Charles Lindbergh, photo by Harris & Ewing
|Born||Charles Augustus Lindbergh
February 4, 1902
Detroit, Michigan, United States
|Died||August 26, 1974
Kipahulu, Maui, Hawaii, U.S.
Cause of death
|Palapala Ho'omau Church Cemetery|
|Education||Sidwell Friends School
Redondo Union High School
Little Falls High School
University of Wisconsin-Madison (left in second year)
|Alma mater||Little Falls High School (1918)|
|Spouse(s)||Anne Morrow Lindbergh (m. 1929)|
|Children||With Anne Morrow Lindbergh:
Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr.
Land Morrow Lindbergh
Anne Spencer Lindbergh (Perrin)
Reeve Lindbergh (Brown)
With Brigitte Hesshaimer:
Astrid Hesshaimer Bouteuil
With Marietta Hesshaimer:
With Valeska (surname unknown):
a son (name unknown)
a daughter (name unknown)
|Parents||Charles August Lindbergh
Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh (February 4, 1902 – August 26, 1974), nicknamed Slim, Lucky Lindy, and The Lone Eagle, was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.
As a 25-year-old U.S. Air Mail pilot, Lindbergh emerged suddenly from virtual obscurity to instantaneous world fame as the result of his Orteig Prize-winning solo non-stop flight on May 20–21, 1927, made from Roosevelt Field[N 1] in Garden City on New York's Long Island to Le Bourget Field in Paris, France, a distance of nearly 3,600 statute miles (5,800 km), in the single-seat, single-engine purpose-built Ryan monoplane Spirit of St. Louis. As a result of this flight, Lindbergh was the first person in history to be in New York one day and Paris the next. Lindbergh, a U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve officer, was also awarded the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his historic exploit.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Lindbergh used his fame to promote the development of both commercial aviation and Air Mail services in the United States and the Americas. In March 1932, his infant son, Charles, Jr., was kidnapped and murdered in what was soon dubbed the "Crime of the Century". It was described by journalist H.L. Mencken, as "... the biggest story since the resurrection." The kidnapping eventually led to the Lindbergh family's being "driven into voluntary exile" in Europe, to which they sailed in secrecy from New York under assumed names in late December 1935 to "seek a safe, secluded residence away from the tremendous public hysteria" in America. The Lindberghs returned to the United States in April 1939.
Before the United States formally entered World War II, Lindbergh had been an outspoken advocate of keeping the U.S. out of the world conflict, as had his father, Congressman Charles August Lindbergh, during World War I. Although Lindbergh was a leader in the anti-war America First movement, he nevertheless strongly supported the war effort after Pearl Harbor and flew 50 combat missions in the Pacific Theater of World War II as a civilian consultant even though President Franklin D. Roosevelt had refused to reinstate his Army Air Corps colonel's commission that he had resigned in April 1941.
In his later years, Lindbergh became a prolific prize-winning author, international explorer, inventor and environmentalist.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Early aviation career
- 3 Air Mail pilot, pioneer, and promoter
- 4 The Orteig Prize, Spirit of St. Louis, and New York-Paris flight
- 5 Personal life
- 6 "The Crime of the Century"
- 7 Self exile in Europe (1936–1939)
- 8 Pre-war activities
- 9 Munich crisis
- 10 "America First" involvement
- 11 Thoughts on race and racism
- 12 World War II
- 13 Later life
- 14 Environmental causes
- 15 Death
- 16 Honors and tributes
- 17 In popular culture
- 18 See also
- 19 References
- 20 External links
Although born in Detroit, Michigan, on February 4, 1902, Charles Augustus Lindbergh spent most of his childhood in Little Falls, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C.. He was the third child of Swedish immigrant Charles August Lindbergh (birth name Carl Månsson) (1859–1924), and only child of his second wife, Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh (1876–1954), of Detroit although the Lindberghs separated in 1909 when their son was seven. Lindbergh's father, a U.S. Congressman (R-Minnesota (6th)) from 1907 to 1917, was one of just fifty House members to vote against (373-50) the entry of the U.S. into World War I. Mrs. Lindbergh was a chemistry teacher at Cass Technical High School in Detroit and later at Little Falls High School from which her son graduated on June 5, 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 a year or two), including the Force School and Sidwell Friends School while living in Washington with his father, and Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California while living there with his mother. Although he enrolled in the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in late 1920, Lindbergh dropped out in the middle of his sophomore year and headed for Lincoln, Nebraska, in March 1922 to begin flight training.
Early aviation career
From an early age Charles Lindbergh had exhibited an interest in the mechanics of motorized transportation, including his family's Saxon Six automobile, and later his Excelsior motorbike. By the time he started college as a mechanical engineering student he had also become fascinated with flying even though he "had never been close enough to a plane to touch it." After quitting college in February 1922, Lindbergh enrolled as a student at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation's flying school in Lincoln two months later 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.
A few days later Lindbergh took his first formal flying lesson in that same machine with instructor-pilot Ira O. Biffle although the then 20-year-old student pilot was never permitted to "solo" during his time at the school because he could not afford to post a bond which the company President Ray Page insisted upon in the event the novice flyer were to damage the school's only trainer in the process. In order to both gain some needed flight experience and earn money for additional instruction, Lindbergh left Lincoln in June to spend the next few months 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).
With the onset of winter, however, Lindbergh left flying and returned to his father's home in Minnesota. His return to the air and first solo flight would therefore not come until half a year later in May 1923 at Souther Field in Americus, Georgia, a former Army flight training field, where he had come to buy a World War I surplus Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplane. Even though Lindbergh had not touched an airplane in more than six months, he had already secretly decided that he was ready to take to the air by himself. After a half hour of dual time with a pilot who was visiting the field to pick up another surplus JN-4, Lindbergh flew solo for the first time in the Jenny that he had just purchased for $500. After spending another week or so at the field to "practice" (thereby acquiring 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 almost 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 also achieved another key aviation milestone when he made his first flight at night near Lake Village, Arkansas.
Lindbergh damaged his "Jenny" on several occasions over the summer by breaking the propeller on landing including such as on May 18, 1923 just outside Maben, Mississippi. His most serious accident came when he ran into a ditch in a farm field in Glencoe, Minnesota, on June 3, 1923, while flying his father (who was then running for the U.S. Senate) to a campaign stop. The accident grounded him for a week until he could repair his plane. Lindbergh flew his Jenny to Iowa in October where he sold it to a flying student. (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, New York, 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. There he joined up with Leon Klink and continued to barnstorm through the South for the next few months in Klink's Curtiss JN-4C "Canuck" (the Canadian version of the Jenny). Lindbergh also "cracked up" this aircraft once when his engine failed shortly after take off in Pensacola, Florida, 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 most serious flying accident on March 5, 1925, eight days before graduation. He was involved in a midair collision 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 a year earlier 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.
Lindbergh later noted 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.[N 2] With the Army not then in need of additional active duty pilots, however, immediately following graduation Lindbergh 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. He was soon promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
Air Mail pilot, pioneer, and promoter
In October 1925, Lindbergh was hired by the Robertson Aircraft Corporation (RAC) in St. Louis (where 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 RAC'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.
Coincidentally, in 1925, just before he signed on to fly with CAM, Lindbergh had applied to serve as a pilot on CDR (later RADM) Richard E. Byrd's famed North Pole expedition, but apparently his bid came too late.)
