|You are in: Virtual Museum of Science >> Air and Space Museum >> Charles Lindbergh|
|Charles Augustus Lindbergh|
Charles Lindbergh with the Spirit of St. Louis 1927
February 4, 1902(1902-02-04)
August 26, 1974 (aged 72)
Kipahulu, Maui, Hawaii
|Spouse(s)||Anne Morrow Lindbergh|
By Anne Morrow Lindbergh:
Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr.
Land Morrow Lindbergh
Anne Spencer Lindbergh (Perrin)
Reeve Lindbergh (Brown)
By Brigitte Hesshaimer:
Astrid Hesshaimer Bouteuil
By Marietta Hesshaimer:
Charles August Lindbergh
Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh
On May 20–21, 1927, Lindbergh emerged instantaneously from virtual obscurity to world fame as the result of his Orteig Prize-winning solo non-stop flight from Roosevelt Field in New York City to Le Bourget Field in Paris in the single-seat, single-engine monoplane Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh, an Army reserve officer, was also awarded the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his historic exploit.
His exploit was marred however by the subsequent kidnap and murder of his baby son.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Lindbergh used his fame to relentlessly help promote the rapid development of U.S. commercial aviation. In the later 1930s and up until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lindbergh was an outspoken advocate of keeping the U.S. out of the world conflict (as was his Congressman father during World War I) and became a leader of the anti-war America First movement. Nonetheless, he supported the war effort after Pearl Harbor and flew many combat missions in the Pacific Theater as a civilian consultant, even though President Roosevelt had refused to reinstate his Army Air Corps colonel's commission that he had resigned earlier in 1939.
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan, on February 4, 1902, but spent most of his childhood in Little Falls, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C. He was the only child of Swedish emigrant Charles August Lindbergh (birth name Carl Månsson) (1859–1924), and Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh (1876–1954), of Detroit. The elder Lindbergh was a U.S. Congressman (R-MN 6th) from 1907 to 1917 who gained notoriety when he opposed the entry of the U.S. into World War I. Mrs. Lindbergh was a teacher at Cass Technical High School in Detroit and later at Little Falls (MN) High School from which her son graduated in 1918. Lindbergh also attended over a dozen other schools from Washington, D.C. to California during his childhood and teenage years (none for more than one full year) including the Force School and Sidwell Friends School while living in Washington, D.C. with his father, and Redondo Union High School in California. The Lindberghs were divorced in 1909 when their son was seven.
From an early age Charles Lindbergh had exhibited an interest in the mechanics of motorized transportation including his family's Saxon "Six" automobile, later his Excelsior motorbike, and by the time he enrolled as a mechanical engineering student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1920, he had also become fascinated with flying even though he "had never been close enough to a plane to touch it." Lindbergh dropped out of the engineering program in February 1922, and a month later headed to Lincoln, Nebraska, to enroll as a student at the flying school operated by the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation. Arriving on April 1, 1922, he flew for the first time in his life nine days later when he took to the air as a passenger in a two-seat Lincoln-Standard "Tourabout" biplane piloted by Otto Timm.
A few days later Lindbergh took his first formal flying lesson in that same machine with instructor pilot Ira O. Biffle, although the 20-year old student pilot would never be permitted to "solo" during his time at the school because he could not afford to post a bond which the president of the company, Ray Page, insisted upon in the event the novice flyer were to damage the school's only trainer in the process. Thus in order to both gain some needed experience and earn money for additional instruction, Lindbergh left Lincoln in June to spend the summer and early fall barnstorming across Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana as a wing walker and parachutist with E.G. Bahl, and later H.L. Lynch. During this time he also briefly held a job as an airplane mechanic in Billings, Montana, working at the Billings Municipal Airport (later renamed Billings Logan International Airport). When winter came, however, Lindbergh returned to his father's home in Minnesota and did not fly again for over six months.
Lindbergh's first solo flight did not come until May 1923 at Souther Field in Americus, Georgia, a former Army flight training field to which he had come to buy a World War I-surplus Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplane. Even though Lindbergh had not had a lesson (or even flown) in more than half a year, he had nonetheless already secretly decided that he was ready to take to the air by himself. And so, after just half an hour of dual time with a pilot who was visiting the field to pick up another surplus JN-4, Lindbergh flew on his own for the first time in the Jenny that he had just purchased there for $500. After spending another week or so at the field to "practice" (thereby acquiring all of five hours of "pilot in command" time), Lindbergh took off from Americus for Montgomery, Alabama, on his first solo cross country flight, and went on to spend much of the rest of 1923 engaged in virtually nonstop barnstorming under the name of "Daredevil Lindbergh." Unlike the previous year, however, this time Lindbergh did so in his "own ship" — and as a pilot. A few weeks after leaving Americus, the young airman achieved another key aviation milestone when he made his first nighttime flight near Lake Village, Arkansas.
