Charles A. Lindbergh is remembered as the first person to make
a nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, in 1927. This feat, when
Lindbergh was only twenty-five years old, assured him a lifetime of fame
and public attention.
Augustus Lindbergh was more interested in flying airplanes than he was in
studying. He dropped out of the University of Wisconsin after two years to earn
a living performing daredevil airplane stunts at country fairs. Two
years later, he joined the United States Army so that he could go
to the Army Air Service flight-training school. After completing his
training, he was hired to fly mail between St. Louis and Chicago.
Then came the historic flight across the Atlantic. In 1919, a New York City hotel owner offered a
prize of $25,000 to the first pilot to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. Nine St. Louis business leaders helped
pay for the plane Lindbergh designed especially for the flight.
Lindbergh tested the plane by flying it from San Diego to New York, with an
overnight stop in St. Louis. The flight took
only 20 hours and 21 minutes, a transcontinental record.
days later, on May 20,1927, Lindbergh took off from
Long Island, New York, at A. M. He landed at Paris on May 21 at P. M. He had flown more than 3,600 miles in less than thirty
four hours. His flight made news around the world. He was given
awards and parades everywhere he went. He was presented with the U. S. Congressional Medal of
Honor and the first Distinguished Flying Cross. For a long time,
Lindbergh toured the world as a U. S. goodwill
ambassador. He met his future wife, Anne Morrow, in Mexico, where her father was
the United States ambassador.
the 1930s, Charles and Anne Lindbergh worked for various airline companies,
charting new commercial air routes. In 1931, for a major airline,
they charted a new route from the east coast of the United States to the Orient. The
shortest, most efficient route was a great curve across Canada, over Alaska, and down to China and Japan. Most pilots
familiar with the Arctic did not believe that such a route was
possible. The Lindberghs took on the task
of proving that it was. They arranged for fuel and supplies to be set
out along the route. On July 29, they took off from Long Island in a specially equipped
small seaplane. They flew by day and each night landed on a lake or a
river and camped. Near Nome, Alaska, they had their first
serious emergency. Out of daylight and nearly out of fuel, they were
forced down in a small ocean inlet. In the next morning’s light, they
discovered they had landed on barely three feet of water. On
September 19, after two more emergency landings and numerous close calls,
they landed in China with the maps for a safe
airline passenger route.
while actively engaged as a pioneering flier, Lindbergh was also working as
an engineer. In 1935, he and Dr. Alexis Carrel were given a patent
for an artificial heart. During World War I in the 1940s, Lindbergh served
as a civilian technical advisor in aviation. Although he was a
civilian, he flew over fifty combat missions in the Pacific. In the 1950s,
Lindbergh helped design the famous 747 jet airliner. In the late
1960s, he spoke widely on conservation issues. He died August 1974,
having lived through aviation history from the time of the first powered
flight to the first steps on the moon and having influenced a big part of
that history himself.
did Lindbergh do before he crossed the Atlantic?