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. Twice during the ten months that he flew CAM-2, Lindbergh would be called upon to exhibit his faithfulness to that oath after temporarily losing custody and control of mails that he was transporting when he was forced to bail out of his mail plane owing to bad weather, equipment problems, and/or fuel exhaustion. In the two incidents, which both occurred while he was approaching Chicago at night, Lindbergh came down by parachute near small farming communities in northeastern Illinois. On September 16, 1926, he came down about 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Chicago near the town of Wedron, while six weeks later, on November 3, 1926, Lindbergh bailed out again about 70 miles (110 km) further south hitting the ground in another farm field west of the city of Bloomington near the town of Covell. After landing without serious injury on both occasions, Lindbergh's first concern 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 see that they were entrained or trucked on to Chicago with as little 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 U.S. Air Mail pilot, he used the immense fame that his New York to Paris flight brought him to help promote the use of the U.S. Air Mail Service. While he carried no official mail in the Spirit to Paris or during the subsequent three month, 48-state Guggenheim Tour, at the request of Capt. Basil L. Rowe, the owner and chief pilot of West Indian Aerial Express (later Pan Am's chief pilot as well) and a fellow Air Mail pioneer and advocate, in February 1928, Lindbergh carried a small amount (about 3,000 pieces) of special souvenir mail between Santo Domingo, R.D., Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Havana, Cuba in the Spirit of St. Louis. These rare Lindbergh flown "Good Will Tour" covers remain very highly prized by collectors of Air Mail postal history especially as many of the Port-au-Prince to Havana covers were later destroyed during a hurricane that struck Havana in 1931. Those cities were the last three stops that he and the Spirit made during their 7,800-mile (12,600 km) "Good Will Tour" of Latin America and the Caribbean between December 13, 1927, and February 8, 1928. 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 after completing his Latin American tour, Lindbergh "returned" to flying CAM-2 for two days so that he could pilot a series of special flights over his old route on February 20 (northbound) and February 21 (southbound). Known as "Horseshoe Mail" because each piece received a rubber stamp cachet of a large horseshoe with the legend "LINDBERGH AGAIN FLIES THE AIR MAIL" and "CHICAGO ST. LOUIS C.A.M. 2", there was such huge demand for covers carried on these flights that three mailplanes were used to fly it between St. Louis to Chicago that were flown by Lindbergh and fellow CAM-2 pilots Thomas Nelson, Philip Love, Bud Gurney, E.L. Sloniger and L.H. Smith. At each stop on the route Lindbergh switched planes so it could be said that he flew each one of the tens of thousands of self-addressed souvenir covers sent in from all over the nation and the world. After being flown the covers were backstamped and returned to their senders as a further means to promote awareness and the use of the Air Mail Service.
In 1929–31 Lindbergh carried much smaller numbers of souvenir covers on the first flights over routes in Latin America and the Caribbean which he had earlier laid out as a consultant to Pan American Airways to be then flown under contract to the Post Office Department as Foreign Air Mail (FAM) routes 5 and 6. These covers and other artifacts associated with or carried on flights piloted by Lindbergh are still actively collected under the general designation of "Lindberghiana."
The Orteig Prize, Spirit of St. Louis, and New York-Paris flight
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. The one exception among these competitors, however, was the still boyish looking Lindbergh. A 25-year-old relative latecomer to the race, in relation to the others Lindbergh was also virtually anonymous as an aviation figure. He not only had considerably less overall flying experience (and none over water) than the others, Lindbergh's 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.
The first of the well-known challengers to attempt a flight was famed World War I French flying ace René Fonck. On September 21, 1926, he attempted to fly eastbound from Roosevelt Airfield in New York in a three-engine Sikorsky S-35 but never got off the ground as his grossly overloaded (by 10,000 lbs) transport biplane crashed and burned on takeoff when its landing gear collapsed. Unlike the later weight-conscious Lindbergh, Fonck wanted to arrive in Paris in sumptuous style and carried a sofa and refrigerator in his Sikorsky. 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, Virginia, 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 seaplane The White Bird (L'Oiseau Blanc). Contact was lost with them after crossing the coast of Ireland, however, and they were never seen nor heard from again.
American air racer Clarence D. Chamberlin and Arctic explorer Richard Byrd were also in the race. Although he did not win, Chamberlin and his passenger, Charles A. Levine, made the far less well remembered second successful nonstop single-pilot flight of a heavier-than-air aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean in the single engine Wright-Bellanca WB-2 Miss Columbia (N-X-237), leaving Roosevelt Field on June 4, 1927, two weeks after Lindbergh's flight and landing in Eisleben, Germany 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 manufacturer insisted on selecting the pilot. Byrd followed suit in the Fokker F.VII tri-motor, 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 because of poor weather and was forced to return to the Normandy coast where he ditched the tri-motor high-wing monoplane in the surf near the French village of Ver-sur-Mer.
Acquiring the Spirit of St. Louis
As an otherwise unknown young Contract Air Mail pilot, acquiring financing to buy a plane and meet the other expenses related to the overall New York to Paris effort had been a major challenge for Lindbergh who began with only $2,000 of his own money from his savings and his $175 bi-weekly salary earned flying the U.S. Air Mail for RAC. Eventually he was able to secure local funding for the purchase of the Spirit, however, by way of 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 backers and trustees.[N 3] Another $1,000 was donated by Frank Robertson of RAC on the same day giving Lindbergh and his backers a relatively modest $18,000 with which to compete against his much more highly funded rivals for the $25,000 Orteig Prize.
The group tried but was unable to purchase a suitable existing design single or multi-engine monoplane from Wright Aeronautical (Wright-Bellanca) of Paterson, New Jersey, Travel Air of Wichita, Kansas, and finally Charles Levine's and Giuseppi Bellanca's newly formed Columbia Aircraft Corporation of Hempstead, New York unless Lindbergh and his backers would agree to allow the manufacturer to select the pilot. The group thus turned to B.F. Mahoney's much smaller Ryan Aircraft Company in San Diego which agreed to design and build such a monoplane "from the ground up" for $10,580, and on February 25 a deal was formally struck. Dubbed the Spirit of St. Louis, the fabric covered, single-seat, single-engine "Ryan NYP" high-wing monoplane (CAB registration: N-X-211) was designed jointly by Lindbergh and the Ryan Company's chief engineer, Donald A. Hall. The Spirit flew for the first time just two months later on April 28, 1927, and after completing a series of test flights, Lindbergh took off from San Diego on May 10 for St. Louis and on to Roosevelt Field on New York's Long Island from which he would take off for Paris just ten days later.
May 20–21, 1927: Lindbergh's New York to Paris flight
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 the early morning of Friday, May 20, 1927. Burdened by its heavy load of 450 U.S. gallons (1,704 liters) of gasoline weighing approximately 2,710 lbs (1,230 kg), 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 (07:52) takeoff run, 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 [six meters] with a fair reserve of flying speed". Over the next 33.5 hours he and the "Spirit"—which Lindbergh always jointly referred to 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 (whenever visible), and dead reckoning before landing at Le Bourget Airport at 10:22 PM (22:22) on Saturday, May 21. The airfield was not marked on his map and Lindbergh knew only that it was some seven miles northeast of the city. He initially mistook the airfield for some large industrial complex with bright lights spreading out in all directions. The lights were, in fact, the headlights of tens of thousands of cars all driven by eager spectators now caught in "the largest traffic jam in Parisian history."
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 fine linen silver painted 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 fliers, soldiers, and police who took them both to safety in a nearby hangar. From that moment on, life would never again be the same for the previously little known former U.S. Air Mail pilot who, by his successful flight, had achieved virtually instantaneous—and lifelong—world fame.
The records set by Lindbergh's flight were officially certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) (the World Air Sports Federation). On August 31, 1927, the flight was "certified as the Class-C World Record for non-stop flight" for the distance of 5,809 kilometres (3,137 nautical miles; 3,610 miles).
While Lindbergh was the first to fly nonstop from New York to Paris, he was not the first aviator to complete a transatlantic flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft. That had been done first in stages between May 8 and 30, 1919, by the crew of the Navy-Curtiss NC-4 flying boat which took 24 days to complete its journey from Jamaica Bay at Far Rockaway, Queens, New York, to Plymouth, England, via Halifax, Nova Scotia, Trepassey Bay (Newfoundland), Horta (Azores), and Lisbon, Portugal.
The world's first non-stop transatlantic flight (albeit over a route far shorter than Lindbergh's, 1,890 miles (3,040 km) vs. 3,600 statute miles (5,800 km)) was achieved on June 14–15, 1919, by two British aviators, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown, in a modified Vickers Vimy IV bomber from Lester's Field near St. John's, Newfoundland on June 14 and arrived at Clifden, Ireland, the following day. Both men were knighted at Buckingham Palace by King George V, in recognition of their pioneering achievement.