Lindbergh damaged his "Jenny" on several occasions over the summer, usually by breaking the prop on landing. His most serious accident came when he ran into a ditch in a farm field in Glencoe, MN, on June 3, 1923, while flying his father (who was then running for the U.S. Senate) to a campaign stop which grounded him for a week until he could repair his ship. In October Lindbergh flew his Jenny to Iowa where he sold it to a flying student of his. (Found stored in a barn in Iowa almost half a century later, Lindbergh's dismantled Jenny was carefully restored in the early 1970s and is now on display at the Cradle of Aviation Museum located in Garden City, L.I., NY, adjacent to the site once occupied by Roosevelt Field from which Lindbergh took off on his flight to Paris in 1927.)  After selling the Jenny, Lindbergh returned to Lincoln by train where he joined up with Leon Klink and continued to barnstorm through the South for the next few months in Klink's Curtis JN-4C "Canuck" (the Canadian version of the Jenny). Lindbergh also "cracked up" this plane once when his engine failed shortly after take off in Pensacola, FL, but again he managed to repair the damage himself.
Following a few months of barnstorming through the South, the two pilots parted company in San Antonio, Texas, where Lindbergh had been ordered to report to Brooks Field on March 19, 1924, to begin a year of military flight training with the United States Army Air Service both there and later at nearby Kelly Field. Late in his training Lindbergh experienced his worst flying accident on March 5, 1925, when he was involved in a midair collision eight days before graduation with another Army S.E.5 while practicing aerial combat maneuvers and was forced to bail out. Only 18 of the 104 cadets who started flight training remained when Lindbergh graduated first overall in his class in March 1925 thereby earning his Army pilot's wings and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Service Reserve Corps. With the Army not then in need of additional active duty pilots, however, Lindbergh immediately returned to civilian aviation as a barnstormer and flight instructor, although as a reserve officer he also continued to do some part time military flying by joining the 110th Observation Squadron, 35th Division, Missouri National Guard, in St. Louis in November 1925 and was soon promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
Lindbergh later noted in "WE", his best selling book published in July 1927, just two months after making his historic flight to Paris, that he considered this year of Army flight training to be the critically important one in his development as both a focused, goal oriented individual, as well as a skillful and resourceful aviator.
"Always there was some new experience, always something interesting going on to make the time spent at Brooks and Kelly one of the banner years in a pilot's life. The training is difficult and rigid but there is none better. A cadet must be willing to forget all other interest in life when he enters the Texas flying schools and he must enter with the intention of devoting every effort and all of the energy during the next 12 months towards a single goal. But when he receives the wings at Kelly a year later he has the satisfaction of knowing that he has graduated from one of the world's finest flying schools."
In October 1925, Lindbergh was hired by the Robertson Aircraft Corporation (RAC) in St. Louis (were he had been working as a flight instructor) to first lay out, and then serve as chief pilot for the newly designated 278-mile (447 km) Contract Air Mail Route #2 (CAM-2) to provide service between St. Louis and Chicago (Maywood Field) with two intermediate stops in Springfield and Peoria, Illinois.  Operating from Robertson's home base at the Lambert-St. Louis Flying Field in Anglum, Missouri, Lindbergh and three other RAC pilots, Philip R. Love, Thomas P. Nelson, and Harlan A. "Bud" Gurney, flew the mail over CAM-2 in a fleet of four modified war surplus de Havilland DH-4 biplanes. Two days before he opened service on the route on April 15, 1926, with its first early morning southbound flight from Chicago to St. Louis, Lindbergh officially became authorized to be entrusted with the "care, custody, and conveyance" of U.S. Mails by formally subscribing and swearing to the Post Office Department's 1874 Oath of Mail Messengers. It would not take long for him to be presented with the circumstances to prove how seriously he took this obligation.
