Flashback Friday: Charles A. Lindbergh begins famous 33 1/2-hour transatlantic flight to Paris
During this week in 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh, from Little Falls, became a world-famous aviator after completing the first nonstop, solo transatlantic flight to Paris, according to the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS).
Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan, but grew up outside of Little Falls on a 110-acre farm on the banks of the Mississippi River.
According to the MHS, Lindbergh went to college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, but after three semesters, dropped out and enrolled at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation's flying school.
In 1919, while still in flying school, Raymond Orteig, a French businessman, offered a $25,000 prize to the first team to fly nonstop between New York, New York and Paris, France.
MHS stated that after Lindbergh learned of the prize, he began to plan a flight to Paris.
Lindbergh discussed his idea with St. Louis businessmen and aviation supporters who pooled their resources to provide him with the funding to purchase an airplane that could make the transatlantic flight.
Photo Credit: The Minnesota Historical Society; Photos of Charles A. Lindbergh standing next to his plane.
By 1924, Lindbergh enrolled in Army Flying School, where he graduated at the top of his class.
By the time Lindbergh was ready for his flight, six well-known aviators had already lost their lives in pursuit of the Orteig Prize. Even with that news, Lindbergh still wanted to set the record.
By May 20, 1927, Lindbergh broke the record, according to MHS.
At 7:52 a.m., after loading the plane with 450 gallons of gasoline, Lindbergh climbed into the cockpit and gave the go ahead to takeoff. He landed at Le Bourget Field, just outside of Paris, 33 1/2 hours later.
After coming back home, Lindbergh was touring the United States, Central and South America when he met his wife, Anne Morrow, in Mexico. She was the daughter of the U.S Ambassador. They married in 1926.
According to MHS, tragedy struck with the Lindberghs in March 1932 when their first-born son, 20-month-old Charlie, was kidnapped from the family's home in New Jersey. The child’s body was found two months after he was taken. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was arrested for the crime in 1934 and convicted the following year.
Following World War II, Lindbergh served on the board of directors for Pan American Airways and developed a passion for protecting the environment. He wrote The Spirit of St. Louis, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for autobiography in 1954.
He died in Hawaii on August 26, 1974.