The lighter-than-air U.S. Navy airship USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) made a non-stop delivery flight crossing from the Zeppelin Company works in Friedrichshafen, Germany to the U.S. Naval Air Station at Lakehurst, New Jersey from October 12 to 15, 1924.
Immediate aftermath of the flight
The French Foreign Office flew the American flag, the first time it had saluted someone not a head of state. Lindbergh also made a series of brief flights in Europe to Belgium and Great Britain in the quickly recovered Spirit (portions of its linen skin had been torn from it by souvenir hunters at Le Bourget) before returning to the United States. 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 the Washington Navy Yard on the Anacostia River in SE Washington, D.C. where President Calvin Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross. On the same day that Lindbergh and the Spirit arrived in Washington, 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.
On June 13, 1927, a ticker-tape parade was held for him down 5th Avenue in New York City. The following night Capt. Lindbergh was honored with a grand banquet at the Hotel Commodore given by the Mayor's Committee on Receptions of the City of New York and attended by some 3,700 people. He was officially awarded the check for the prize on June 16. The massive publicity surrounding him and his flight boosted the aviation industry and made a skeptical public take air travel seriously as Lindbergh became an important voice on behalf of aviation activities, including the central committee of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), an appointment made by President Herbert Hoover. Within a year of his flight, a quarter of Americans (an estimated thirty million) personally saw Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis. Over the remainder of 1927 applications for pilot's licenses in the U.S. tripled, the number of licensed aircraft quadrupled, and U.S. Airline passengers grew between 1926 and 1929 by 3,000% from 5,782 to 173,405. Lindbergh later charted both polar and South American air routes, developed techniques for high altitude flying, and during World War II demonstrated how to increase flying range by developing techniques of refining flight attitudes and leaning fuel mixture to decrease the rate of gasoline consumption and improving efficiency.
On December 14, 1927 as Special Act of Congress awarded Lindbergh the Medal of Honor despite the fact that it was almost always awarded for heroism in combat. It was presented to Lindbergh by President Coolidge at the White House on March 21, 1928. Other non-combat awards of the Medal of Honor were made to aviators Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett as well as arctic explorer Adolphus W. Greely.
After his transatlantic flight, Lindbergh wrote a letter to the director of Longines, describing in detail a watch that would make navigation easier for pilots. The watch was manufactured to his design and is still produced today.
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 also appeared on TIME's cover on June 13, 1938 (with Dr. Alexis Carrel) and June 19, 1939, and his kidnapped infant son, Charles Jr, was on the cover on May 2, 1932.
The winner of the 1930 Best Woman Aviator of the Year Award, Elinor Smith Sullivan, said that before Lindbergh's flight, "people seemed to think we [aviators] were from outer space or something. But after Charles Lindbergh's flight, we could do no wrong. It's hard to describe the impact Lindbergh had on people. Even the first walk on the moon doesn't come close. The twenties was such an innocent time, and people were still so religious—I think they felt like this man was sent by God to do this. And it changed aviation forever because all of a sudden the Wall Streeters were banging on doors looking for airplanes to invest in. We'd been standing on our heads trying to get them to notice us but after Lindbergh, suddenly everyone wanted to fly, and there weren't enough planes to carry them."
"WE", the US and Latin American "Tours", and the Spirit retires
Less than two months after Lindbergh had completed his historic flight his first book, "WE", was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons[N 4] in July 1927 as an "instant" autobiography of the suddenly world famous young aviator. As stated on its cover, Lindbergh wrote the book to provide the public with his "own story of his life and his transatlantic flight together with his views on the future of aviation". A first manuscript was originally ghostwritten by The New York Times reporter Carlyle MacDonald who had interviewed Lindbergh extensively both in Paris as well as during the nine-day crossing from Cherbourg to Washington on the USS Memphis, but Lindbergh was so dissatisfied with its "fawning tone" that he completely rewrote it himself "painstakingly in longhand" over a period of three weeks in late June and early July at Falaise, the Daniel Guggenheim mansion at Sands Point on Long Island. As explained in the dust jacket notes of the first edition, the book's simple one-word "flying pronoun" title "WE" referred to Lindbergh's view of a deep "spiritual" partnership that had developed "between himself and his airplane during the dark hours of his flight."
The book, which was also soon translated into most major languages, remained at the top of best seller lists well into 1928 with more than 650,000 copies sold in the first year and earned Lindbergh more than $250,000. The book’s great commercial success was considerably aided by its publication coinciding with the start of his three-month tour of the United States in the Spirit on behalf of the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics. The nation became obsessed with Lindbergh during the tour in which he was seen in person by more than thirty million Americans, a quarter of the nation's then population. No other author before or since ever had such an extensive, highly publicized tour that helped promote a book than did Lindbergh's "We" of himself and the Spirit during their 22,350-mile, July 20 to October 23, 1927 tour of the US visiting 82 cities in all 48 states during which the nation's nascent aviation superhero delivered 147 speeches and rode 1,290 miles (2,080 km) in parades.[N 5]
Prior to retiring the Spirit, Lindbergh made a second tour to 16 Latin America countries from December 13, 1927 and February 8, 1928. Dubbed the "Good Will Tour", it included stops in México (where he also met his future wife, Anne, the daughter of US Ambassador Dwight Morrow), Guatemala, British Honduras, Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, the Canal Zone, Colombia, Venezuela, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba covering 9,390 miles in 116:30 of flight time. A year and two days after it had made its first flight Lindbergh flew the Spirit from St. Louis to Bolling Field in Washington, D.C. and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution where it has remained on public display ever since. Over the previous 367 days Lindbergh and the Spirit had logged 489:28 of flight time together while making 174 flights to all 48 states and 19 foreign countries.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906–2001) was the daughter of Dwight Morrow who, as partner at J.P. Morgan & Co., had acted as financial adviser to Lindbergh and who had been appointed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in 1927. Lindbergh was invited by Morrow on a goodwill tour to Mexico, and he met Anne in Mexico City in December 1927.
The couple were married on May 27, 1929, and had six children: Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. (1930–1932); Jon Morrow Lindbergh (b. August 16, 1932); Land Morrow Lindbergh (b. 1937), who studied anthropology at Stanford University and married Susan Miller in San Diego; Anne Lindbergh (1940–1993); Scott Lindbergh (b. 1942); and Reeve Lindbergh (b. 1945), a writer. Lindbergh also taught his wife how to fly and did much of his exploring and charting of air routes with her.
Lindbergh saw his children for only a couple of months a year. He kept track of each child’s infractions, which included such activities as gum-chewing. He insisted that Anne track all her household expenditures, including even 15 cents spent for rubber bands, in account books.
According to a Biography Channel profile on Lindbergh, she was the only woman who he had ever asked out on a date. In Lindbergh's autobiography, he derides womanizing pilots he met as "barnstormers," and Army cadets for their "facile" approach to relationships. Lindbergh wrote that the ideal romance was stable and long term, with a woman with keen intellect, good health, and strong genes. Lindbergh said his "experience in breeding animals on our farm had taught me the importance of good heredity."
Twenty-nine years after Lindbergh's 1974 death, the largest national daily newspaper in Germany, Munich's Suddeutsche Zeitung, reported in late July 2003 that he had fathered three out-of-wedlock children by German hat maker Brigitte Hesshaimer (1926–2003) who had lived in the small Bavarian town of Geretsried just south of Munich. By the time of the publication of German biographer Rudolf Schröck's book Das Doppelleben des Charles A. Lindbergh (The Double Life of Charles A. Lindbergh) two years later, however, it had been further revealed that Lindbergh had also fathered four other out-of-wedlock children in Germany and Switzerland with two other mistresses. Beginning in March 1957 Lindbergh had established romantic relationships with Brigitte Hesshaimer, her sister, Mariette, a painter living in Grimisuat in the Swiss canton Valais with whom he had two children, and with Valeska, an East Prussian aristocrat who was his private secretary in Europe and lived in Baden-Baden with whom he had two more children, a son born in 1959 and a daughter in 1961. All seven children had been born between 1958 and 1967.
