I was depressed and felt trapped in my single-window office so I decided to create an adventure: a self-initiated right of passage that would challenge me completely and provide rich rewards if I rose to meet it.
Any aircraft I’d been in so far had required a boarding pass.
So I left New York City and moved to the West Coast to learn to pilot a trike - little more than a hang glider strapped to a go kart - and then fly it back across America.
Less than a decade after the airplane was invented, Calbraith Perry Rodgers became the first man to fly across America. His 84-day sprint involved 17 crashes, multiple rebuilds of his aircraft, “The Vin Fiz,” andthe oppressive presence of his own mother (following along via train). After completing the flight, Cal achieved another first: he became the first pilot to die from bird strike, plummeting into the Pacific Ocean and onto the back burners of history. His sole monument is a grave in Pittsburgh, its epitaph faint: I ENDURE / I CONQUER.
99% of the pilots I’ve met haven’t heard of him and he’s flat out ignored in some texts. Beginning on September 17, 2016, I will retrace Cal’s flight over the course of 40+ flying days. My quest is to become him; to eke a hero out of myself and to do it all on film, sparing no detail.