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Charles Lindbergh Biography

Charles Augustus Lindbergh- An Overview

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, inventor, social activist, author and explorer. He was the first person to make a nonstop flight across Atlantic Ocean. Though many other pilots had crossed the ocean before him, but Lindbergh was the first to make it solo and non-stop. This feat of Lindbergh brought him from virtual obscurity to instantaneous world fame. He was nicknamed as lucky lindy, slim, and the lone eagle.

Between 1920s and 1930s, he made efforts to promote the development of commercial aviation and air mail services of USA. In March 1932, Charles infant son was kidnapped and murdered which eventually became the Crime of the Century. This incident forced Lindbergh and his family to choose voluntary exile.

During World War II, he was the leader of anti-war American first movement until the Japan attacked the pearl harbor, after which strongly supported the war efforts.

Early Life

Born on Feb 4, 1902, in Detroit, Michigan, Charles Augustus Lindbergh spent most of his life on a farm near Minnesota. His father Charles Augustus Lindbergh Sr. was a lawyer and his mother was Evangeline lodge land Lindbergh. Lindbergh’s father served the nation as US congressman from Minnesota (1907-1917).

Since childhood, Lindbergh used to amaze people with his exceptional mechanical ability. At 18 years of age, he got admission in University of Wisconsin for studying engineering. However, Lindbergh was quite inclined towards the field of aviation so he left the school in the middle of his sophomore year and joined barnstormer.

Serving United States Army

Finally in 1924, Lindbergh got listed in the US Army to be trained as an Army Air Service Reserve Pilot. He was admitted to Army’s flight training school at Brooks and Kelly Fields, near San Antonio from where he graduated as the best pilot in his class. Soon, the Robertson Aircraft Corporation of St Louis gave him the chance to be the professional pilot. He was supposed to fly mail between St Louis and Chicago. Gradually his work made him earn a reputation of calm, cautious and capable pilot.

Orteig Prize

In 1919, Raymond Orteig announced a cash prize of $25000 for the aviator who will fly from New York to Paris non-stop. Several pilots lost their lives and many were injured in the hope of winning the challenge. However, all efforts went in vain till 1927. Lindbergh knew that he could win this challenge provided he has the right plane. He took help of nine St Louis businessmen to meet the cost of the plane he wanted to design. He took help of Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego to manufacture this specially designed plane. This plane was named as spirit of St Louis. He then, tested the plane by flying from San Diego to New York City.

After satisfying himself in every manner, he was ready to take up the challenge. On may 20 1927, he took the spirit of St Louis from Roosevelt field, near New York City at 7:52 A.M. and landed at Le Bourget field, near Paris on may 21 at 5:21 PM (New York City time). His flight was successful and there was huge gathering to meet, cheer and see the Lindbergh. He actually flew 3600 miles in 33 ½ hours. The heroic flight of Lindbergh thrilled the people around. He was awarded with various prizes along with Orteig prize and was honored with celebrations and parades. He was also awarded with the Congressional Medal of Honor by the then president Calvin Coolidge.

Immediate Aftermath of the Flight

After the successful meeting up of the challenge, Lindbergh published a book titled “We” which referred to the Lindbergh and his plane, Spirit of St Louis. This flight gave him the chance to serve as a technical adviser in several airlines.

A north shore multimillionaire and aviation enthusiast, Harry Guggenheim visited Charles Lindbergh before his flight to Paris and asked him to meet him once he is back. Lindbergh call Guggenheim on his return and this led to the beginning of a friendship which helped the development of aviation industry in the United States. They both decided for a three-month nationwide tour with Spirit of St Louis which was funded by Harry and his father.

According to Richard P. Hallion, historian for the Air Force, “Lindbergh was seen by literally millions of people as he flew around the country. Airmail usage exploded overnight as a result,” and the public began to view airplanes as a viable means of travel.”

Personal Life

Lindbergh made various flight tours in Latin-American countries on the request of the U.S. government to symbolize the American Goodwill. During these visits, when he was in Mexico he met with Anne Spencer Morrow. He married her in the year 1929. Lindbergh gave flying lessons to Anne and they both made various flying expeditions throughout the world finding new routes for different airlines. Anne Morrow was also quite known for his poetry and other writings.

Invention of an Artificial Heart

During 1931-1935, Lindbergh developed an “artificial heart” for Alexis Carrel. Carrel was a French surgeon and biologist who worked on experiments to keep the organs alive outside the body. Lindbergh’s device helped him as it was capable of pumping blood throughout the body tissues.

