Aviation Pioneers

Charles Lindbergh – First Solo Transatlantic Flight

Charles Lindbergh became the first pilot with solo flight to cross the Atlantic Ocean (Transatlantic Flight), flying a distance of 5,800 kilometers from New York to Paris in 33.5 hours alone, with his plane named Spirit of St. Louis on 20-21 May 1927. This flight, which was realized with the technical facilities of that time and only with the help of a compass, was approved by the International Aviation Federation (The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale “FAI”) as a world record.

Who is Charles Lindberg?

Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. was born on February 4, 1902 in Detroit. His father is attorney Charles Augustus Lindbergh Sr. and her mother is teacher Evangeline Lodge Land. Lindbergh had an enormous interest in machines as a child. When he was 18, he entered the University of Wisconsin. After studying engineering for two years at university, he left school due to his interest in aircraft and entered the emerging field of aviation. He began to perform shows that were very new and dangerous for those days, such as walking on the wings of airplanes in the town fairs, hanging down from high-speed airplanes and jumping off the plane with a parachute. He became famous for his courage.

In 1923, he bought a 90-horsepower aircraft, model Curtis JN-4, out of the army with a 900 $ loan from the bank with his father’s surety. He enrolled in the flight school of the United States Army in San Antonio to become a pilot in 1924. He graduated from the flight training school in 1925 with the first place. After graduating from flight school, he took a job as a postal plane pilot at Robertson Aircraft Corporation in 1926. He became the first pilot to carry mail between St. Louis and Chicago.

First solo transatlantic flight
source: charleslindbergh.org

To capitalize on Lindbergh’s reputation, the American Government began sending him to countries where he was invited as a goodwill ambassador. He met Anne Spencer Morrow, the daughter of the American Consul, at the Mexican stop on his trip to Latin American countries and married with her in 1929. They had 6 children from this marriage.

Their first child, the 20-month-old Charles Augustus Lindbergh III (1930 – 1933), was abducted by an unknown person who leaned a staircase to the boy’s bedroom window while sleeping in his crib in their home in New Jersey. After 10 weeks of search and ransom negotiations, they found his son’s body a few kilometers from their home. A German immigrant named Bruno Hauptmann was caught as the killer of his son. He was executed in 1938 after he was tried and found guilty. This case went down in history as the “case of the century” due to the interest of the press and the public. After this trial was heard, Lindbergh family moved to England to stay out of the public eye.

While Lindbergh family was living in Europe, France and Germany invited Lindbergh to their countries to showcase their industrial advances in aviation. Lindbergh was particularly impressed by the developments that Nazi Germany had made in the aviation industry. While in this country, he was awarded the German medal of honor by Hermann Goering in 1938. Lindbergh and his family returned to America in 1939.

Lindbergh’s father had resigned from Congress to protest the United States entering the First World War without any reason, and joined the American Committee first. Charles Lindbergh also joined the same committee and became the chief speaker to prevent the United States from entering World War II. In his speeches, he accused Franklin D. Roosevelt of unnecessarily leading Jews and the British into war. However, after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he wanted to stop these activities and enroll in the army, and this request was not accepted by the authorities. In order to serve his country at Lindbergh, he accepted the technical advisory and test pilot positions offered by Ford Motor Company and United Aircraft Corporation, and went there to inspect and provide technical consultancy to the aircraft fleets of the United States in the Pacific Ocean. Thus, Lindbergh took part in the United States’ war against the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean, unofficially participating in 50 flight missions and fighting on the front lines against the Japanese.

First solo transatlantic flight
First solo transatlantic flight

After the war, Lindbergh retreated to his own shell and advised various aviation companies. He helped the design of Boeing 747 passenger plane. He was restored by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1953, Lindbergh published his book named The Spirit of St. Louis which describes his passage of the Atlantic Ocean alone in 1927. This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954. In the late 1960s Lindbergh spent devoted to environmental protection activities. He spent his last years on Maui, one of the Hawaiian Islands. He died of cancer on August 26, 1974 on Maui and is buried there.

The Reason of First solo transatlantic flight

In 1919, a French-American hotel owner named Raymond Orteig announced that he would award 25,000 $ to the first pilot to fly non-stop from New York to Paris. By 1927, no one had managed to win Orteig’s prize yet. On May 10, 1927, the war hero Captain Charles Nungesser (Pilot) and François Coli (Navigator) departed from Paris to New York to win the awards, but this pair was never heard from again. Charles Lindbergh was convinced that he would fly the Atlantic Ocean alone in a suitable aircraft and win the prize. However, he did not have enough money to produce this plane. He eventually found the money he needed from nine businessmen from St Louis.

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