Ten days before he died on August 26, 1974, Lindbergh wrote letters from his New York hospital bed to each of his three European mistresses imploring them to maintain the "utmost secrecy" about their relationships after his death. The three women (none of whom ever married) all managed to keep their affairs secret even from their children who during his lifetime (and for almost a decade after) did not know the true identity of their father whom they had only known by the alias "Careu Kent" and seen only when he visited for a few days once or twice per year. However after finding and reading a magazine article about Lindbergh in the mid-1980s, Brigitte's daughter Astrid learned her father's true identity and later discovered snapshots and more than 150 love letters written to her mother by Lindbergh between 1957 and 1974. After both Brigitte and Anne Morrow Lindbergh had both died, Astrid finally publicly disclosed who her brothers and her father were. On November 23, 2003, DNA tests confirmed that Lindbergh had fathered Dyrk, Astrid and David, Brigitte's three children.
In April 2008, Reeve Lindbergh, his youngest child with his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh, published Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age and Other Unexpected Adventures, a book of essays that includes her learning in late July 2003 the truth about her father's secret European families and writing in her personal journal on August 8, 2003 that "This story reflects absolutely Byzantine layers of deception on the part of our shared father. These children did not even know who he was! He used a pseudonym with them (To protect them, perhaps? To protect himself, absolutely!)" A year later she traveled to Europe to meet all seven of her half siblings and understand an expanded meaning of family.
"The Crime of the Century"
In what came to be referred to sensationally by the press of the time as "The Crime of the Century", on the evening of March 1, 1932, 20-month-old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was abducted by an intruder from his crib in the second-story nursery of his family's rural home in East Amwell, New Jersey near the town of Hopewell.[N 6] While a 10-week nationwide search for the child was being undertaken, ransom negotiations were also conducted simultaneously with a self-identified kidnapper by a volunteer intermediary, Dr. John F. Condon (aka "Jafsie"). These resulted in the payment on April 2 of $50,000 in cash, part of which was made in soon-to-be withdrawn (and thus more easily traceable) Gold certificates the serial numbers of which had been recorded, in exchange for information about the child's whereabouts that proved to be false. The child's remains were found by chance by a passing truckdriver six weeks later on May 12 in roadside woodlands near Mount Rose, New Jersey.
In response to the highly publicized crime, Congress passed the so-called "Lindbergh Law" on June 13, which made kidnapping a federal offense under certain circumstances. Known formally as the "Federal Kidnapping Act of 1932" (18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)), the new statute provided for federal jurisdiction over all future kidnappings in which any victim(s) were taken across state lines and/or (as had occurred in the Lindbergh case) the kidnapper(s) used "the mail or any means, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in committing or in furtherance of the commission of the offense", including as a means to demand a ransom.
The assiduous tracing of the serial numbers of $10 and $20 Gold certificates passed in the New York City area over the next year and a half eventually led police to Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a 34-year-old German immigrant carpenter, who was arrested near his home in The Bronx, New York, on September 19, 1934. (Hauptmann was identified by the license plate number of his automobile, which a gas station attendant had written on the bill after receiving it from him in payment for services.) A stash containing $13,760 of the ransom money was subsequently found hidden in his garage. Charged with kidnapping, extortion, and first-degree murder, Hauptmann went on trial in a circus-like atmosphere in Flemington, New Jersey, on January 2, 1935. Six weeks later he was convicted on all counts when, following 11 hours of deliberation, the jury delivered its verdict late on the night of February 13, after which trial judge Thomas Trenchard immediately sentenced Hauptmann to death. Although he continued to adamantly maintain his innocence, all of Hauptmann's appeals and petitions for clemency were rejected by early December 1935. Despite a last-minute attempt by New Jersey Governor Harold G. Hoffman (who believed Hauptmann was guilty but had always expressed doubts that he could have acted alone) to convince him to confess to the crimes in exchange for getting his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, the by then 36-year-old Hauptmann refused and was electrocuted at Trenton State Prison on April 3, 1936.
Self exile in Europe (1936–1939)
An intensely private man when it came to his family life, Charles Lindbergh became exasperated by the unrelenting press and public attention focused on them in the wake of the kidnapping and Hauptmann trial. Particularly concerned for the physical safety of their then three-year-old second son, Jon, by late 1935 the Lindberghs came secretly to the decision to go into voluntary exile in Europe. Consequently in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, December 22, 1935, the family "sailed furtively" from Pier 60 (West 20th St, Manhattan) for Liverpool, England, as the only three passengers on board the United States Lines freighter SS American Importer. To help maintain the strict secrecy Lindbergh insisted upon for their departure, the family traveled under assumed names and using diplomatic passports that had been issued a week earlier through the personal intervention of Treasury Secretary Ogden Mills.
News of the Lindberghs' "flight to Europe" did not become public until a full day later by way of an exclusive front-page story by The New York Times aviation editor Lauren "Deac" Lyman, a longtime family friend, supporter, and confidant, published in the paper's final Monday morning edition. At Lindbergh's request, however, Lyman intentionally withheld the identity of the ship as well as its time and port of departure from that initial account. While Lyman finally revealed the information in his follow-up story published the next day when the ship was already two days out to sea, radiograms sent to Lindbergh on the American Importer were nevertheless all returned with the notation "Addressee not aboard."
Although Lindbergh had "offered no public explanation" for the family's unannounced departure, shortly before they sailed he had told Lyman in a private interview: "We Americans are a primitive people. We do not have discipline. Our moral standards are low. It shows up in the private lives of people we know — their drinking and 'behavior with women.' It shows in the newspapers, the morbid curiosity over crimes and murder trials. Americans seem to have little respect for law, or the rights of others." For those reasons, Lindbergh told Lyman, he had decided to take his family to England to "seek a safe, secluded residence away from the tremendous public hysteria" that surrounded him in America. The Lindberghs arrived in Liverpool on December 31, 1935, where they secluded themselves before later departing for South Wales to stay with relatives.
The family eventually rented "Long Barn" in Sevenoaks Weald, Kent, England. One newspaper wrote that Lindbergh "won immediate popularity by announcing he intended to purchase his supplies 'right in the village, from local tradesmen.' The reserve of the villagers, most of whom had decided in advance he would be a blustering, boastful young American, is melting." At the time of Hauptmann's execution, local police almost sealed off the area surrounding Long Barn with "orders to regard as suspects anyone except residents who approached within a mile of the home." Lindbergh later described his three years in the Kent village as "among the happiest days of my life." In 1938, the family moved to Île Illiec, a small four-acre island Lindbergh purchased off the Breton coast of France.
Although Charles and Anne Lindbergh had made a brief unannounced holiday visit to the US in December 1937, the family (including a second son, Land, born in London in May 1937) continued to live and travel extensively in Europe for more than three years before finally returning to reside again in the United States in April 1939, settling in a rented seaside estate at Lloyd Neck, Long Island, New York. The timing of the family's return came primarily as the result of a personal request by General H. H. ("Hap") Arnold, the chief of the United States Army Air Corps in which Lindbergh was a colonel in the reserves, for him to accept a temporary call up to active duty in order to help evaluate that service's readiness for a potential war. His duties included evaluating new aircraft types in development, recruitment procedures, and finding a site for a new air force research institute and other potential air bases. Assigned a Curtiss P-36 fighter, he toured various facilities, reporting back to Wright Field. Lindbergh's brief four-month tour was also his first period of active military service since his graduation from the Army's Flight School 14 years earlier in 1925.
In 1929, Lindbergh became interested in the work of rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard. By helping Goddard secure an endowment from Daniel Guggenheim in 1930, Lindbergh allowed Goddard to expand his research and development. Throughout his life, Lindbergh remained a key advocate of Goddard's work.
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. Although perfused organs were said to have survived surprisingly well, all showed progressive degenerative changes within a few days. Lindbergh's invention, a glass perfusion pump, named the "Model T" pump, is credited with making future heart surgeries possible. In this early stage, the pump was far from perfected. In 1938, Lindbergh and Carrel described an artificial heart in the book in which they summarized their work, The Culture of Organs, but it was decades before one was built. In later years, Lindbergh's pump was further developed by others, eventually leading to the construction of the first heart-lung machine.
