphyxia or aerial somnipathy"had been the trouble with many, he said.
"It lurks in the pockets of the upper air strata and creeps irresistibly upon the senses of an aviator, lulling him into a dreamy unconsciousness."
Rodgers' death makes 127 aeroplane fatalities since aviation began. He is the twenty-second American aviator to be killed.