I believe it was with apprehension that Cal Rogers set his “Vin Fiz” down in Cicero airfield on the afternoon of October 8th, 1911, rather than with a sense of accomplishment. Cal was now officially 21 days out of New York City. He had flown just 1/3 of the distance to California. He had crashed (using a most generous definition of the term) six times, or about once every 166 miles. At this rate he had to assume he would crash another six times before he reached the foot of the Rockies at Denver, Colorado. And he would either be spending Christmas somewhere in Utah, or dead. The Pony Express was proving faster than the" Vin Fiz Flyer". Upon landing in Chicago Cal immediately telegraphed William Randolph Hearst to request an extension of the time limit for the $50,000 prize offered by his newspapers. But Cal could not have known that W.R., as Mr. Hearst liked to be called, had no intention of letting anybody actually win the prize money.
Like most self described “self made” millionaires (such as Donald Trump), William Randolph Hearst was the son of a millionaire. When W.R. was kicked out of Harvard, where the boy had struggled to survive on a $500 a month allowance (the equivalence of $11,000 a month today), it seemed he was destined for failure – well, as only the pampered only son of a millionaire could fail, because the only thing bigger than the fortune which W.R. would eventually gain control of, was his ego.
- 30 -NEXT: THE OTHER MAN RETURNS.