Lindbergh toured German aviation facilities, where the commander of the Luftwaffe, SA-Gruppenführer Hermann Göring convinced Lindbergh the Luftwaffe was far more powerful than it was. With the approval of Göring and Ernst Udet, Lindbergh was the first American permitted to examine the Luftwaffe's newest bomber, the Junkers Ju 88, and Germany's front-line fighter aircraft, the Messerschmitt Bf 109. Lindbergh received the unprecedented opportunity to pilot the Bf 109. Lindbergh said of the fighter that he knew "of no other pursuit plane which combines simplicity of construction with such excellent performance characteristics." Colonel Lindbergh inspected all the types of military aircraft Germany was to use in 1939 and 1940.
Lindbergh reported to the U.S. military that Germany was leading in metal construction, low-wing designs, dirigibles and diesel engines. Lindbergh also undertook a survey of aviation in the Soviet Union in 1938, and his findings were included in air intelligence reports long before the outbreak of World War II. The American ambassador to Germany, Hugh Wilson, invited Lindbergh to dinner with Göring at the American embassy in Berlin in 1938. The dinner included diplomats and three of the greatest minds of German aviation, Ernst Heinkel, Adolf Baeumker and Dr. Willy Messerschmitt. For Lindbergh's 1927 flight and services to aviation, on behalf of Adolf Hitler, Göring presented him with the Commander Cross of the Order of the German Eagle. (Henry Ford received the same award earlier in July.) Lindbergh's acceptance of the medal caused controversy after Kristallnacht, an anti-Jewish pogrom that broke out in Germany a few weeks later. Lindbergh declined to return the medal, later writing (according to A. Scott Berg): "It seems to me that the returning of decorations, which were given in times of peace and as a gesture of friendship, can have no constructive effect. If I were to return the German medal, it seems to me that it would be an unnecessary insult. Even if war develops between us, I can see no gain in indulging in a spitting contest before that war begins."
At the urging of U.S. Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, Lindbergh wrote a secret memo to the British warning that if Britain and France responded militarily to German dictator Adolf Hitler's violation of the Munich Agreement in 1938, it would be suicide. Lindbergh stated that France's military strength was inadequate and that Britain had an outdated military overly-reliant upon naval power. He recommended they urgently strengthen their air arsenal in order to force Hitler to turn his ambitions eastward to a war against "Asiatic Communism."
In a controversial 1939 Reader's Digest article, Lindbergh said, "Our civilization depends on peace among Western nations ... and therefore on united strength, for Peace is a virgin who dare not show her face without Strength, her father, for protection." Lindbergh deplored the rivalry between Germany and Britain but favored a war between Germany and Russia. There is some controversy as to how accurate his reports concerning the Luftwaffe were, but Cole reports the consensus among British and American officials was that they were slightly exaggerated but badly needed.
"America First" involvement
In late 1940, he became spokesman of the antiwar America First Committee. He soon became its most prominent public spokesman, speaking to overflowing crowds in Madison Square Garden in New York City and Soldier Field in Chicago. His speeches were heard by millions. During this time, Lindbergh lived in Lloyd Neck, on Long Island, New York.
Lindbergh argued that America did not have any business attacking Germany and believed in upholding the Monroe Doctrine, which his interventionist rivals felt was outdated. In his autobiography he wrote:
|“||I was deeply concerned that the potentially gigantic power of America, guided by uninformed and impractical idealism, might crusade into Europe to destroy Hitler without realizing that Hitler's destruction would lay Europe open to the rape, loot and barbarism of Soviet Russia's forces, causing possibly the fatal wounding of western civilization.||”|
In his January 23, 1941, testimony in opposition to the Lend-Lease Bill before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Lindbergh proposed that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Germany. President Roosevelt publicly criticized Lindbergh's views on neutrality three months later during a White House press conference on April 25, 1941, as being those of a "defeatist and appeaser" and compared him to U.S. Rep. Clement L. Vallandigham (D-OH), the leader of the "Copperhead" movement that had opposed the American Civil War. Three days later Lindbergh resigned his commission as a colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps in an April 28 letter to the President in which he said that he could find "no honorable alternative" to his taking such an action after Roosevelt had publicly questioned his loyalty.
In a speech at an America First rally at the Des Moines Coliseum on September 11, 1941, "Who Are the War Agitators?", Lindbergh claimed the three groups, "pressing this country toward war [are] the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt Administration" and said of Jewish groups,
|“||Instead of agitating for war, the Jewish groups in this country should be opposing it in every possible way for they will be among the first to feel its consequences. Tolerance is a virtue that depends upon peace and strength. History shows that it cannot survive war and devastation.||”|
In the speech, he warned of the Jewish people's "large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government". He went on to condemn Nazi Germany's antisemitism: "No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany." Lindbergh declared,
|“||I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war. We cannot blame them for looking out for what they believe to be their own interests, but we also must look out for ours. We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other peoples to lead our country to destruction.||”|
The speech was heavily criticized as being anti-Semitic. In response Lindbergh stated again he was not anti-Semitic, but he did not back away from his statements.
Lindbergh's wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh had concerns about the reaction to the speech and how it would affect his reputation, wrongfully in her view. From her diary:
|“||... I have the greatest faith in [Lindbergh] as a person — in his integrity, his courage, and his essential goodness, fairness, and kindness — his nobility really ... How then explain my profound feeling of grief about what he is doing? If what he said is the truth (and I am inclined to think it is), why was it wrong to state it? He was naming the groups that were pro-war. No one minds his naming the British or the Administration. But to name "Jew" is un-American — even if it is done without hate or even criticism. Why?||”|
Interventionists created pamphlets pointing out his efforts were praised in Nazi Germany and included quotations such as "Racial strength is vital; politics, a luxury". They included pictures of him and other America Firsters using the stiff-armed Bellamy salute (a hand gesture described by Francis Bellamy to accompany his Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag); the photos were taken from an angle not showing the flag, so to observers it was indistinguishable from the Hitler salute.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt disliked Lindbergh's outspoken opposition to intervention and his administration's policies, such as the Lend-Lease Act, and said to Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau in May 1940, "if I should die tomorrow, I want you to know this, I am absolutely convinced Lindbergh is a Nazi." On April 26, 1941 Roosevelt wrote to Secretary or War Henry Stimson that: "When I read Lindbergh’s speech I felt that it could not have been better put if it had been written by [Nazi propaganda minister Joseph] Goebbels himself. What a pity that this youngster has completely abandoned his belief in our form of government and has accepted Nazi methods because apparently they are efficient.”
Thoughts on race and racism
Lindbergh elucidated his beliefs about the white race in an article he published in Reader's Digest in 1939:
We can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races.
Lindbergh's reaction to Kristallnacht was entrusted to his diary: "I do not understand these riots on the part of the Germans," he wrote. "It seems so contrary to their sense of order and intelligence. They have undoubtedly had a difficult 'Jewish problem,' but why is it necessary to handle it so unreasonably?" Lindbergh had planned to move to Berlin for the winter of 1938–39, after Kristallnacht, a time when many Americans reacted with revulsion at Nazi barbarism. He had provisionally found a house in Wannsee, but after Nazi friends discouraged him from leasing it because it had been formerly owned by Jews, it was recommended that he contact Albert Speer who said he would build the Lindberghs a house anywhere they wanted. On the advice of his close friend the eugenicist Alexis Carrel, he cancelled the trip.
In his diaries, he wrote: "We must limit to a reasonable amount the Jewish influence ... Whenever the Jewish percentage of total population becomes too high, a reaction seems to invariably occur. It is too bad because a few Jews of the right type are, I believe, an asset to any country."
Although Lindbergh considered Hitler a fanatic and avowed a belief in American democracy, he clearly stated elsewhere that he believed the survival of the white race was more important than the survival of democracy in Europe: "Our bond with Europe is one of race and not of political ideology," he declared. Critics have noticed an apparent influence of German philosopher Oswald Spengler on Lindbergh. Spengler was a conservative authoritarian and during the interwar era, was widely read throughout Western World, though by this point he had fallen out of favor with the Nazis because he had not wholly subscribed to their theories of racial purity.
