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John Rodgers (15 January 1881 – 27 August 1926) was an officer in the United States Navy and an early aviator.


The great grandson of Commodores Rodgers and Perry, Rodgers was born in Washington, D.C.marker and graduated from the Naval Academymarker in 1903. His early naval career included service on ships of various types before studying flying in 1911 and becoming the second American naval officer to fly for the United States Navy. On September 1911, Lieutenant John Rodgers flew a crated (he then assembled) Wright Model B-1 aircraft delivered by Orville Wright at an armory in Annapolis, Marylandmarker, and then bringing Naval flight as a pioneer to the United States Navy.

He commanded Division 1, Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet in 1916; and, after the United Statesmarker entered World War I, he commanded the Submarine Base at New Londonmarker, Connecticutmarker.

Following the war, he served in European waters and received the Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding work on minesweeping operations in the North Seamarker. After several important assignments during the next five years, he commanded Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, in Langleymarker in 1925.

That year he made the first attempt at a non-stop flight from Californiamarker to Hawaiimarker while he was in command of the flying boat PN9-1. An additional plane that began the expedition, the PN9-3, was commanded by Lt. Allen P. Snody. The PN9-3 had engine failure and was forced to land about five hours into their flight. The two planes departed San Pablo Baymarker, California (near San Franciscomarker) on 31 August, but a fuel shortage forced his plane to land short of her destination on 1 September. While ships searched for the plane, Comdr. Rodgers led his crew in improvising sails from the plane's wing material to continue the trip afloat. Finally, nine days later, after sailing the plane to within 15 miles of Nawiliwili Bay, Kauaimarker, Rodgers was found by submarine on routine patrol and was towed near the reef outside of the port. The harbor master and his daughter rowed out to the plane and helped Rodgers and his crew surf over the reef and into the safety of the harbor.

After this experience, he served as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics until his accidental death in an airplane crash after the plane he was piloting suddenly nose-dived into the Delaware River on 27 August 1926.


Six ships were named in honor of him, his great-grandfather and grandfather – and . John Rodgers Airport (now Honolulu International Airportmarker) was also named after him. He was a cousin of pioneer transcontinental pilot Cal Rodgers.

In 2007, a full-length feature screenplay, Hawaii Calls, depicting these historic events was created by Rick Helin, a California screenwriter. As of early 2008, it is in the early pre-production stage.


  1. Air & Space Smithsonian, October/November 2002, Volume 18, Number 4, p. 16

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