Pioneer Springs Settler Celebrates Third Decade of Piloting Ships in the Air
(from "The Home New Weekly", Miami Springs, Florida, December 19, 1947)
Not long ago genial John Rogerson of Miami Springs commemorated an important milestone of his professional career. He celebrated an anniversary - the thirtieth since he first stepped into a plane to steer its course through the clouds.
Today, lean, keen-eyed, and dynamic, Rogerson holds the title of master pilot with Pan American Airways, standing fourth in pilot seniority in the Pan Am World Airways system. Naturally, it took a heap of flying to land Rogerson in this enviable niche. Translating into time units - it took 20,000 hours of flying in peacetime and two world wars - a record which few pilots in any air line can equal.
In that same period, Captain Johnnie, as he is affectionately known by his friends, also made 75 Atlantic crossings, including the first mid-Atlantic survey flight for Pan American from Miami to Marrakeech, French Morocco.
When the United States entered the first world war, Rogerson, a young sprout from Long Island, N.Y., was studying at Springfield College, Mass. Eager to serve the Allied cause, he quit college and [went] to Canada where he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps. Soon he was getting his heart's desire - flight training, and, as he smilingly recalls, "It was those oldtime rotary-motored planes that we trained with - Avros, Sopwith Scouts, and Sopwith Camels."
Rogerson managed to get to England the same year and soon was flying instructor in Canada's air squadron. Those days are particularly vivid in Rogerson's mind bacuase of the man he drew as commanding officer. "My C.O. was Britain's most famous ace - Col. W.A. Bishop." Indeed it was Billy Bishop who downed Germany's celebrated "Black Ace", the daring pilot, Baron von Richtoven.
Canada eventually organized her own air force and her #1 and #2 squadrons were all set for combat when, to the disappointment of our youthful airman, the 1918 armistice was declared.
Rogerson remained with the Canadian air force, later absorbed into the British, until 1923, when he returned to the states. The years 1924-25 found him barnstorming through Cuba with an old Curtiss "Jennie" and, as he reminded, "The Miami to Havana run was quite a thing in those days." On one of his stops in Hialeah in that period, incidentally, he distinctly remembers staying at the still existent Palm Hotel.
In 1926 the young flier definitely settled in Florida, associating himself with D.G. Carruthers, also a former R.A.F. officer, and Andrew Heermance, (the latter also remaining in Miami Springs to become one of her "oldtimers".