Twice during the 10 months that he flew CAM-2, Lindbergh involuntarily lost custody and control of the mail when he was forced to bail out of his mail plane owing to bad weather, equipment problems, and/or fuel exhaustion. Both incidents came while he was approaching Chicago at night: first near Ottawa, IL, on September 16, 1926, and then near Covell, IL, on November 3, 1926. After landing in rural farm fields by parachute, his first concern on both occasions was to immediately locate the wreckage of his crashed mail planes, make sure that the bags of mail were promptly secured and salvaged, and then to see that they were entrained or trucked on to Chicago with as little further delay as possible. Lindbergh continued on as chief pilot of CAM-2 until mid-February 1927, when he left for San Diego, California, to oversee the design and construction of the Spirit of St. Louis.
Although Lindbergh never returned to service as a regular Air Mail pilot, for many years after making his historic nonstop flight to Paris he used the immense fame that his exploits had brought him to help promote the use of the Air Mail service. He did this by giving many speeches on its behalf, and by carrying souvenir mail on both special promotional domestic flights as well as on a number of international flights over routes in Latin America and the Caribbean which he had laid out as a consultant to Pan American Airways to then be flown under contract to the Post Office Department as Foreign Air Mail (FAM) routes. At the request of Capt. Basil L. Rowe, the owner and Chief Pilot of West Indian Aerial Express and a fellow Air Mail pioneer and advocate, in February 1928, Lindbergh also carried a small amount of special souvenir mail between Santo Domingo, R.D., Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Havana, Cuba in the Spirit of St. Louis.
Those cities were the last three stops that he and the Spirit made during their 7,800-mile "Good Will Tour" of Latin America and the Caribbean between December 13, 1927 and February 8, 1928, during which he flew to México, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba and spent 125 hours in the air. The final two legs of the 48-day tour were also the only flights on which officially sanctioned, postally franked mail was ever carried in the Spirit of St. Louis. Exactly two weeks later, Lindbergh also "returned" to flying CAM-2 for two days so that he could pilot a series of special flights (northbound on February 20; southbound on February 21) on which many tens of thousands of self-addressed souvenir covers sent in from all over the nation and the world were cacheted, flown, backstamped, and then returned to their senders as a further means to promote awareness and the use of the Air Mail service. Souvenir covers and other artifacts associated with or carried on flights piloted by Lindbergh are still actively collected under the general designation of "Lindberghiana."
Designated to be awarded to the pilot of the first successful nonstop flight made in either direction between New York City and Paris within five years after its establishment, the $25,000 Orteig Prize was first offered by the French born New York hotelier (Lafayette Hotel) Raymond Orteig on May 19, 1919. Although that initial time limit lapsed without a serious challenger, the state of aviation technology had advanced sufficiently by 1924 to prompt Orteig to extend his offer for another five years, and this time it began to attract an impressive grouping of well known, highly experienced, and well financed contenders. Ironically the one exception among these competitors was the still boyish, 25-year old relative latecomer to the race — Charles Lindbergh — who, in relation to the others, was virtually anonymous to the public as an aviation figure, had considerably less overall flying experience, and was being primarily financed by just a $15,000 bank loan and his own modest savings.
The first of the well known challengers to actually attempt a flight was famed World War I French fighter ace René Fonck who on September 21, 1926, planned to fly eastbound from Roosevelt Field in New York in a three-engine Sikorsky S-35. Fonck never got off the ground, however, as his grossly overloaded (by 10,000 lbs) transport biplane crashed and burned on takeoff when its landing gear collapsed. (While Fonck escaped the flames, his two crew members, Charles N. Clavier and Jacob Islaroff, died in the fire.) U.S. Naval aviators LCDR Noel Davis and LT Stanton H. Wooster were also killed in a takeoff accident at Langley Field, VA, on April 26, 1927, while testing the three-engine Keystone Pathfinder biplane, American Legion, that they intended to use for the flight. Less than two weeks later, the first contenders to actually get airborne were French war heroes Captain Charles Nungesser and his navigator, François Coli, who departed from Paris - Le Bourget Airport on May 8, 1927 on a westbound flight in the Levasseur PL 8, The White Bird (L'Oiseau Blanc). All contact was lost with them after crossing the coast of Ireland, however, and they were never seen or heard from again.
