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Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh with the Spirit of St. Louis c.1927
Born4 February 1902(1902-02-04)
Detroit, Michigan
Died26 August 1974 (aged 72)
Kipahulu, Maui, Hawaii
SpouseAnne Morrow Lindbergh
ChildrenCharles Augustus Lindbergh II, Jon Lindbergh, Land Morrow Lindbergh, Anne Lindbergh, Scott Lindbergh and Reeve Lindbergh (by wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh); Dyrk Hesshaimer, Astrid Hesshaimer, and David Hesshaimer (by Brigitte Hesshaimer); Vago Hesshaimer and Christoph Hesshaimer (by Marietta Hesshaimer).
ParentsCharles August Lindbergh and Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh

Charles Augustus Lindbergh (4 February 1902 – 26 August 1974), known as "Lucky Lindy" and "The Lone Eagle," was an American pilot famous for the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic, from Roosevelt Field, Long Island to Paris in 1927 in the "Spirit of St. Louis." In the ensuing deluge of notoriety, Lindbergh became the world's best-known aviator.

In the years prior to World War II, Lindbergh was a noted isolationist, and a leader in the America First Committee to keep the U.S. out of the coming war. Nevertheless, he flew combat missions in the Pacific Theater as a consultant. In later years, Lindbergh took an active role in the environmental movement.

Charles Lindbergh is a recipient of the Medal of Honor. [1] [2]


Early years

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan, on 4 February 1902. He spent summers on a farm near Little Falls, Minnesota, but also spent time in Detroit and Washington, D.C.

His father, Charles August Lindbergh, a Swedish immigrant, was a lawyer and later a U.S. Congressman who opposed the entry of the U.S. into World War I. His mother Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh, of English, French, and Irish descent, was a teacher at Cass Technical High School and later at Little Falls High School. Lindbergh, for a short time, attended Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, California. He graduated from Little Falls, Minnesota High School in 1918.

Introduction to aviation

Early on, he showed an interest in machinery (first his family's Saxon Six, later his own Excelsior motorbike and, finally, aircraft). In 1922, he quit the mechanical engineering program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joined a pilot and mechanics training program with Nebraska Aircraft, bought his own aircraft, a World War I-surplus Curtiss JN-4, "Jenny" and became a barnstormer, the "Daredevil Lindbergh."[3] In 1924, he started training as a pilot with the Army Air Service. During this time he also held a job as an airline mechanic in Billings, Montana, working at the Billings Municipal Airport (later renamed Billings Logan International Airport).

After finishing first in his pilot training class, Lindbergh took his first job as the chief pilot of an airmail route operated by Robertson Aircraft Co. of Lambert Field in St. Louis, Missouri. He flew the mail in a de Havilland DH-4 biplane to Springfield, Peoria and Chicago, Illinois. During his tenure on the mail route, he was renowned for delivering the mail under any circumstances. After a crash, he even salvaged bags of mail from his burning aircraft and immediately phoned Alexander Varney, Peoria's airport manager, to advise him to send a truck.

In April 1923, while visiting friends in Lake Village, Arkansas, Lindbergh made his first nighttime flight over Lake Village and Lake Chicot.

First non-stop flight from New York to Paris

The Orteig Prize, a $25,000 prize offered in 1919 by New York hotelier Raymond Orteig, a Frenchman, for the first non-stop flight from New York City to Paris spurred a great amount of interest worldwide. Either an eastbound flight from New York or a westbound flight from Paris would qualify. The first challengers were French war heroes Captain Charles Nungesser and his navigator Raymond Coli. They took off on 8 May 1927 on a westbound flight in a Levasseur PL 8 named L'Oiseau Blanc. Their last contact was when they crossed the coast of Ireland. Other teams including famed World War I fighter ace René Fonck, Clarence Chamberlin (who made the second non-stop flight across the Atlantic two weeks after Lindbergh, landing in Eisleben, Germany near Berlin) and Admiral Richard E. Byrd, were also in the race to claim the prize. Noel Davis and Stanton H. Wooster were killed in a crash, and Charles N. Clavier and Jacob Islaroff were burned to death at Roosevelt Airfield when Fonck’s overloaded Sikorsky aircraft nosed over on takeoff.

