Charles Augustus Lindbergh is generally acknowledged to be the most famous American aviator of all time. Lindbergh was one of a band of flying gypsies who discovered that following WW I there was little interest by the military in aviation and very few jobs available in the fledgling commercial aviation field. These pilots, who were hooked on flying, flew the mail, offered rides at county fairs, and barnstormed around the country in an attempt to eke out a small living and cover the cost of flying. In 1919 a wealthy New York hotel owner had established a prize of $25,000 for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris. By the mid-1920s, the technology appeared to be on the verge of permitting a successful crossing. In 1926 the famous WW I French fighter ace, Réné Fonck crashed his Sikorsky S-35 while attempting to takeoff from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, killing two of his four man crew. In April of 1927 a similar crash killed Noel Davis and Stanton Wooster. On May 8, another WW I French fighter ace, Charles Nungesser, and his copilot were killed when their flight from Paris to New York disappeared over the Atlantic. Each of these tragedies further aroused public interest in what seemed to be an impossible task. Charles Lindbergh had lots of experience flying in difficult conditions and at night from his years as a US Mail pilot. Unlike the others, Lindbergh believed that he would need to fly alone, and he opted to go with a fuel efficient single-engine aircraft. Lindbergh was an excellent planner, and his second choice for a suitable aircraft for his journey was a Ryan M-1 produced in San Diego. With much of his backing coming from St. Louis businessmen, Lindbergh named his aircraft the Spirit of St. Louis. The M-1 needed many modifications including an enlarged fuel capacity, and was fitted with a 237-HP Wright J-5C engine. To maintain the aircraft’s center of gravity one of the additional fuel tanks had to be fitted in the cockpit, blocking all visibility through the windscreen. A small telescope was fitted to provide some forward visibility. Bad weather delayed Lindbergh’s planned takeoff from Roosevelt Field, but on the morning of May 20, 1927 a small break in the weather allowed Lindbergh to attempt his takeoff. Barley missing power lines and trees at the end of the muddy airstrip Lindbergh got airborne. Less than 34 hours later he touched down at Le Bourget Field in Paris. Throngs of people were present to greet the new hero. Overcoming bad weather, disorientation, and fatigue, Lucky Lindy had overcome the odds, and become one of the greatest American heroes of this century. An interesting historical footnote to Lindbergh’s journey is the fact that only two weeks after his flight, two others (Chamberlin and Levine) flew non-stop from New York to Germany.
14"x21" Giclee on Paper
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