Lindbergh developed a long-term friendship with the automobile pioneer Henry Ford, who was well known for his anti-Semitic newspaper The Dearborn Independent. In a famous comment about Lindbergh to Detroit's former FBI field office special agent in charge in July 1940, Ford said: "When Charles comes out here, we only talk about the Jews."
Lindbergh considered Russia to be a "semi-Asiatic" country compared to Germany, and he found Communism to be an ideology that would destroy the West's "racial strength" and replace everyone of European descent with "a pressing sea of Yellow, Black, and Brown." He stated that if he had to choose, he would rather see America allied with Nazi Germany than Soviet Russia. He preferred Nordics, but he believed, after Soviet Communism was defeated, Russia would be a valuable ally against potential aggression from East Asia.
Lindbergh said certain races have "demonstrated superior ability in the design, manufacture, and operation of machines." He further said, "The growth of our western civilization has been closely related to this superiority." Lindbergh admired "the German genius for science and organization, the English genius for government and commerce, the French genius for living and the understanding of life." He believed that "in America they can be blended to form the greatest genius of all." His message was popular throughout many Northern communities and especially well received in the Midwest, while the American South was Anglophilic and supported a pro-British foreign policy. The South was the most pro-British and interventionist part of the country.
Holocaust researcher and investigative journalist Max Wallace in his book, The American Axis, agreed with Franklin Roosevelt's assessment that Lindbergh was "pro-Nazi." Wallace finds the Roosevelt Administration's accusations of dual loyalty or treason as unsubstantiated. Wallace considers Lindbergh a well-intentioned, but bigoted and misguided, Nazi sympathizer whose career as the leader of the isolationist movement had a destructive impact on Jewish people.
Lindbergh's Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, A. Scott Berg, contends Lindbergh was not so much a supporter of the Nazi regime as someone so stubborn in his convictions and relatively inexperienced in political maneuvering that he easily allowed rivals to portray him as one. Lindbergh's receipt of the German medal was approved without objection by the American embassy; the war had not yet begun in Europe. The award did not cause controversy until the war began and Lindbergh returned to the United States in 1939 to spread his message of non-intervention. Berg contends Lindbergh's views were commonplace in the United States in the pre–World War II era. Lindbergh's support for the America First Committee was representative of the sentiments of a number of American people.
Yet Berg also notes that "As late as April 1939 – after Germany overtook Czechoslovakia – Lindbergh was willing to make excuses for Hitler. 'Much as I disapprove of many things Hitler had done,' he wrote in his diary on April 2, 1939, 'I believe she [Germany] has pursued the only consistent policy in Europe in recent years. I cannot support her broken promises, but she has only moved a little faster than other nations ... in breaking promises. The question of right and wrong is one thing by law and another thing by history.'" Berg also explains that leading up to the war, in Lindbergh's mind, the great battle would be between the Soviet Union and Germany, not fascism and democracy.
Wallace noted that it was difficult to find social scientists among Lindbergh's contemporaries in the 1930s who found validity in racial explanations for human behavior. Wallace went on to observe that "throughout his life, eugenics would remain one of Lindbergh's enduring passions." In Pat Buchanan's book A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America's Destiny, he portrays Lindbergh and other pre-war isolationists as American patriots who were smeared by interventionists during the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Buchanan suggests the backlash against Lindbergh highlights "the explosiveness of mixing ethnic politics with foreign policy."
Lindbergh always preached military strength and alertness. He believed that a strong defensive war machine would make America an impenetrable fortress and defend the Western Hemisphere from an attack by foreign powers, and that this was the U.S. military's sole purpose.
Berg reveals that while the attack on Pearl Harbor came as a shock to Lindbergh, he did predict that America's "wavering policy in the Philippines" would invite a bloody war there, and, in one speech, he warned that "we should either fortify these islands adequately, or get out of them entirely."
World War II
Unable to take on an active military role, Lindbergh approached a number of aviation companies, offering his services as a consultant. As a technical adviser with Ford in 1942, he was heavily involved in troubleshooting early problems encountered at the Willow Run Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber production line. As B-24 production smoothed out, he joined United Aircraft in 1943 as an engineering consultant, devoting most of his time to its Chance-Vought Division.
The following year, Lindbergh persuaded United Aircraft to designate him a technical representative in the Pacific Theater to study aircraft performances under combat conditions. Among other things, he showed Marine pilots how to safely take off with a bomb load double that for which the Vought F4U Corsair fighter-bomber was rated. At the time, several Marine squadrons were flying bomber escorts to destroy the Japanese stronghold of Rabaul. On May 21, 1944, Lindbergh flew his first combat mission: a strafing run with VMF-222 near the Japanese garrison of Rabaul, New Britain, in the Australian Territory of New Guinea. He also flew with VMF-216, from the Marine Air Base at Torokina, Bougainville. Lindbergh was escorted on one of these missions by Lt. Robert E. (Lefty) McDonough, who refused to fly with Lindbergh again, as he did not want to be known as "the guy who killed Lindbergh."
In his six months in the Pacific in 1944, Lindbergh took part in fighter bomber raids on Japanese positions, flying 50 combat missions (again as a civilian). His innovations in the use of Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighters impressed a supportive Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Lindbergh introduced engine-leaning techniques to P-38 pilots, greatly improving fuel consumption at cruise speeds, enabling the long-range fighter aircraft to fly longer range missions. The U.S. Marine and Army Air Force pilots who served with Lindbergh praised his courage and defended his patriotism.
On July 28, 1944, during a P-38 bomber escort mission with the 433rd Fighter Squadron, 475th Fighter Group, Fifth Air Force, in the Ceram area, Lindbergh shot down a Sonia observation plane piloted by Captain Saburo Shimada, Commanding Officer of the 73rd Independent Chutai.
After World War II, Lindbergh lived in Darien, Connecticut and served as a consultant to the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force and to Pan American World Airways. With most of Eastern Europe having fallen under Communist control, Lindbergh believed most of his pre-war assessments were correct all along. But Berg reports after witnessing the defeat of Germany and the Holocaust firsthand shortly after his service in the Pacific, "he knew the American public no longer gave a hoot about his opinions." In 1954 President Dwight D. Eisenhower restored Lindbergh's assignment with the U.S. Air Force and made him a Brigadier General. In that year, he served on the Congressional advisory panel set up to establish the site of the United States Air Force Academy.
In December 1968, he visited the crew of Apollo 8 (the first manned spaceflight to travel to the Moon) the day before their launch. On July 16, 1969, Lindbergh and T. Claude Ryan (previous owner of the Ryan Flying Company that built the Spirit of St. Louis aircraft) were present at Cape Canaveral to watch the launch of Apollo 11. Lindbergh later wrote the foreword for Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins's autobiography, Carrying the Fire.
From the 1960s on, Lindbergh campaigned to protect endangered species like humpback and blue whales, was instrumental in establishing protections for the controversial Filipino group, the Tasaday, and African tribes, and supporting the establishment of a national park. While studying the native flora and fauna of the Philippines, he became involved in efforts to protect the Philippine Eagle and the Tamaraw, a rare dwarf buffalo on Mindoro Island.
Lindbergh's speeches and writings later in life emphasized his love of both technology and nature, and a lifelong belief that "all the achievements of mankind have value only to the extent that they preserve and improve the quality of life."
Lindbergh's final book, Autobiography of Values, based on an unfinished manuscript was published posthumously. While on his death bed, he had contacted his friend, William Jovanovich, head of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, to edit the lengthy memoirs.
Lindbergh spent his final years on the Hawaiian island of Maui, where he died of lymphoma on August 26, 1974, at age 72. He was buried on the grounds of the Palapala Ho'omau Church in Kipahulu, Maui. His epitaph on a simple stone that quotes Psalms 139:9, reads: "Charles A. Lindbergh Born Michigan 1902 Died Maui 1974". The inscription further reads: "... If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea ... C.A.L."