Lindbergh gained sudden great international fame as the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. He flew from Roosevelt Airfield in Garden City, New York, to Paris (Le Bourget Airport) on 20 May - 21 May 1927 in 33.5 hours. His plane was the single-engine aircraft, The Spirit of St. Louis. It was designed by Donald Hall and custom built by Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego, California. (His grandson Erik Lindbergh repeated this trip 75 years later in 2002 in 17 hours 17 minutes.) The President of France bestowed on him the French Legion of Honor and, on his arrival back in the United States, a fleet of warships and aircraft escorted him to Washington, D.C. where President Calvin Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross on 11 June 1927.

Lindbergh's accomplishment won him the Orteig Prize; more significant than the prize money was the acclaim that resulted from his daring flight. A ticker-tape parade was held for him down 5th Avenue in New York City on 13 June 1927.[4]

His public stature following this flight was such that he became an important voice on behalf of aviation activities, including the central committee of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in the United States. The massive publicity surrounding him and his flight boosted the aircraft industry and made a skeptical public take air travel seriously. Lindbergh is recognized in aviation for demonstrating and charting polar air-routes, high altitude flying techniques, and increasing aircraft flying range by decreasing fuel consumption. These innovations are the basis of modern intercontinental air travel.

Elinor Smith Sullivan, winner of the 1930 Best Woman Aviator of the Year Award, described the impact Lindbergh had on aviation. Before his flight, she remembers, "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." [5]

Although Lindbergh was the first to fly solo from New York to Paris non-stop, he was not the first aviator to complete a transatlantic heavier-than-air aircraft flight. That had been done first in stages by the crew of the NC-4, in May 1919, although their flying boat broke down and had to be repaired before continuing. The NC-4 flights took 19 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

The first truly non-stop transatlantic flight was achieved nearly eight years before by two British flyers, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in a modified Vickers Vimy IV bomber on 14 June-15 June 1919, departing Lester's Field near St. John's, Newfoundland and arriving at Clifden, Ireland (a shorter route than Lindbergh's). A total of 81 people had flown across the Atlantic prior to Lindbergh. However, his was the first solo, non-stop transatlantic flight.[6]

  After his flight, Lindbergh wrote a letter to the director of Longines, describing in detail a watch which would make navigation easier for pilots. The watch was manufactured to his design and is still produced today.

    Flight from Paris to Belgium

    Lindbergh's flight to Belgium to be honored after his trans-Atlantic flight.

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Marriage, children, kidnapping

Main article: Lindbergh kidnapping

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the daughter of diplomat Dwight Morrow. According to a Biography Channel profile on Lindbergh, she was the only woman that he had ever asked out on a date. The couple married on 27 May 1929, and he taught her how to fly and did much of his exploring and charting of air routes with her. They had six children: Charles Augustus Lindbergh II (1930-1932); Jon Morrow Lindbergh (b. 16 August 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.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh II, 20 months old, was abducted from the Lindbergh home on 1 March 1932. A nationwide, ten-week search ensued, and ransom negotiations were conducted with the kidnappers. An infant corpse was found on 12 May in Hopewell, New Jersey, just a few miles from the Lindberghs' home, and identified by Lindbergh as his son. More than three years later, a media circus ensued when the man accused of the murder, Bruno Hauptmann, went on trial in Flemington, New Jersey. The Lindberghs grew tired of being in the spotlight and moved to Europe in December 1935, still mourning the loss of their son. Hauptmann maintained his innocence until the end, but he was found guilty and was executed on 3 April 1936.

Pre-war activities

In Europe, during the pre-war period, Lindbergh traveled to Germany several times at the behest of the U.S. military, where he reported on German aviation and the Luftwaffe (air force). Lindbergh was intrigued and stated that Germany had taken a leading role in many aviation developments, including metal construction, low-wing designs, dirigibles, and diesel engines. Lindbergh also undertook a survey of aviation in the Soviet Union in 1938 and reported to the United States military upon his return from each of these trips.

The Lindberghs lived in England and France during the late 1930s in order to find tranquility and avoid the celebrity that followed them everywhere in the United States after the kidnapping trial.