American air racer Clarence D. Chamberlin and Arctic explorer CDR (later RADM) Richard E. Byrd were also in the race. Although he did not win, Chamberlin and his passenger, Charles Levine, made the far less well remembered second successful nonstop flight across the Atlantic in the single engine Wright-Bellanca WB-2 Miss Columbia (N-X-237) leaving Roosevelt Field two weeks after Lindbergh's flight on June 4, 1927, and landing in Eisleben, Germany near Berlin 43 hours and 31 minutes later on June 6, 1927. (Ironically the Chamberlin monoplane was the same one that the Lindbergh group had originally intended to purchase for his attempt but passed on when the plane's manufacturer insisted on selecting the pilot.) Byrd followed suit in the Fokker F.VII trimotor, America, flying with three others from Roosevelt Field on June 29, 1927. Although they reached Paris on July 1, 1927, Byrd was unable to land there because of weather and was forced to return to the Normandy coast where he ditched the tri-motor high wing monoplane near the French village of Ver-sur-Mer.
Six well known aviators had thus already lost their lives in pursuit of the Orteig Prize when Lindbergh took off on his successful attempt in the early morning of May 20, 1927. Dubbed the Spirit of St. Louis, his "partner" was a fabric covered, single-seat, single-engine "Ryan NYP" high wing monoplane (CAB registration: N-X-211) designed by Donald Hall and custom built by Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego, California. Although the primary source of funding for the purchase of the Spirit and other expenses related to the overall New York to Paris effort came from a $15,000 State National Bank of St. Louis loan made on February 18, 1927, to St. Louis businessmen Harry H. Knight and Harold M. Bixby, the project's two principal trustees, and another $1,000 donated by Frank Robertson of RAC on the same day, Lindbergh himself also personally contributed $2,000 of his own money from both his savings and his earnings from the 10 months that he flew the Air Mail for RAC.
Burdened by its heavy load of 450 gallons of gasoline (2,709 lbs) and hampered by a muddy, rain soaked runway, Lindbergh's Wright Whirlwind powered monoplane gained speed very slowly as it made its 7:52 AM takeoff run from Roosevelt Field, but its J-5C radial engine still proved powerful enough to allow the "Spirit" to clear the telephone lines at the far end of the field "by about twenty feet with a fair reserve of flying speed." Over the next 33.5 hours he and the "Spirit" — which Lindbergh always jointly referred to simply as "WE" — faced many challenges including skimming over both storm clouds at 10,000 feet (3,000 m) and wave tops at as low at 10 ft (3.0 m), fighting icing, flying blind through fog for several hours, and navigating only by the stars (when visible) and "dead reckoning" before landing at Le Bourget at 10:22 PM on 21 May. A crowd estimated at 150,000 spectators stormed the field, dragged Lindbergh out of the cockpit, and literally carried him around above their heads for "nearly half an hour." While some damage was done to the "Spirit" (especially to the fabric covering on the fuselage) by souvenir hunters, both Lindbergh and the Spirit were eventually "rescued" from the mob by a group of French military flyers, soldiers, and police who took them both to safety in a nearby hangar. From that moment on, however, life would never again be the same for the previously little known former Air Mail pilot who, by his successful flight, had just achieved virtually instantaneous — and lifelong — world fame.
The French Foreign Office flew the American flag, the first time it had saluted someone not a head of state. Gaston Doumergue, the President of France, bestowed the French Légion d'honneur on the young Capt. Lindbergh, and on his arrival back in the United States aboard the United States Navy cruiser USS Memphis (CL-13) on June 11, 1927, a fleet of warships and multiple flights of military aircraft including pursuit planes, bombers, and the rigid airship USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), escorted him up the Potomac River to Washington, D.C. where President Calvin Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross. On that same day the U.S. Post Office Department issued a 10-Cent Air Mail stamp (Scott C-10) depicting the Spirit of St. Louis and a map of the flight. A ticker-tape parade was held for him down 5th Avenue in New York City on June 13, 1927. The following night the City of New York further honored Capt. Lindbergh with a grand banquet at the Hotel Commodore attended by some 3,600 people.
Unauthorized Site: This site and its contents are not affiliated, connected, associated with or authorized by the individual, family, friends, or trademarked entities utilizing any part or the subject's entire name. Any official or affiliated sites that are related to this subject will be hyper linked below upon submission and Evisum, Inc. review.
Please join us in our mission to incorporate America's Four United Republics discovery-based curriculum into the classroom of every primary and secondary school in the United States of America by July 2, 2026, the nation’s 250th birthday. , the United States of America: We The People. Click Here
Is it Real?
Constitution of 1777
Constitution of 1787
William H. Taft
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Gerald R. Ford
James Earl Carter, Jr.
Barack H. Obama