Charles Augustus Lindbergh

One of the greatest heroes the world has ever known Charles Augustus Lindbergh. He is most famous for his transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. Lindbergh acquired great fame for doing “good will” tours in Latin America. Other than politicians and war heroes no one has yet quite matched his fame. He was a genus when it came to aviation and mechanics. He advised the making and design of several planes from ones made of wood and wire to supersonic jets. He helped several countries and airlines by giving them advise on their air fleets. He wrote several documents of his journeys and of his life.

Charles Lindbergh entered this world on February 4, 1902 in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in Rapid Falls, Minnesota on a family farm. His father’s name was Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Sr. He was a lawyer and a congressman for the state of Minnesota between the years of 1907 and 1917. His mother’s name was Evangeling Land Lodge. As a child Lindbergh showed that he had a great deal of mechanical ability. When he was eighteen years old he began attending the University of Wisconsin. While at Wisconsin he majored in mechanical engineering. During his time at the university he paid more attention to the growing field of avaion than he did to his studies.

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In 1924 Charles Lindbergh enlisted in the United States Army so he could begin studying on how to be a fighter pilot. One year later he graduated from the Army flight training school that was held on both Brook’s field and Kelly’s field. He graduated as the number one pilot in his class. After that he bought his own airplane and for the next six years of his life he spent flying an airplane for Robertson Aircraft Corporation. The planes filled with mail he flew from St. Louis, Missouri to Chicago, Illinois. During this time he was also a barnstormer which is a stunt pilot that does stunts over fairs and other public gatherings. During this time he received a reputation of not only being a cautions pilot but a quite capable pilot as well.

A New York City hotel owner named Raymond Orteig started the Orteig Prize. The Orteig Prize was a twenty five thousand dollars for the first man to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo and without stopping in between. Many pilots were injured or even killed trying to win the Orteig Prize. Raymond Orteig started the competition in 1919 and Charles Lindbergh had begun to take interest in it in the year 1926. In 1927 when somebody had yet to win the Orteig Prize Lindbergh found nine St. Louis businessmen to sponsor him because he thought with the right plane he would have no problem flying across the Atlantic Ocean. The businessmen began to promote the flight. That right plane was known as the “Sprit of St. Louis”. Ryan Aircraft Company in San Diego built the “Sprit of St. Louis”. He gave the “Spirit of St. Louis” a test drive from San Diego, California to New York, New York making one stop in St. Louis. That flight took twenty hours and twenty-one minutes setting a new transcontinieal record.

Charles Lindbergh started his transatlantic flight in Roosevelt Field on Long Island; the time was seven fifty two a.m. He flew from Roosevelt Field to Le Bourget Airport in Paris. He landed at ten twenty two P.M. on May 21. It took him thirty-three and half-hours to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. He traveled three thousand six hundred miles until he finally reached Paris. At the airport one hundred thousand people gathered after hearing that he was sighted flying over Ireland. A few days later he flew to Croydon Airport in London. It was dark when he landed and there were not many people there to witness the landing. As a result of having few people there, there were no photographs taken. When he returned to America there were several photographers waiting to get a picture of him. The press began to give him nicknames such as “Lucky Lindy” and the “Lone Eagle”. The world instantly made him a hero and an international celebrity. Lindbergh was a shy, slim young man that was showered with honors. The President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge presented Charles Lindbergh with the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In 1927 Charles Lindbergh published a book called “We” it is about his transatlantic flight. “We” refers to Lindbergh and the “Spirit of St. Louis”. After he published the book he flew all around the United States promoting airmindedness on behalf of Daniel Guggenheim. While doing this he learned about research that Robert Goddard was doing on rockets. Lindbergh persuaded Daniel Guggenheim to support Robert Goddard’s experiments on rockets. Robert Goddard’s experiments led to the early development of missiles, satellites and space travel.

After flying around the United States, Charles Lindbergh began to fly to Latin American countries to promote “good will”. On his “good will” tour he made a total of eighty-two stops and traveled twenty two thousand miles in two hundred sixty hours and forty-five minutes. He did this on behalf of the United States government. While doing this he met his wife in 1929. Her name was Anne Spencer Morrow. Anne was the daughter of Dwight Morrow, a United States ambassador to Mexico. After their marriage Lindbergh taught his wife to fly an airplane. Then him and his wife went on several flying expeditions all around the world. His wife became famous not just because she was married to Charles Lindbergh but because she wrote excellent poetry and other writings.

On June 22, 1930 Charles and Anne Lindbergh had their first child and his name was Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. Then on February 23, 1932 their son was kidnapped. This was just after they had moved to a new home in Hopewell, New Jersey. The newspapers followed the case closely. The public demanded daily updates. Then on May 12, 1932 the body of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. was found in a shallow grave. The grave was just of the Hopewell-Princeton Road. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was convicted of the crime and executed for it. The publicity of the ordeal caused the Lindbergh’s with their other son Jon Lindbergh to move to Europe for safety and privacy. Hauptmann could not actually be executed for kidnapping and the child’s death was said to be accidental. He could not even be executed under the “felony murder” doctrine because kidnapping was not a felony in New Jersey. However the public and prosecutors wanted the death penltity so Hauptmann was convicted of breaking an entry and stealing pajamas, which is a felony in New Jersey. This allowed him to be executed under the “felony murder” doctrine. This cased caused a new federal law to come into effect and it is called the “Lindbergh Law” making kidnapping a federal offence if the victim is taken across state lines or the United States Postal Service was used to mail a ransom letter.