While living in France, Lindbergh worked with Nobel Prize-winning French surgeon Dr. Alexis Carrel, with whom he had collaborated on earlier projects when the latter lived in the United States. In 1930, Lindbergh's sister-in-law developed a fatal heart condition. Lindbergh began to wonder why no one could repair hearts with surgery. He discovered it was because organs could not be kept alive outside the body, and he set about working on a solution to the problem with Carrel. Lindbergh's invention, a glass perfusion pump, was credited with making future heart surgeries possible.[7] The device in this early stage was far from perfected, however. Although perfused organs were said to have survived surprisingly well, all showed progressive degenerative changes within a few days.[8] Carrel also introduced Lindbergh to eugenics and scientific racism; these ideas significantly influenced Lindbergh's later sympathies with fascist politics and American isolationism, which eventually ruined his public reputation in America.[9]

In 1929, Lindbergh became interested in the work of U.S. rocket pioneer Robert Goddard. The following year, Lindbergh helped Goddard secure his first endowment from Daniel Guggenheim, which allowed Goddard to expand his independent research and development. Lindbergh remained a key supporter and advocate of Goddard's work throughout his life.   In 1938, Lindbergh and Carrel collaborated on a book, The Culture of Organs, which summarized their work on perfusion of organs outside the body. Lindbergh and Carrel discussed an artificial heart[10] but it was decades before one was actually built.

In 1938, the American ambassador to Germany, Hugh Wilson, invited Lindbergh to a dinner with Hermann Göring at the American embassy in Berlin. The dinner included diplomats and three of the greatest minds of German aviation, Ernst Heinkel, Adolf Baeumaker and Dr. Willy Messerschmitt. Göring presented Lindbergh with the Service Cross of the German Eagle (the Großkreuz des Deutschen Adlers) for his services to aviation and particularly for his 1927 flight (Henry Ford received the same award earlier in July). Lindbergh's acceptance of the honor later caused an outcry in the United States. Lindbergh declined to return the medal to the Germans because he claimed that to do so would be "an unnecessary insult" to the German Nazi government. He returned to the United States soon after World War II broke out in Europe.

Munich Crisis

Lindbergh went to Germany at the urgent request of the U.S. military attaché in Berlin, who was charged with learning everything possible about Germany's new warplanes. Thus Lindbergh traveled repeatedly to Germany, touring German aviation facilities, where the Luftwaffe chief tried to convince Lindbergh that the Luftwaffe was far more powerful than it actually was. Lindbergh used his prestige to gain far more knowledge of German warplanes than any other American. As historian Wayne Cole explains:

"Of particular importance were the Junkers Ju 88 and, again, the Messerschmitt Bf 109. With the approval of Goering and Ernst Udet, Lindbergh was the first American permitted to examine the Luftwaffe's newest and best bomber, the Ju 88. And he got the unprecedented opportunity to pilot its finest fighter, the Bf 109. He was highly impressed by both aircraft and knew "of no other pursuit plane which combines simplicity of construction with such excellent performance characteristics" as the Bf 109. In his visits to Germany from 1936 through 1938, Colonel Lindbergh closely inspected all the types of military aircraft that Germany was to use in 1939 and 1940. The Bf 109 and Ju 88 were frontline German combat planes throughout World War II. And Lindbergh's findings about those various planes found their way into American air intelligence reports to Washington long before the European war began."[11]

At the urging of U.S. Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, Lindbergh wrote a secret memo for the British arguing that if England and France attempted to stop Adolf Hitler's aggression, it would be military suicide. Some military historians argue that Lindbergh was basically accurate and that his warnings helped save Britain from likely defeat in 1938. Others say that his actions were beneficial to the Third Reich's war effort. There is a case for both of these arguments, since Lindbergh favored a war between Germany and Russia, but deplored the rivalry between Germany and Britain. In Charles A. Lindbergh and the Battle against American Intervention in World War II, Cole explains how Lindbergh was dismayed that pacifism in France had already left that country without a sufficient military and possibly already doomed by 1938, and that Britain had an outdated military still focused on naval power instead of an updated air arsenal to deter the Luftwaffe and force Hitler to turn his ambitions eastward toward a war against "Asiatic Communism". There is some controversy as to how accurate his alarmism concerning the Luftwaffe was, but Cole reports that the consensus among British and American officials was that it was slightly exaggerated but nevertheless badly needed. Lindbergh saw no contradiction between his advocacy of stronger American and British armed forces and diplomatic appeasement of Nazi Germany. "Our civilization depends on peace among Western nations," he wrote in a controversial 1939 Reader's Digest article, "and therefore on united strength, for Peace is a virgin who dare not show her face without Strength, her father, for protection."[12]

Political allegations against Lindbergh

  Lindbergh was suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer because of his numerous scientific expeditions to Nazi Germany, combined with a belief in eugenics. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt considered him a Nazi and banned him from rejoining the military. Lindbergh's subsequent combat missions as a civilian consultant restored his reputation after the public found out about them, but only to an extent. However, his Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, A. Scott Berg, contends that 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. Indeed, 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.