Honors and tributes
On May 8, 1928 a statue was dedicated at the entrance to Le Bourget Airport in Paris honoring Lindbergh and his New York to Paris flight as well as Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli who attempted the same feat two weeks earlier in the other direction aboard The White Bird (L'Oiseau Blanc) disappearing without a trace. In the United States Terminal 1-Lindbergh at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport was named after him, and a replica of The Spirit of St. Louis hangs there. Another such replica hangs in the great hall of the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis. The definitive oil painting of Charles Lindbergh by St. Louisan Richard Krause entitled "The Spirit Soars" has been displayed there. San Diego's Lindbergh Field, which is also known as San Diego International Airport, was named after him and also displays a replica of the San Diego-built Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis. The airport in Winslow, Arizona has also been renamed Winslow-Lindbergh Regional. Lindbergh himself designed the airport in 1929 when it was built as a refueling point for the first coast-to-coast air service. Among the many airports and air facilities that bear his name, the airport in Little Falls, Minnesota, where he grew up, has been named Little Falls/Morrison County-Lindbergh Field.
Lindbergh donated the original Spirit of St. Louis to the Smithsonian Institution in April 1928 where it has been on display continuously ever since. It currently hangs over the main lobby of the National Air and Space Museum located on the Mall in Washington, D.C. a few blocks from the Capitol.
In 1952, Grandview High School in St. Louis County was renamed Lindbergh High School. The school newspaper is the Pilot, the yearbook is the Spirit, the students are known as the Flyers, and the school's marching band holds the title of the Spirit of St. Louis Marching Band. The school district was also later named after Lindbergh. The stretch of US 67 that runs through most of the St. Louis metro area is called Lindbergh Boulevard. Lindbergh also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Lindbergh Senior High School is located in the southeastern section Renton, Washington, in Renton School District 403. It was founded in 1972. The class of 1974 was the first to graduate. In the 1970s, Charles A. Lindbergh Senior High School, in the Hopkins School District 270, located in a southwestern suburb of Minneapolis, was named for the Minnesota native and famed aviator. In 1980, Hopkins closed an older high school and renamed Lindbergh High as Hopkins Senior High School. The Lindbergh Center is located on the Hopkins High School campus.
In Lindbergh's hometown of Little Falls, Minnesota, one of the district's elementary schools is named Charles Lindbergh Elementary. The district's sports teams are named the Flyers and Lindbergh Drive is a major road on the west side of town, leading to Charles A. Lindbergh State Park. The Lindberghs donated their farmstead to the state to be used as a park in memory of Lindbergh's father. The original Lindbergh residence is maintained as a museum, the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Lindbergh is a recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest adult award given by the Boy Scouts of America.
In February 2002, the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston, within the celebrations for the Lindbergh 100th birthday established the Lindbergh-Carrel Prize, given to major contributors to "development of perfusion and bioreactor technologies for organ preservation and growth". M. E. DeBakey and nine other scientists received the prize, a bronze statuette expressly created for the event by the Italian artist C. Zoli and named "Elisabeth", after Elisabeth Morrow, sister of Lindbergh's wife Anne Morrow, who died as a result of heart disease. Lindbergh was disappointed that contemporary medical technology could not provide an artificial heart pump that would allow for heart surgery on Elisabeth and that led to the first contact between Carrel and Lindbergh.
On May 2, 2002, Lindbergh's grandson, Erik Lindbergh, celebrated the 75th anniversary of the pioneering 1927 flight of the Spirit of St. Louis by duplicating the journey in a single engine, two seat Lancair Columbia 200. The younger Lindbergh's solo flight from Republic Airport on Long Island, to Le Bourget Airport in Paris was completed in 17 hours and 7 minutes, or a little more than half the time of his grandfather's 33.5 hour original flight.
Awards and decorations
Lindbergh received many awards, medals and decorations, most of which were later donated to the Missouri Historical Society and are on display at the Jefferson Memorial, now part of the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri.
United States awards
- Medal of Honor (1927)
- Distinguished Flying Cross (1927)
- Congressional Gold Medal (1928)
- Langley Gold Medal from the Smithsonian Institution (1927)
- Hubbard Medal (1927)
- Honorary Scout (Boy Scouts of America, 1927)
- Silver Buffalo Award (Boy Scouts of America)
- Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy (1949)
- Daniel Guggenheim Medal (1953)
- Pulitzer Prize (1954)
- Commander of the Legion of Honor (France, 1931)
- Knight of the Order of Leopold (Belgium, 1927)
- Air Force Cross (UK) (1927)
- Grand Cross of the German Eagle (Großkreuz des Deutschen Adlerordens) (Germany Deutsches Reich, 1938)
- Official Royal Air Force Museum Medal (UK)
- Fédération Aéronautique Internationale FAI Gold Medal (1927)
- ICAO Edward Warner Award
Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve. Place and date: From New York City to Paris, France, May 20–21, 1927. Entered service at: Little Falls, Minn. Born: February 4, 1902, Detroit, Mich. G.O. No.: 5, W.D., 1928; Act of Congress December 14, 1927.[N 8]
- "For displaying heroic courage and skill as a navigator, at the risk of his life, by his nonstop flight in his airplane, the "Spirit of St. Louis", from New York City to Paris, France, 20–21 May 1927, by which Capt. Lindbergh not only achieved the greatest individual triumph of any American citizen but demonstrated that travel across the ocean by aircraft was possible".
In popular culture
In addition to "WE" and The Spirit of St. Louis, Lindbergh also wrote prolifically over the years on other topics of interest to him, including science, technology, nationalism, war, materialism, and values. Included among those writings were five other books: The Culture of Organs (with Dr. Alexis Carrel) (1938), Of Flight and Life (1948), The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (1970), Boyhood on the Upper Mississippi (1972), and his final book, Autobiography of Values, which was published posthumously in 1978.
In addition to many biographies such as A. Scott Berg's massive "Lindbergh" published in 1999 and others, Lindbergh also influenced or was the model for characters in a variety of works of fiction. Shortly after he made his famous flight, the Stratemeyer Syndicate began publishing a series of books for juvenile readers called the Ted Scott Flying Stories (1927–1943) which were written by a number of authors all using the nom de plume of "Franklin W. Dixon", in which the pilot hero was closely modeled after Lindbergh. Ted Scott duplicated the solo flight to Paris in the series' first volume, entitled Over the Ocean to Paris published in 1927. Another fictional literary reference to Lindbergh appears in the Agatha Christie book (1934) and movie Murder on the Orient Express (1974) which begins with a fictionalized depiction of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
The Philip Roth novel The Plot Against America (2004) is a speculative fiction novel which explores an alternate history where Franklin Delano Roosevelt is defeated in the 1940 presidential election by Charles Lindbergh, who allies the United States with Nazi Germany.
Film and television
Verdensberømtheder i København (1939) was a Danish short subject produced by the Dansk Film Co. in which Charles Lindbergh as well as Hollywood actors Robert Taylor, Myrna Loy, and Edward G. Robinson all appeared as themselves. The 1938 Paramount film Men with Wings (Fred MacMurray, Ray Milland) featured a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis fashioned from a Ryan B-1 "Brougham" similar to one presented to Lindbergh by the manufacturer, the Mahoney Aircraft Corporation, shortly after the Spirit was retired in April 1928. The 1942 MGM picture Keeper of the Flame (Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy) features Hepburn as the widow of Robert V. Forrest, a "Lindbergh-like" national hero, who was exposed after his death as a secret fascist intending to use his influence—especially over America's youth—to turn the country into a fascist state and eliminate those he deemed as inferior races.
Four years after its 1953 publication, Lindbergh's second book about his flying "partner" served as the basis for the namesake major Hollywood Cinemascope motion picture The Spirit of St. Louis, directed by Billy Wilder and released on April 20, 1957, one month short of the 30th anniversary of the flight to Paris. The Spirit was "portrayed" in the film by three flyable replicas of the Ryan NYP, while Lindbergh was played by veteran American actor and fellow Army aviator James Stewart. [N 9][N 10] In order to accurately depict the transatlantic flight, three replicas at a cost of $1.3 million (equal to more than $11 million in 2013) were made of the Spirit of St. Louis for the various location and studio film units. A similar Ryan Brougham was bought by Stewart and modified with Lindbergh's supervision.