In June 1936 Charles Lindbergh was invited to see the Germans air force establishment and give his opinion about it. While he was visiting he was treated with a great deal of respect and admiration. Upon leaving the establishment he said that Germany had the finest air force in all of Europe and that it could defeat Russian, British and French air forces combined. He not only admired Germany for their outstanding air fleet but he also admired them as people. He shared many believes with the Nazis such as their disliking of Jews. On October 18,1838 Goring, a German general presented Lindbergh with the Verdienstkreus der Deutscher Aldler for his service to Germany. They also gave him the medal for being the first man to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo. Since he accepted the and kept the medal even after German Storm Troopers rounded up the Jews and smashed their shops, it ruined his hero like image. After inspecting the German air fleet, the French wanted him to examine theirs but much to their disappointment they found out the Germans were far superior.

In 1939 Charles Lindbergh and his family returned to the United States of America. In 1940 Lindbergh began to speak out against the United States of America joining World War II. The American people did not look down upon him for this because many Americans did not want to send our soldiers to die. The American people did not support his anti-Semitism and the statements he made about would come back to haunt him later in his life. Then when President Theodore Roosevelt denounced his statements in public, Charles Lindbergh resigned from the Air Corps reserve in 1941.

The United States entered the war after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. At this time Charles Lindbergh requested that be allowed to serve in the military again. When both President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson denied his request he gave up. However he did serve as an aircraft consultant for Ford Motor Company and United Aircraft Corporation during the war. He served mainly as a test pilot for Ford Motor Company. While he worked for United Aircraft Corporation he flew fifty missions and logged one hundred seventy nine combat hours. All of his combat hours were against the Japanese because he supported the Germans.

Charles Lindbergh made many advances in aviation among them is cruise control for American fighter planes. The cruise control technique improved the capabilities of the planes. After the invention of cruise control he was appointed Chief of Staff for the United States Air Force. Shortly after that the Pan American Airlines hired him as a consultant and he advised Pan American Airlines to purchase jet transporters. This lead to Charles Lindbergh assists in the design of the Boeing 747.

After being a consultant for Pan American Airlines. Charles Lindbergh wrote “The Spirit of St. Louis” in 1953 which was an expanded version of the book “We”. The book won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1954. Following the publishing of his book he was appointed brigadier general in the United States Air Force reserve. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him in 1954.

After serving as the brigadier general Charles Lindbergh began to travel all over the world. He visited Africa and the Philippines and became fascinated with their cultures. In the 1960’s Lindbergh began to speak out for the conservation movement. He tried to save species such as the Humpback Whale and the Blue Whale both of which were on the endanger species list. He also opposed the development of supersonic transport planes because they might have been poetically dangerous to the earth’s atmosphere.

During his life a friend had introduced Charles Lindbergh to Maui, Hawaii. He thought it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. Later in his life that same friend asked Lindbergh if he wanted to buy several acres on the island. The land was filled with forest, cliffs, several natural swimming pools and plenty of seashore. He immediately accepted his friend’s offer. Then he and his wife moved to Hawaii and built a simple home because they wanted to get back to nature. In 1974 Lindbergh had been placed in a New York hospital to treat his cancer from which he was dying but he flew a plane from New York to Hana, Maui to spend his final days in solitude with his family. In knowing he was going to die he planned a simple funeral for himself. He had a pick up truck for a hearse. Charles Augustus Lindbergh died on August 26, 1974 in Maui, Hawaii. He is buried in a small church graveyard in Kipahulu, Hawaii. After his death a collection of his writings were published in 1978 and the book was entitled “Autobiography of Values”.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an explorer and pioneer in the field of aviation. His story showed great triumph of the human spirit. When Charles Lindbergh’s son had been kidnapped it shocked and fascinated the entire world. He was not only one of the finest pilots of his time but he was an excellent public speaker. In the 1920’s and 1930’s English teachers used his writings and even more often his wife’s writings in their English lessons. English and History teachers still use Charles Lindbergh’s and his wife’s works in their lessons. Even though Lindbergh was most famous for his transatlantic flight and winning the Orieg Prize he is also honored for his expertise in aviation and promoting “good will” throughout the Latin American countries. He is also given partial credit for such creations as the Boeing 747. Lindbergh was also a great combat pilot in World War II when fighting against the Japanese as a civilian. That is how Charles Lindbergh became one of the world’s greatest heroes.

Schonewald-Cox, C.M. 1988. Boundaries in the protection of nature reserves. Bioscience 38:480-486
Lindbergh, C.A. 1976. Autobiography of Values. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich. New York
Berg, A. Scott 1998. Lindbergh. G.P. Putman’s. New York
Mosley, Leonard 1976. Lindbergh: a Biography. Doubleday. Garden City, New York

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