A. Scott Berg similarly contends that 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. His anti-Communism resonated deeply with many Americans. Eugenics and Nordicism enjoyed much social acceptance,[13] and other notable enthusiasts of such ideas included Theodore Roosevelt,[14] Winston Churchill[15] and George S. Patton[16].

Lindbergh's political views were complex, and revealed both consistencies and inconsistencies with those of the Nazis. For instance, Lindbergh avowed a belief in American democracy. [17] However, 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.[18] He had, however, a relatively positive attitude toward blacks[19] (something that was scheduled to be fully revealed in an undelivered speech interrupted by the events that followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor[20]). Critics have noticed an apparent influence of German philosopher Oswald Spengler's ideas on Lindbergh's thinking[21]. Controversial and widely read throughout Western World during the interwar era[22][23], Spengler was conservative and authoritarian, but eventually fell out of favor with the Nazis because he did not wholly subscribe to their theories of racial purity.

Lindbergh's detractors created propaganda pamphlets attempting to tie him to alleged Nazi intrigue, pointing out that his efforts were praised in Nazi Germany and including quotations such as "Racial strength is vital– politics, a luxury." They also included pictures of him using the stiff-armed Bellamy salute (a hand gesture described by Francis Bellamy to accompany his Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States).[24] Berg explains that interventionist propagandists photographed Lindbergh and other America Firsters using this salute from an angle that did not show the American flag, so that it would be indistinguishable to observers from the Hitler salute.

Although Lindbergh was labeled "anti-Semitic" in some quarters for his admonishment of Jewish leaders who favored American involvement in foreign wars, he respected and sympathized with the Jewish people. In his Sept 11, 1941 non-interventionist speech in Des Moines, Iowa, Lindbergh declared, "I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire."[25][26] Lindbergh was ultimately critical of Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews. He said in 1941 that "No person with a sense of dignity of mankind can condone" such treatment. [27] He did not, however, think that America had any business attacking Germany and believed in upholding the Monroe Doctrine, which his interventionist rivals felt was outdated. He also feared that destroying a powerful European nation would lead to the downfall of Western Civilization and a rise in Communist supremacy over Europe.

Much of his position was because he considered Russia to be a "semi-Asiatic" rather than European country compared to Germany, and because he found Communism to be an ideology that would destroy the West's "racial strength" and eventually replace everyone of European descent with "a pressing sea of Yellow, Black, and Brown". The latter belief was more important and consistent than the former, since he saw Russia as a natural barrier to the rising East Asian powers.[28][29] He believed that race was directly correlated to national success and non-whites were generally mentally inferior. Lindbergh admired specific elements from European nations, such as "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 interrupted plan to voice his opposition to the Jim Crow laws was possibly inspired by his belief in black "sensate superiority" as well as an opportunity to expose what he saw as FDR's hypocrisy. As an advocate of political realism and a cultural pessimist, he may have also felt that state-enforced racial segregation had become untenable and counterproductive. 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.[30] Lindbergh considered Hitler a fanatic even before the details of the Holocaust reached him, but he openly stated that, if he had to choose, he would rather see his country allied with Nazi Germany than Soviet Russia. (He preferred "Nordic" cultures [31], but he also believed that Russia would one day be a valuable ally against potential aggression from East Asia after Soviet Communism was defeated.[32])

The American Axis ([4]), written by Holocaust researcher and investigative journalist Max Wallace, takes a harsh view of Lindbergh's pre-war actions, agreeing with Franklin Roosevelt's assessment that Lindbergh was "pro-Nazi". However, Wallace finds that the Roosevelt Administration's accusations of dual loyalty or treason are unsubstantiated. Wallace considers Lindbergh a well-intentioned but bigoted and misguided sympathizer of the Nazis whose career as the leader of the isolationist movement had a destructive impact on Jewish people. In his 1999 biography of Lindbergh, A. Scott Berg criticizes Lindbergh's anti-Semitic beliefs but distinguishes between what Berg considers Lindbergh's paranoia about the intentions of most American Jews and the virulent anti-Semitism of the Nazis. Berg also finds that Lindbergh believed in a voluntary rather than compulsory eugenics program but takes his subject to task for basing his view of the war on his "xenophobic thinking" and his assumption that Hitler was not as dangerous as a "Genghis Khan or Xerxes marching against our Western nations" because the Nazi leader was a European nationalist rather than a Communist or "some Asiatic intruder."

