On Oct. 8 Rodgers arrived in Chicago. He had covered 1,199 miles in a total flying time of 21 hours and 53 minutes. From Chicago to Springfield, Ill., Rodgers left fragments of himself and his plane at Streator, Peoria and Middle-town, Ill. Stiff, cold and exhausted by the strain of balancing himself precariously on his wind-whipped plane, Rodgers nonetheless remained determined. He said wearily when he reached Marshall, Mo., "I will accomplish the coast-to-coast flight if it is possible."
In Kansas City whistles on every packing house announced the arrival of the Vin Fiz, and ordinarily sane people spread bed sheets on their back lawns and rattled pots and pans to induce Rodgers to land on their 50-foot plots. But Rodgers wisely landed at Swope Park.
By then he realized he had no chance of winning the Hearst money. For reasons known only to himself, Rodgers decided to keep going. He headed south from Kansas City, and near Waco, Texas on Oct. 19 crowds damaged his plane so severely he had to make more repairs. But he had come to expect that sort of treatment.
Chafing had almost disintegrated the rigging of the Vin Fiz by the time it landed on Oct. 24 in a cotton field near Lacoste, Texas. The elevator and rudder cables were also shredding, and the engine constantly skipped, misfired and quite often quit in the air. One of Rodgers' unscheduled landings because of his faltering engine was in corn so tall that the crew from the train had to organize parties to beat their way to him. Then, at Spofford, Texas, he had to cut down cactus and stumps in a field with a machete before he could take off. But while taxiing down the field he hit a stump he had overlooked and damaged the lower left wing, skids, tail assembly and propellers of the plane. It took the tireless crew from the train until noon the next day to repair the damage.
As Rodgers crossed the peak of Sierra Blanca, water leaked from the water pump and steam hissed from leaking cylinder jackets. He landed in a field of sagebrush at Fort Hancock, Texas and cracked off the tail skid of the Vin Fiz. When the pilot train pulled up, Rodgers said, "It got awfully puffy, getting over that range."
The New York Times was optimistic about Rodgers' chances and in an editorial stated: "There is not as much talk as there should be about the courage and persistence of C. P. Rodgers.... Rodgers has completed two thirds of the trip and has had everything happen that can happen outside of death.... The margin of safety of the aeroplane is still too small to be rated as practical, but Rodgers inspires one to wait confidently for someone to make the aeroplane good enough."
Rodgers got across Texas and well into Arizona without too many more accidents. But on the desert near Stoval, Ariz., where the towns were 100 miles apart, both the Vin Fiz and the pilot train ran out of gas. Rodgers had to flag down a westbound express train to get a new supply of gas.
Not the same plane
Lack of gas wasn't the only problem Rodgers faced on the last lap of his journey. Only the rudder and a strut remained as original equipment of the frame of the new plane that had started out from Sheepshead Bay. And when a small screw came loose in the motor, causing a connecting rod to snap, Rodgers had to have a new engine installed.
He managed to cross the San Gorgonio Pass in California a few days later even though the plane was bounced about by strong headwinds. Water gushed from the radiator, which had shaken loose, and the magneto snapped its fittings. It took him two hours and 20 minutes to make a hundred miles, fighting the headwind all the way.