An airplane buff took off in a biplane from a makeshift runway Wednesday to reenact the first transcontinental flight.
Jim Lloyd, a 38-year-old metallurgist, took off just 75 years after Calbraith P. Rodgers launched his flight on Sept. 17, 1911.
Rodgers took off from a Brooklyn, N.Y., race track, but Lloyd could not use the same runway because a housing complex is there now.
Aside from the takeoff spot, Lloyd plans to make the same 76 stops Rodgers made. He also has lined up the same sponsor for the flight, which he hopes complete by reaching Long Beach, Calif., by Halloween
"One of the things is to let people know there was this guy Cal Rodgers who did this in 1911, which was a very brave thing," he said. "I want to play Cal Rodgers for six weeks. I want to see what it was like to fly back then."
Rodgers made the trip in response to a challenge by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, who had offered $50,000 to the first aviator to cross the country in less than 30 days.
Hearst was a flying buff who "liked even more to cover airplane crashes," said David Arns, a publicist for Armour Food Co. of Omaha, sponsor of Lloyd's flight (it was known as Armour and Co. when it sponsored Rodgers).
Rodgers had heard of Hearst's challenge and asked company President J. Ogden Armour for backing. Armour agreed, providing that Rodgers help promote the company's new product, a grape-flavored soft drink called Vin Fiz.
Lloyd saw the original plane in a museum and thought he would like to duplicate the feat. He wrote the company and asked for backing, and Armour agreed.