The same year that Berg's Pulitzer Prize winning bestseller Lindbergh was published, a book appeared by Pat Buchanan entitled A Republic, Not An Empire: Reclaiming America's Destiny. The book portrays Lindbergh and other pre-war isolationists as American patriots, who were smeared by interventionists during the months leading up to Pearl Harbor. Buchanan suggests that the backlash against Lindbergh highlights "the explosiveness of mixing ethnic politics with foreign policy". [33] The views expressed in the book caused considerable controversy that eventually led to Buchanan's departure from the Republican Party. [34]

Lindbergh had always preached military strength and alertness. [35] He believed that a strong defensive war machine, as well as his views about race, would make America an impenetrable fortress and defend the Western Hemisphere from an attack by foreign powers, and that this was the US military's sole purpose. [36]

Many acknowledge that Lindbergh helped keep American public opinion isolationist until 1941 by advancing the movement to keep America out of the war for as long as possible. At the same time, some praise Lindbergh for his prediction that an Iron Curtain would descend upon Europe; many of the predictions which Lindbergh made about the war came before Hitler violated his non-aggression pact with Stalin and launched Operation Barbarossa.[37] 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". Cole, Wallace, and Buchanan all believe that Lindbergh was highly influential in ensuring that Hitler's war machine would advance toward the Eastern Front and inflict the most devastation there.

However, it should be noted that, as the most prominent spokesman of the America First Committee, he fought the Lend-Lease Act and the Atlantic Charter. Had the Lead-Lease Act not been passed, as well as the Destroyers for Bases Agreement, Britain might not have survived, possibly leading to Axis victory.[citation needed]

Outbreak of war

As World War II began in Europe, Lindbergh became a prominent speaker in favor of non-intervention, going so far as to recommend that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Germany during his 23 January 1941 testimony before Congress. He joined the antiwar America First Committee and soon became its most prominent public spokesman, speaking to overflow crowds in Madison Square Garden in New York City and Soldier Field in Chicago.   In a speech at an America First rally on 11 September 1941 in Des Moines entitled "Who Are the War Agitators?" Lindbergh claimed that the three groups who had been "pressing this country toward war [were] the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt Administration" and complained about what he insisted was the Jewish People's "large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government." Although he made clear his opposition to German anti-Semitism, stating that "No person with a sense of the dignity of mankind can condone the persecution of the Jewish race in Germany," other comments seemed to suggest that he believed that Jews should expect trouble for supporting the war: "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". [38]

Lindbergh revealed a nativist xenophobia in an expurgated portion of his published diaries: “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.” His 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?"[citation needed]

There was widespread negative reaction to the speech. Lindbergh was forced to defend and clarify his comments by noting again that he was not anti-Semitic, but he did not back away from his statement. Lindbergh resigned his commission in the U.S. Army Air Corps when President Roosevelt openly questioned his loyalty (which did severe damage to his reputation at the time). After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Lindbergh attempted to return to the Army Air Corps, but was denied when several of Roosevelt's cabinet secretaries registered objections.

Lindbergh said: "I am not attacking the Jewish people. 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." [39]

World War II

Charles Lindbergh went on to assist with the war effort by serving as a civilian consultant to aviation companies, beginning with Ford in 1942, working at the Willow Run B-24 production line. Later in 1943, he joined United Aircraft as an engineering consultant, devoting most of his time to its Chance-Vought Division. As a technical advisor with Ford, he was deeply involved in trouble-shooting early problems encountered in B-24 production. As B-24 production smoothed out, he devoted more time to Chance-Vought. The following year, he persuaded United Aircraft to designate him a technical representative in the Pacific War to study aircraft performances under combat conditions. He showed Marine F4U pilots how to take off with twice the bomb load that the aircraft was rated for and on 21 May 1944 he flew his first combat mission. It was with VMF-222 on a strafing run near the Japanese garrison of Rabaul.[40]