The Crime of the Century

Charles Lindbergh’s 20 month old son, Charles Augustus Jr. was kidnapped on March 1, 1932 from his home in New Jersey. His body was found after ten weeks. During investigations, police arrested a carpenter Bruno Richard Hauptmann charging him of murder. He was convicted of the crime and was executed in 1936.

This tragedy became sensational news. Lindbergh was repeatedly pestered by the questions and curiosities of reporters, photographers and onlookers. All this forced Lindbergh to choose for voluntary exile and he moved to Europe with his wife and 3 year old son, Jon. The kidnapping and its unpopularity led congress pass the “Lindbergh law” which made kidnapping a federal offence.

German Medal of Honor

Lindbergh’s flying escapades were renowned all over the world. He was invited by the France and German governments to tour their aircraft industries. Lindbergh was quite impressed with German aircraft industry. In 1938, a high Nazi official, Hermann Goering offered German Medal Of Honor to Lindbergh. As Lindbergh accepted the honor, it raised an outcry among the critics of Nazism in the United States.

Political Life

In 1941, Lindbergh joined an organization America First Committee which opposed voluntary American entry into World War II. He became the leading spokesperson there. He criticized the then president Franklin D. Roosevelt saying that British, Jewish and Pro-Roosevelt groups are taking America towards war. Roosevelt denounced him for the same following which Lindbergh resigned his commission.

The non-involvement policy of Lindbergh changed when the Japanese attacked the Pearl Harbor. He tried to reenlist but request was refused. He then served the Ford Motor Company and United Aircraft Corporation as a technical adviser and test pilot.

50 Combat Missions

In April 1944, he visited pacific war area to the United States Army and Navy. Despite being a civilian, he flew 50 combat missions. He even learned cruise control techniques which enhanced the capabilities of American fighter planes.

Once the war was over, he withdrew public attention. He started working as a consultant to the chief of staff of the US Air Force. The commission of Lindbergh was restored by the president Dwight D. Eisenhower and appointed him as Brigadier General.

In 1953, Lindbergh published the spirit of St Louis, an account of his transatlantic journey. The book won Pulitzer Prize in 1954.

Conservation Movement

The wide and vast travelling of Lindbergh developed an interest for the cultures of peoples in Africa and Philippines. He even spoke for the conservation movement. He campaigned for the protection of humpback and blue whales which were in danger of extinction. He opposed the development and manufacturing of supersonic planes as they could have adverse effects on the earth’s atmosphere.

Death

On august 26, 1974 Lindbergh died of cancer in his house on the Hawaiian island of Maui. He was interred on the grounds of Palapala ho’omau church. A collection of his writing was published in 1978 as “The Autobiography of Values”.

Facts about Charles Lindbergh

Popular Name: Charles Lindbergh

Original Name: Charles Augustus Lindbergh

Nickname: Slim, Lucky Lindy and The Lone Eagle, The Dingo, Nighthawk

Country: United States

Nationality: American

Religion: Lutheran

Born: 4th February 1902, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Died: 26th August 1974 (at the age of 72), Kipahulu, Maui, Hawaii, U.S.

Cause of death: Lymphoma

Resting place: 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)

Occupation:

  • Aviator
  • Author
  • Inventor
  • Explorer
  • Social activist

Wife: Anne Morrow Lindbergh (m. 1929)

Children:

  • Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr.
  • Jon Lindbergh
  • Land Morrow Lindbergh
  • Anne Spencer Lindbergh (Perrin)
  • Scott Lindbergh
  • Reeve Lindbergh (Brown)
  • Dyrk Hesshaimer
  • Astrid Hesshaimer Bouteuil
  • David Hesshaimer
  • Vago Hesshaimer
  • Christoph Hesshaimer

Father: Charles August Lindbergh

Mother: Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh

Place of burial: Kipahulu, Maui, Hawaii

Allegiance: United States

Service/branch:

  • United States Army Air Service Reserve
  • United States Army Air Corps Reserve
  • United States Air Force Reserve

Years of service:

  • 1925-26 (USAASR)
  • 1926–1941(USAACR)
  • 1954–1974 (USAFR)

Rank: Brigadier General

Awards:

  • Medal of Honor
  • Congressional Gold Medal
  • Pulitzer Prize
  • Orteig Prize
  • Legion of Honour (France)
  • Air Force Cross (UK)
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (US)