The Vin Fiz is an airplane that few people have heard of today, but in its day it was arguably the most famous airplane in the world. The odd name of the bird notwithstanding, the Vin Fiz was just a slightly modified Wright biplane. But thanks to a number of unusual circumstance, it became in 1911 the first airplane to fly from coast to coast across the Continental United States (which was all there was of the United States in 1911). The Vin Fiz moniker came from a soft drink manufacturer that put up the money for the voyage, which took months and a huge amount of infrastructure to pull off, including a support train tagging along. The pilot, Calbraith Perry Rodgers, a novice airman, bought the Wright plane to win a prize put forward by publisher William Randolph Hearst for the first trans-continental flight, but Rodgers never collected the cash. The flight departed from Long Island, New York, in mid-September, 1911, and proceeded across the country, making 75 landings and crashing 16 times, being constantly rebuilt along the way — it is said that the airplane that landed in Pasadena, California, before a crowd of many thousands of onlookers in early November, shared very few parts in common with the airplane that had taken off from New York weeks earlier. Rodgers suffered a horrible injury shortly after his landing in Pasadena, flew the Vin Fiz to the Pacific near Long Beach after he’d recovered sufficiently to get back in the cockpit but died shortly thereafter in yet another crash, this in the surf of the Pacific Ocean, his original destination. The Vin Fiz is today part of the collection of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.