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Charles A. Lindbergh

 

 

Charles A. Lindbergh, the son of a Minnesota congressman, entered the University of Wisconsin in 1920. Two years later he interrupted his education as a mechanical engineer to join a flying school. He bought his own plane and became an airmail pilot in 1925. At the time, a $25,000 prize was being offered to whoever made the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris. Lindbergh obtained the backing of some St. Louis businessmen, purchased a monoplane, which he named the Spirit of St. Louis, and on May 20-21, 1927, accomplished the flight in thirty-three and half hours. He became a hero of heroes at once as the United States exploded into vast demonstrations of admiration. In a quarter century since the Wright Brothers flew their plane, aeronautics had remained little more than a matter of stunting and thrills. There had been dogfights in World War I and some airmail service, but the general public did not take airplanes seriously as a means of transportation.

Charles & Anne Lindbergh

Lindbergh's flight, however, brought the airplane into public consciousness with a vengeance. The way was paved for the expansion of commercial flight. By the time another quarter century had passed, jet plane travel had arrived, the people of the world achieved a new mobility, and the railroad after a century of domination entered into decline.

Following the golden days of his solo flight, Lindbergh served science by working in designing an artificial heart. He was also in the news twice in less happy circumstances. In 1932 his first son, aged two, was kidnapped and murdered in a crime that made as great a sensation as had Lindbergh's flight five years before.

In the late 1930's he was one of the leading isolationists, fighting against participation of the United States in Europe's fight against Germany. However, when the United States actually went to war, he offered his services to the Army Air Forces. he went on several missions to the Pacific and Europe as a civilian consultant.

From Leadership: 2000 And Beyond, Vol. I, Civil Air Patrol, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.


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