In his six months in the Pacific in 1944, Lindbergh took part in fighter bomber raids on Japanese positions, flying about 50 combat missions (again as a civilian). His innovations in the use of P-38s impressed a supportive Gen. Douglas MacArthur. [41] Despite the long range exhibited by the P-38 Lightning leading to missions such as the one that killed Admiral Yamamoto, Lindbergh's contributions included engine-leaning techniques that he introduced to P-38 Lightning pilots. These techniques greatly improved fuel usage while cruising, enabling the aircraft to fly even longer-range missions. On 28 July 1944 during a P-38 bomber escort mission with the 475th Fighter Group, Fifth Air Force, in the Ceram area, Lindbergh is credited with shooting down a Sonia observation plane piloted by Captain Saburo Shimada, Commanding Officer of the 73rd Independent Chutai.[42][40] The US Marine and Army Air Force pilots who served with Lindbergh admired and respected him, praising his courage and defending his patriotism. [43]

Later life

  After World War II he lived quietly in Connecticut as a consultant both to the chief of staff of the U.S. 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 had been correct all along. But Berg reports that after witnessing the defeat of Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust firsthand shortly after his service in the Pacific, "he knew the American public no longer gave a hoot about his opinions." His 1953 book The Spirit of St. Louis, recounting his non-stop transatlantic flight, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954. Dwight D. Eisenhower restored Lindbergh's assignment with the Army Air Corps and made him a Brigadier General in 1954. 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 on the eve of the first manned spaceflight to leave earth orbit.

Children from other relationships

From 1957 until his death in 1974, Lindbergh had an affair with German hat maker Brigitte Hesshaimer who lived in a small Bavarian town called Geretsried (35 km south of Munich). On 23 November 2003, DNA tests proved that he fathered her three children: Dyrk (1958), Astrid (1960) and David (1967). The two managed to keep the affair secret; even the children did not know the true identity of their father, whom they saw when he came to visit once or twice per year using the alias, "Careu Kent". Astrid later read a magazine article about Lindbergh and found snapshots and more than a hundred letters written from him to her mother. She disclosed the affair after both Brigitte and Anne Morrow Lindbergh had died.

A new German book by Rudolf Schroeck, "The Double life of Charles A. Lindbergh", claims seven secret children in Germany. It says Lindbergh "came and went as he pleased" during the last 17 years of his life, spending between three to five days with his Munich family about four to five times each year. "Ten days before he died in August 1974, Lindbergh wrote three letters from his hospital bed to his three mistresses and requested 'utmost secrecy'," Schroeck writes, whose book includes a copy of that letter to Brigitte Hesshaimer.

Environmental causes

From the 1960s on, Lindbergh became an advocate for the conservation of the natural world, campaigning to protect endangered species like humpback and blue whales, was instrumental in establishing protections for the "primitive" 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 also became involved in an effort to protect the Philippine eagle. In his final years, Lindbergh became troubled that the world was out of balance with its natural environment; he stressed the need to regain that balance, and spoke against the introduction of supersonic airliners.

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." In a 1967 Life magazine article, he said, "The human future depends on our ability to combine the knowledge of science with the wisdom of wildness."

In honor of Charles and his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh's vision of achieving balance between the technological advancements they helped pioneer, and the preservation of the human and natural environments, the Lindbergh Award was established in 1978. Each year since 1978, the Lindbergh Foundation has given the award to recipients whose work has made a significant contribution toward the concept of "balance".

His final book, Autobiography of Values, was published posthumously.


  Lindbergh spent his final years on the Hawaiian island of Maui, where he died of lymphoma [44] on 26 August 1974.[45] He was buried on the grounds of the Palapala Ho'omau Church in Kipahulu, Maui. His epitaph on a simple stone which quotes Psalms 139:9, reads: Charles A. Lindbergh Born: Michigan, 1902. Died: Maui, 1974. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea. — CAL

Because of earthquake damage to Hawaii State Highway 31, Lindbergh's final resting place is presently accessible by land only via State Highway 360, or the so-called Road to Hana.


The Lindbergh Terminal at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport was named after him, and a replica of The Spirit of St. Louis hangs there. Another replica of his plane hangs in the great hall at the recently rebuilt Jefferson Memorial at Forest Park in St. Louis. The definitive oil painting of Charles Lindbergh by St. Louisan Richard Krause entitled "The Spirit Soars" ([5]) has also been displayed there. He also lent his name to San Diego's Lindbergh Field, which also is known now as San Diego International Airport. The airport in Winslow, Arizona has 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. The airport in Little Falls, Minnesota, where he grew up, has been named Little Falls/Morrison County-Lindbergh Field.