Lindbergh has also been the subject of numerous screen, television, and other documentary films over the years, including Charles A. Lindbergh (1927), a UK documentary by De Forest Phonofilm based on Lindbergh's milestone flight, 40,000 Miles with Lindbergh (1928) featuring Charles A. Lindbergh, and The American Experience—Lindbergh: The Shocking, Turbulent Life of America's Lone Eagle (1988) PBS documentary directed by Stephen Ives.
Within days of the flight, dozens of Tin Pan Alley publishers rushed a variety of popular songs into print celebrating Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis including "Lindbergh (The Eagle of the U.S.A.)" by Howard Johnson and Al Sherman, and "Lucky Lindy" by L. Wolfe Gilbert and Abel Baer. In the two-year period following Lindbergh's flight, the U.S. Copyright Office recorded three hundred applications for Lindbergh songs. Tony Randall revived "Lucky Lindy" in an album of Jazz Age and Depression-era songs that he recorded entitled Vo Vo De Oh Doe (1967).
In 1929, Bertolt Brecht wrote a musical called Der Lindberghflug (The Lindbergh Flight) with music by Kurt Weill and Paul Hindemith. Because of Lindbergh's apparent Nazi sympathies, in 1950 Brecht removed all direct references to Lindbergh and renamed the piece Der Ozeanflug (The Ocean Flight).
Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit have been honored by a variety of world postage stamps over the last eight decades, including three issued by the United States. Less than three weeks after the flight the U.S. Post Office Department issued a 10-cent "Lindbergh Air Mail" stamp (Scott C-10) on June 11, 1927, with engraved illustrations of both the Spirit of St. Louis and a map of its route from New York to Paris. This was also the first U.S. stamp to bear the name of a living person. A half-century later, a 13-Cent commemorative stamp (Scott #1710) depicting the Spirit flying low over the Atlantic Ocean was issued on May 20, 1977, the 50th anniversary of the flight from Roosevelt Field. On May 28, 1998, a 32¢ stamp with the legend "Lindbergh Flies Atlantic" (Scott #3184m) depicting Lindbergh and the "Spirit" was issued as part of the Celebrate the Century stamp sheet series.
- Amelia Earhart
- Clyde Pangborn
- Douglas Corrigan
- First aerial crossing of the South Atlantic
- List of firsts in aviation
- List of people on stamps of Ireland
- List of Notable Freemasons
- List of peace activists
- List of Medal of Honor recipients during peacetime
- Third Man phenomenon
- Originally named the Hempstead Plains Aerodrome, the field was renamed Roosevelt Airfield in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt's son, Quentin, who was killed in air combat during World War I.
- "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." "WE" p. 125
- Harry H. Knight, Harold M. Bixby, Maj. William B. Robertson, Maj. Albert B. Lambert, Earl C. Thompson, Harry F. Knight, E. Lansing Ray
- Lindbergh's publisher, George P. Putnam, also promoted the career (and eventually married) another almost equally famous flyer of the era, the ill-fated American aviatrix Amelia Earhart.
- Cities in which Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis landed during the Guggenheim Tour included: New York, NY; Hartford, CT; Providence, RI; Boston, MA; Concord, NH; Orchard Beach & Portland, ME; Springfield, VT; Albany, Schenectady, Syracuse, Rochester, & Buffalo, NY; Cleveland, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; Wheeling, WV; Dayton & Cincinnati, OH; Louisville, KY; Indianapolis, IN; Detroit & Grand Rapids, MI; Chicago & Springfield, IL; St. Louis & Kansas City, MO; Wichita, KS; St. Joseph, MO; Moline, IL; Milwaukee & Madison, WI; Minneapolis/St. Paul & Little Falls, MN; Fargo, ND; Sioux Falls, SD; Des Moines, IA; Omaha, NE; Denver, CO; Pierre, SD; Cheyenne, WY; Salt Lake City, UT; Boise, ID; Butte & Helena, MT; Spokane & Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; San Francisco, Oakland, & Sacramento, CA; Reno, NV; Los Angeles & San Diego, CA; Tucson, AZ; Lordsburg, NM; El Paso, TX; Santa Fe, NM; Abilene, Fort Worth & Dallas, TX; Oklahoma City, Tulsa & Mukkogee, OK; Little Rock, AR; Memphis & Chattanooga, TN; Birmingham, AL; Jackson, MS; New Orleans, LA; Jacksonville, FL; Spartensburg, SC; Greensboro & Winston-Salen, NC; Richmond, VA; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, MD; Atlantic City, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY.
- Quote: So while the world's attention was focused on Hopewell, from which the first press dispatches emanated about the kidnapping, the Democrat made sure its readers knew that the new home of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh was in East Amwell Township Hunterdon County.
- In a stream of consciousness manner, Lindbergh detailed his visit immediately after World War II to a Nazi concentration camp, and his reactions. In the Japanese edition, there are no entries about Nazi camps. Instead, there is an entry recorded in his diary, that he often witnessed atrocities against Japanese POWs by Australians and Americans.
- In 1927 the Medal of Honor could still be awarded for extraordinarily heroic non-combat actions by active or reserve service members made during peacetime with almost all such medals being awarded to active duty members of the United States Navy for rescuing or attempting to rescue persons from drowning. In addition to Lindbergh, Floyd Bennett and Richard Evelyn Byrd of the Navy, were also presented with the medal for their accomplishments as explorers for their participation in the first successful heavier-than-air flight to the North Pole and back.
- James Stewart was 47 years of age when the film was made, almost twice as old as the then 25-year-old Lindbergh character he played.
- Both Lindbergh and Stewart retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve at the grade of Brigadier General.
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- "Urges Neutrality: Aviator Testifies He Wants Neither Side to Win Conflict." The New York Times, January 24, 1941, p. 1.
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- Schwartz, Steven Der Lindberghflug (The Lindbergh Flight) Classical net review of Capriccio recording (1999)
- 10-cent "Lindbergh Air Mail" issue (1927) US Stamp Gallery
- 13-cent "Lindbergh Flight" issue (1977) US Stamp Gallery
- 32-cent "Lindbergh Flies Atlantic" issue (1998) US Stamp Gallery
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charles Lindbergh.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Charles Lindbergh|
- Lindbergh foundation
- "Charles Lindbergh". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved June 17, 2009.
- Charles Lindbergh at the Internet Movie Database Retrieved: June 17, 2009.
- The Lindbergh Family Papers, including some materials of the famous aviator, are available for research use at the Minnesota Historical Society
- Lindbergh Related Items in the Missouri History Museum Collection
- Lindbergh's first solo flight
- CharlesLindbergh.com Pat Ranfranz
- Great Circle Sailing Chart of the North Atlantic Ocean discussing Charles Lindbergh from the World Digital Library
- on Lindbergh Woody Guthrie
- FBI History – Famous cases: The Lindbergh kidnapping
- PBS companion site to The American Experience program on Charles Lindbergh
- Lindbergh's Public Statements Were More Troubling Than His Private Affairs
- The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of the Third Reich
- America First: the Anti-War Movement, Charles Lindbergh and the Second World War, 1940–1941 presentation to The New York Military Affairs Symposium in 2003
- Chesler, Ellen. Better Above than Below. The New York Times, March 7, 1993
- Charles Lindbergh: September 11, 1941 speech at Des Moines, Iowa, transcript via PBS
- Lindbergh's Deranged Quest for Immortality
- Lindbergh's United States Air Service appointment certificate as 2nd Lt with rating as "Airplane Pilot", dtd March 14, 1925, and U.S. Department of Commerce civil airman's license as a "Transport Pilot".
- Booknotes interview with A. Scott Berg on Lindbergh, December 20, 1998.
- Photographs of Charles Lindbergh's Visit to Monterey, March 11, 1930 at The Bancroft Library
- Photographs and story of Charles Lindbergh's Visit to Maine, 1927 at Portland Magazine