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Friday, 22 January 2016

Charles Lindbergh


Charles Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902 in his grandfather’s home in Detroit, Michigan.
He was the only child of Charles August Lindbergh, a lawyer and later an U.S. congressman who opposed the entry of the U.S. into World War I and Evangeline Lodgehand, a pretty chemistry teacher.

Charles grew up on the family farm in Little Falls, Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi. He was brought up in a house of discord, his parents were incompatible and his father left his mother. when he was seven-years-old.

As a child Charles was friendless and self absorbed. He hunted, fished and had a special interest in machinery.

Charles Lindbergh and his father

Charles graduated from Little Falls Senior High School (where his mother taught) on June 5, 1918. Lindbergh also attended over a dozen other schools during his childhood and teenage years (none for more than a year or two), including the Force School and Sidwell Friends School while living in Washington D.C. with his father, and Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California, while residing there with his mother.

Charles enrolled in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in late 1920, but dropped out in the middle of his sophomore year and then headed for Lincoln, Nebraska, to begin flight training.


Lindbergh enrolled as a student at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation's flying school in Lincoln in March 1922 and flew for the first time in his life on April 9, 1922, when he took to the air as a passenger in a two-seat Lincoln Standard "Tourabout" biplane trainer piloted by Otto Timm.

Lindbergh reported 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.

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.

2nd Lt. Charles A. Lindbergh, March 1925

In October 1925, Lindbergh was hired by the Robertson Aircraft Corporation (RAC) in St. Louis to first lay out, and then serve as chief pilot for the newly designated Contract Air Mail Route #2 between St. Louis and Chicago.

Because of his to reckless flying, Lindbergh came close to being grounded. Four times he had to parachute out from crashes in his capacity as a mail pilot.

Daredevil Lindbergh" in a re-engined Standard J-1,

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.


The $25,000 Orteig Prize was designated as an award to the pilot of the first successful nonstop flight made in either direction between New York City and Paris. It was first offered by the French-born New York hotelier (Lafayette Hotel) Raymond Orteig on May 19, 1919.

Six well-known aviators had already lost their lives in pursuit of the Orteig Prize when Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field on his successful attempt in at 7.50 am on May 20, 1927.

The still boyish-looking Lindberg was a relative latecomer to the race, and his efforts were being financed only by a single $15,000 bank loan, a $1,000 donation from his employer as an Air Mail pilot, and his own modest savings. He had never been abroad before.

The fabric-covered, single-seat, single-engine high-wing monoplane Spirit of St. Louis had a specially large fuel tank built onto its nose , so that Lindbergh wouldn't be crushed in a crash. This meant that he had to sit on a wicker basket to save weight.

Lindbergh with the Spirit of St. Louis – 1927

Because of its large fuel tank, the Spirit of St Louis barely got off the ground on take off and it barely cleared the trees at the end of the runway.

The large fuel tank also made visibility difficult, so Lindbergh had to use a combination of a periscope, navigating by the stars and dead reckoning to see where he was going.

Over the next 33.5 hours, Lindbergh and the Spirit—which he referred to as "WE"—faced many challenges, including skimming over both storm clouds at 10,000 ft (3,000 m) and wave tops at as low at 10 ft (3.0 m), fighting icing and. flying blind through fog for several hours.

During his epic flight across the ocean, Lindburgh survived on a pile of home-made sandwiches and half a glass of water. He didn't drink any of the doped coffee, which he had on board to keep him awake, as at no time on his flight did he feel sleepy.

When Lindbergh landed  at Le Bourget Airport at 10:22 pm (22:22) on May 21, 1927, his first words on French soil were "well, I made it".

As he had arrived well ahead of his flight plan,Lindbergh assumed no one would be there to greet him. He was wrong, a crowd of 150,000 surged around the plane. Lindbergh was carried shoulder high to the pavilion.

The American newspapers followed his progress of his solo flight from New York to Paris. Originally he was called "The Flying Fool" but when he made it to France he was nicknamed "The Lone Eagle."