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, and the students are known as the Flyers. 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 Blvd." Lindbergh also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

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 Lindbergh State Park (named after Lindbergh's father).

Lindbergh is a recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, the highest adult award given by the Boy Scouts of America.

The controversy surrounding his involvement in politics (and to a lesser extent, his personal life) sometimes overshadows the fact that he was an important pioneer in aviation from the 1920s to the 1950s. His 1927 flight made him the first international celebrity in the age of mass media. One U.S. Air Force general remembers Lindbergh's critical view of his own legacy. In the late 1940s, Lindbergh visited U.S. Air Force bases to evaluate American air power (of which he was a staunch supporter) in relation to the emerging Cold War. During this trip, he remarked "I think my flight to Paris came too soon for the civilizations of the world. They were suddenly thrown together by air travel and they weren't quite ready for it." [46]

Awards and decorations

Lindbergh was given many medals. Most were given to the Missouri Historical Society and are on display at the Jefferson Memorial, now part of the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri:

  • Medal of Honor (USA)
  • Legion of Honor (French)
  • Royal Air Force Cross (UK)
  • Hubbard Medal (USA, 1927)
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (USA)
  • Service Cross of the German Eagle (German)
  • Wright Brother Memorial Trophy (USA)
  • Daniel Guggenheim Medal (USA)
  • Pulitzer Prize (USA)
  • Silver Buffalo Award (USA)
  • Official Royal Air Force Museum medal
  • Honorary Scout (USA, 1927) [47]

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve. Place and date: From New York City to Paris, France, 20-21 May 1927. Entered service at: Little Falls, Minn. Born: 4 February 1902, Detroit, Mich. G.O. No.: 5, W.D., 1928; act of Congress 14 December 1927.

Citation: 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.

Popular culture

  Lindbergh's life has spurred the imaginations of many writers and others; the following list provides a summary of notable popular cultural references:

  • Charles Lindbergh was selected as Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1927, the first holder of that title.
  • Shortly after Lindbergh made his famous flight, the Stratemeyer Syndicate began publishing the Ted Scott Flying Stories (1927- 1943) by Franklin W. Dixon wherein the hero was closely modeled after Lindbergh.
  • Charles A. Lindbergh (1927) was a UK documentary by De Forest Phonofilm based on Charles A. Lindbergh's landmark flight.
  • A song called "Lindbergh (The Eagle Of The U.S.A.)" was released soon after the 1927 flight. A multitude of other songs included the title "Lucky Lindy" were also released in the aftermath of the Atlantic crossing. Tony Randall, not particularly known for singing, but a fan of old songs, revived the song,"Lucky Lindy", in the 1960s in a collection of jazz-age and depression era songs that he recorded.
  • The dance craze, the "Lindy Hop" became popular after his flight, and was named after him.
  • 40,000 Miles with Lindbergh (1928) was a documentary featuring Charles A. Lindbergh.
  • The Agatha Christie book (1934) and movie Murder on the Orient Express (1974) begin with a fictionalized depiction of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
  • Verdensberømtheder i København (1939) was an English/Danish co-production starring Robert Taylor, Myrna Loy and Edward G. Robinson featured Charles A. Lindbergh as himself.
  • Woody Guthrie wrote a song called "Lindbergh" on "The Asch Recordings Vol. 1" recorded in the 1940s. The song was anti-Lindbergh, and included the line "they say America First but they mean America Next."
  • The 1942 film, Keeper of the Flame, starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, features Hepburn as the wife of a Lindbergh-like national hero who is secretly a fascist. He intended to use his influence, especially over America's youth, to turn the country into a fascist state and eliminate inferior races. It appears it had been inspired by the controversy surrounding Lindbergh.
  • James Stewart played Lindbergh in the biographical The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), directed by Billy Wilder.
  • In Eric Norden's alternate history novel The Ultimate Solution (1973), Norden speculates that Lindbergh would have been president of a Nazi-occupied American puppet state.
  • The American Experience - Lindbergh: The Shocking, Turbulent Life of America's Lone Eagle (1988) was a PBS documentary directed by Stephen Ives.
  • In the early 2000s, a full-length musical called "Baby Case," about the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping and subsequent trial and media circus, was performed at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia to good reviews.
  • 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.
  • In the January 3, 2008 episode of Jeopardy!, the final Jeopardy! category referred to Lindbergh. Under the category of "Aviation History", the clue read "He was the 118th person to fly over the Atlantic Ocean".

