Charles Lindbergh

CHARLES LINDBERGH


Charles Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902 in Detroit, Michigan. His father was a United States Congressman and his mother a high school chemistry teacher. Charles moved to Little Falls in central Minnesota when he was a young child. In childhood, Lindbergh showed exceptional mechanical ability. At the age of 18 years, he entered the University of Wisconsin to study engineering. However, Lindbergh was more interested in the exciting, young field of aviation than he was in school. After two years, he left school to become a barnstormer, a pilot who performed daredevil stunts at fairs. In 1924, Lindbergh enlisted in the United States Army so that he could be trained as an Army Air Service Reserve pilot. In 1925, he graduated from the Army's flight-training school at Brooks and Kelly fields, near San Antonio, as the best pilot in his class. After Lindbergh completed his Army training, the Robertson Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis hired him to fly the mail between St. Louis and Chicago. He gained a reputation as a cautious and capable pilot. This job was a challenge and Lindbergh had to fly through terrible weather and land at towns without airports and runways.


While working at this job, he heard of a contest for the first nonstop transatlantic solo flight between New York City and Paris. The prize offered by Franco-American philanthropist Raymond Orteig was $25,000. This challenge was wrought with danger and had already taken the lives of six pilots. By 1927, the Orteig prize still had not been won. Lindbergh believed he could win it if he had the right airplane. He persuaded nine St. Louis businessmen to help him finance the cost of a plane. Lindbergh chose Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego to manufacture a special plane, which he helped design. He named the plane the Spirit of St. Louis. On May 10-11, 1927, Lindbergh tested the plane by flying from San Diego to New York City, with an overnight stop in St. Louis. The flight took 20 hours 21 minutes, a transcontinental record.


Charles Lindbergh's hazardous journey began early on the morning of May 20, 1927, with little pre-flight publicity. At the heart of the Ryan NYP, called the "Spirit of St. Louis, was a new 220- horsepower Wright Whirlwind engine. Lindbergh was counting on its reliability and efficiency to make the seemingly imposible flight. There was no radio or parachute. Every ounce of surplus weight was eliminated during the construction of his plane to make room for fuel.


Ryan NYP(Spirit of St. Louis) Specs


Wingspan: (46 ft)
Length: (27 ft 8 in)
Height: (9 ft 10 in)
Weight, gross: (5,135 lb)
Weight, empty: (2,150 lb)
Engine: Wright Whirlwind J-5C, 223 hp
Manufacturer: Ryan Aeronautical Co., San Diego, Calif., 1927


  • Click here to see Lindbergh's historic takeoff from Roosevelt Field near New York City (avi movie) - silent, 8 seconds, 300kb

  • Charles A. Lindbergh took off in The Spirit of St. Louis from Roosevelt Field near New York City at 7:52 AM on May, 20 1927,barely missing the telephone wires at the end of the Field.Packing a canteen of water, sandwiches, maps, and charts he headed the Ryan northeast along the coast, he was sighted later in the day flying over Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. From St. Johns, Newfoundland, Lindbergh flew eastward over the Atlantic through fog and darkness, hampered by ice and battling sleep, using only a magnetic compass, his airspeed indicator, and luck to navigate toward Ireland. The flight had captured the imagination of the American public like few events in history. Citizens waited nervously by their radios, listening for news of the flight. When Lindbergh was seen crossing the Irish coast, the world cheered and eagerly anticipated his arrival in Paris,A frenzied crowd of more than 100,000 people had gathered at Le Bourget Field to greet him. On May 21 at 10:21 P.M. Paris time (5:21 P.M. New York time)Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Field near Paris.He flew the 3,600 miles in thirty-three hours twenty-nine minutes.


    Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.This feat of perseverance and endurance made Charles Lindbergh the greatest sports hero in the 1920s. He won the enthusiasm and acclaim of the world and elated Americans at home. After resting for several days in Europe, President Calvin Coolidge sent a United States Navy ship to bring Lindbergh and Sprit of St. Louis back to America. After celebrations and a ticker tape parade in New York for Lindbergh, the truth about the dangerous voyage came out. Lindbergh had barely cleared the telephone lines on takeoff in his fuel-heavy plane and at times was just 10 feet over the ocean waves. He wrote a best selling novel on the story of his historic flight named We in the same year.


    In 1954 Charles Lindbergh received the Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography The Sprit of St. Louis He died on August 26, 1974 in Maui, Hawaii.

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    The United States was already well advanced in service and racing aircraft and in the operation of mail routes, but it took the romantic impact of Lindbergh's feat made the nation truly air-minded. His flight created the financial and technical climate necessary for large scale development of commercial and private aviation.

    1999 dgraves549@aol.com


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    Written & Edited by Darrell Graves

    1997 dgraves549@aol.com