A ticker-tape parade was held for Lindbergh down 5th Avenue in New York City on June 13, 1927.

1,750 tons of ticker tape were used. Then he made a whirlwind 48-city tour in the Spirit of St Louis.

The feat made Lindbergh the most famous person in the world, the first global celebrity and the prototype of the All American hero. However, he was a reluctant hero.

Lindbergh was selected as the first Time magazine "Man of the Year" (for 1927), appearing in its cover on January 2, 1928, and remains the youngest individual (age 25) to receive the designation.

He was awarded the U.S.'s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his historic exploit.

A 1930s dance, the Lindy Hop, a forerunner of the 50s jive,was named after Lindbergh in celebration of his flight across the Atlantic.

The tenor, Vernon Dalhart, had two hits in 1927 paying tribute to him “Lindbergh (The Eagle Of The USA” and “Lucky Lindy.”

Lindbergh's public stature following this flight was such that he became an important voice on behalf of aviation activities until his death.

Following his famous solo transatlantic flight, Lindbergh worked with Longines to create a time based navigational device which could be worn on the wrist and served his exact needs while flying. The  Hour Angle watch was manufactured to his design and is still produced today.

The Hour Angle watch

Soon after Pan Am set up the world's first ever passenger service between two countries in 1928, Lindbergh joined them as a technical adviser.

In 1929, Lindbergh was named Aviation Adviser to the Aero branch of the US dept of Commerce.


Lindbergh married the bookish, shy author Anne Morrow at her parents home in Englewood, New Jersey on 27 May, 1929. Her father was Ambassador to Mexico.

Before they'd met Lindbergh had been too shy to ask out any girl. Their first date was a spin in his plane.

It was a happy marriage Lindbergh taught Anne how to fly and they did much of the exploring and charting of air-routes together.

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. PD-US, $2

The two had six children: Charles Augustus III (born 1930), Jon (1932), Land (1937), Anne (1940), Scott (1942) and Reeve (1945).

From 1957 until his death in 1974, Lindbergh had an affair with a woman 24 years his junior, the German hat maker Brigitte Hesshaimer. They had three children together: Dyrk (born 1958), Astrid (born 1960), and David (born 1967). The pair managed to keep the affair completely secret; even the children did not know the true identity of their father, whom they met sporadically when he came to visit.


Lindbergh was a lanky, good looking blue eyed blonde. He had a child like gaze even as an old man.

Until he married Anne, Lindbergh had many disgusting habits such as blowing his nose without a handkerchief.

He was quiet, solitary, painfully shy. Some called it a chilly remoteness.

In early life, Lindbergh was a cruel practical joker. He once buried kerosene into a fellow pilot’s water jug, which hospitalizing him.


20-month-old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr.  was abducted from his home on the evening of March 1, 1932, in what the press of the time came to sensationally refer to as "The Crime of the Century." Such was the public outcry even Al Capone offered a $10,000 reward for the return of baby Lindy.

On May 12, 1932 Charles jnr was found dead in a shallow grave by a truck driver five miles from his father's home.

Cole Porter originally included references to Lindbergh and his wife (they were acquaintances) in his classic song "I Get a Kick Out Of You", but when Charles jnr was kidnapped and murdered he removed the lines.
I wouldn't care 
For those nights in the air 
That the fair 
Mrs. Lindbergh went through.

For four years the Lindbergh case was a worldwide obsession. Sadly several lunatics sent abusive letters threatening the Lindbergh’s second child.

The kidnapping eventually led to the Lindbergh family being "driven into voluntary exile" in Europe, to which they sailed in secrecy from New York under assumed names in late December 1935 to get away from the public hysteria. The Lindberghs returned to the United States in April 1939.

Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a 34-year-old German immigrant carpenter, was arrested for the crime near his home in the Bronx, New York, on September 19, 1934.  Hauptmann was executed in the electric chair at the New Jersey State Prison on April 3, 1936, proclaiming his innocence to the end.