See also

  • NC-4 - The first flight across the Atlantic in a heavier-than-air aircraft.
  • Alcock and Brown - The first non-stop flight across the Atlantic in a heavier-than-air aircraft.
  • Lindbergh (The Eagle Of The U.S.A.) a popular song by Al Sherman & Howard Johnson.
  • Lindy Hop - The original swing dance named after "Lindy hopped the Atlantic."
  • List of people on stamps of Ireland
  • The Lindbergh kidnapping.
  • Dwight Morrow
  • America First Committee
  • List of Medal of Honor recipients: Peacetime


  1. ^ Lindbergh Medal of Honor The citation reads: "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."
  2. ^ Smith, Larry, Dams, Adams, Eddie and Schwarzkop, Norman. Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2003, p.xiv. ISBN 0-39305-134-X. Note: the authors explain that although the criterion was for risk of life "in military action", Congress voted to present the Medal of Honor to Lindbergh for his courage.
  3. ^ Mosley 1976, p. 46.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Jennings, Peter and Brewster, Todd. The Century. New York: Doubleday, 1998. ISBN 0-38548-327-9.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Schlesinger Interview, PBS Lindbergh documentary.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Cole 1974, p. 39-40.
  12. ^ "Aviation, Geography, and Race," Reader's Digest, November 1939 [1][2]
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Charles Lindbergh Speech
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^,9171,772983,00.html
  22. ^,9171,928375,00.html?promoid=googlep
  23. ^,9171,746957,00.html?iid=chix-sphere
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^,9171,772983,00.html
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^,
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Extract from: Des Moines Speech (PBS)
  40. ^ a b Mersky 1983, p. 93.
  41. ^
  42. ^ [3]
  43. ^,
  44. ^ Choosing Life: Living Your Life While Planning for Death: Charles Lindbergh
  45. ^ Daring Lindbergh Attained the Unattainable With Historic Flight Across Atlantic. New York Times, 27 August 1974. On this Day Access date: 27 July 2007 Quote: In Paris at 10:22 P.M. on May 21, 1927, Charles Augustus Lindbergh, a one-time Central Minnesota farm boy, became an international celebrity. A fame enveloped the 25-year-old American that was to last him for the remainder of his life, transforming him in a frenzied instant from an obscure aviator into a historical figure.
  46. ^
  47. ^ (August 29 1927) "Around the World". Time (magazine). Retrieved on 2007-10-24.
  • Berg, A. Scott. Lindbergh. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1998. ISBN 0-399-14449-8.
  • Cole, Wayne S. Charles A. Lindbergh and the Battle Against American Intervention in World War II. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974. ISBN 0-15-118168-3.
  • Gill, Brendan. Lindbergh Alone. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977. ISBN 0-15-152401-7.
  • Lindbergh, Charles A. Charles A. Lindbergh: Autobiography of Values. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977. ISBN 0-15-110202-3.
  • Lindbergh, Charles A. We. New York: Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, 1927.
  • Mersky, Peter B. U.S. Marine Corps Aviation - 1912 to the Present. Annapolis, Maryland; Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1983. ISBN 0-933852-39-8.
  • Milton, Joyce. Loss of Eden: A Biography of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. New York, Harper Collins, 1993. ISBN 0-06-016503-0.
  • Mosley, Leonard. Lindbergh: A Biography. New York; Doubleday and Company, 1976. ISBN 0-395-09578-3.
  • Schroeck, Rudolph. The Double Life of Charles A. Lindbergh. Munich, Germany: Heyne Verlag, 2005. ISBN 3-453-12010-8.
  • Winters, Lathleen. Anne Morrow Lindbergh: First Lady of the Air. Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. ISBN 1-403-96932-9.

Preceded by
Time's Man of the Year
Succeeded by
Walter Chrysler
NAME Lindbergh, Jr., Charles Augustus
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Lindbergh, Charles
DATE OF BIRTH 4 February 1902
PLACE OF BIRTH Detroit, Michigan
DATE OF DEATH 26 August 1974
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Charles_Lindbergh". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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