Charles Lindbergh's Flight
In 1927, Charles Augustus Lindbergh became the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902, in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up on a farm in Minnesota. He went to the University of Wisconsin where he studied mechanical engineering. He left there and traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he made his first solo flight in 1923. After a year of working as a barnstormer, flying a stunt plane at fairs, he joined the army in 1924. He served as an Army Air Service Reserve pilot.
During the 1920's, a hotel owner, Raymond Orteig, was trying to find a pilot who could fly non-stop solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The route would be from New York to Paris. He offered a prize of $25,000. Charles Lindbergh asked for help from some St. Louis, Missouri, businessmen. He wanted to make the flight and win the prize. Even though other pilots had not been able to complete the flight, Lindbergh wanted to do it. He took off in a monoplane called the Spirit of St. Louis on May 20, 1927, from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York.
Lindbergh flew for 33.5 hours and landed at Le Bourget Field near Paris, France. The flight was more than 3,600 miles. 100,000 people welcomed him in France. After that, he became famous and people honored him wherever he went. President Calvin Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Lindbergh wanted to spend time going around the country urging people to get involved in flying and aviation. He gave speeches and rode in parades. Everywhere he went people enthusiastically welcomed him. He wrote a book called We which became a best-seller. He was given the nicknames 'Lucky Lindy' and 'Lone Eagle.' He became famous all over the world.
In 1929, Charles Lindbergh married Anne Morrow. He met her on a trip to Mexico. After he taught her how to fly, they could get away from the crowds up in the air. They set up air routes for aviation all over the world.
The Lindberghs bought an estate in Hopewell, New Jersey. Their first son was Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. He was kidnapped in 1932 at the age of 20 months. The kidnappers asked for a $50,000 ransom which the Lindberghs paid. However, they never saw their son alive again. His body was found in the woods near their house several weeks later.
The police arrested a man named Bruno Hauptman who was a carpenter. He was convicted and executed in 1936. The trial process was very upsetting to the family as the media blew it into a huge story. To get away, the Lindberghs moved to France and then England. He helped a French surgeon invent an early type of artificial heart. He worked with Pan-American Airlines on the Board and as a special advisor.
Nazi leader Hermann Goring invited him to tour the German aviation facilities. Lindbergh was somewhat concerned because he thought that German aviation was ahead of that of the United States. When he became involved with the America First Organization, which wanted the United States not to join the Second World War, he lost his appeal to the public. People thought he supported the Nazis. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Lindbergh became an advisor to the United Aircraft Company and worked with Henry Ford on building bombers for the Army Air Corps.
Lindbergh's book called The Spirit of St. Louis was written in 1953. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1954 in the category of Biography or Autobiography. He died in his home in Maui in 1974. Charles Lindbergh's work began the age of aviation and his story gave inspiration to many young aviators. His grandson Erik recreated his grandfather's earlier flight in 2002.
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