Mugshot taken of Bruno Hauptmann, taken following his arrest.


The Lindbergh lived at Highfields, a secluded house at Hopewell, near Princeton, in rural New Jersey for several years in the early 1930s.

After fleeing to Europe, the Lindberghs rented "Long Barn" in Sevenoaks Weald, Kent, England, spending three years there. In 1938, the family moved to Île Illiec, a small four-acre island Lindbergh purchased off the Breton coast of France.

Long Barn, the Lindberghs' rented home in England

When the Lindberghs finally returned to reside again in the United States in April 1939, they settled in a rented seaside estate at Lloyd Neck, Long Island, New York.

After a friend of Lindbergh's introduced him to the Hawaiian island of Maui, he and his wife Anne Morrow built a simple home tin a remote corner there.  In the beginning they spent about six to eight weeks a year in their Maui home. As time went on they visited more often and for longer periods of time.


In 1930, Lindbergh's sister-in-law developed a fatal heart condition. Lindbergh began to wonder why hearts could not be repaired with surgery. Starting in early 1931 at the Rockefeller Institute and continuing during his time living in France, Lindbergh studied the perfusion of organs outside the body with Nobel Prize-winning French surgeon Dr. Alexis Carrel.

With the help of Dr. Carrell, Lindbergh developed and made, a glass perfusion pump, named the "Model T" pump.  Lindbergh's pump was further developed by others, eventually leading to the construction of the first heart-lung machine.

A Lindbergh perfusion pump, circa 1935. By Sage Ross - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, $3

In 1938, Lindbergh and Carrel described a mechanical heart that was able to keep other organs going in their book, The Culture of Organs.


Lindbergh traveled several times to Germany at the behest of the U.S. military, to report on German aviation and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) from 1936 to 1938.

In 1938 Lindbergh unwisely accepted a Service Cross medal from the Nazi German government. On returning to the US in 1939 the conciliatory pilot resigned his military commission. From then on many Americans considered him to be an anti-Semitic as well.

Lindbergh wrote of Hitler: “Undoubtedly a great man who has done much for the German people.”

Göring presenting Lindbergh with a medal on behalf of Adolf Hitler in October 1938

Lindbergh pressed for peace in the early 1940s. He formed a "American First Committee" which said the U.S. couldn't win the war for England so it was pointless sacrificing American soldiers in it.

Charles Lindbergh's Des Moines Speech on September 11, 1941, accused the British, Jews and the Roosevelt administration of pressing for war with Germany.

Once America entered the war, Lindbergh flew as a civilian pilot in combat missions in the Pacific. By the end of the war he’d flown 50 combat missions.

While serving in the Philippines during the Second World War, Lindbergh discovered a hitherto unknown tribe, the Tasaday.


After the Second World War, Lindbergh dedicated his life to environmental concerns rescuing a number of threatened animal species including whales.

The Spirit of St. Louis, an autobiographical account by Charles Lindbergh about the events leading up to and including his 1927 solo trans-Atlantic flight, was published on September 14, 1953, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954.

Wikipedia Commons


In 1974 Lindbergh flew from a New York hospital to Hana, Maui, to spend his last days in solitude with his family. Wracked with incurable cancer, Lindbergh had planned all the details of his simple funeral. He died there on August 26, 1974.

He was buried on the grounds of the Palapala Ho'omau Church. His epitaph, which quotes Psalm 139:9, reads: “Charles A. Lindbergh Born: Michigan, 1902. Died: Maui, 1974. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea.”

Lindbergh's grave. By User Yurivict on en.wikipedia - Yurivict, CC BY-SA 3.0, $3

In the 1976 movie, The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case, Anthony Hopkins plays the abductor of Charles Lindbergh jr,, Bruno  Hauptmann, for which he won an Emmy. Cliff De Young played Lindbergh


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