Charles Lindbergh life and biography

Charles Lindbergh picture, image, poster

Charles Lindbergh biography

Date of birth : 1902-02-04
Date of death : 1974-08-26
Birthplace : Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arhitecture and Engineering
Last modified : 2010-05-03
Credited as : Aviator and inventor, Medal of Honor, The Lone Eagle

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Charles Augustus Lindbergh (February 4, 1902 – August 26, 1974) was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.

Lindbergh, then a 25-year old U.S. Air Mail pilot, emerged from virtual obscurity to almost instantaneous world fame as the result of his Orteig Prize-winning solo non-stop flight on May 20–21, 1927, from Roosevelt Field located in Garden City on New York's Long Island to Le Bourget Field in Paris, France, a distance of nearly 3,600 statute miles, in the single-seat, single-engine monoplane Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh, a U.S. Army reserve officer, was also awarded the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his historic exploit.

Known as Lucky Lindy and The Lone Eagle, Charles Lindbergh became internationally famous as the first man to complete a solo transatlantic flight from Long Island, New York to Paris, France. What is not widely known is that Lindbergh also led an interesting political and environmental career where he would use his competitive fervor to gain public attention on a variety of international issues.

Born in Michigan, but growing up in Minnesota, Lindbergh had a special attraction to machinery and to flight. He began studying mechanical engineering but quit to follow his dreams of becoming a pilot of his own plane. After a short stint as a stunt pilot, Lindbergh joined the Arm Air Service. Soon after, he would fly airmail with Robertson Aircraft from Missouri to Chicago.

While he was known to pilot in any conditions, he did not gain international fame until his solo flight in a plane called The Spirit of St. Louis. When he arrived in Paris, he was greeted as an international hero and icon for both the French and American people. He was awarded the French Legion of Honor and when he returned to the United States, he was awarded the Flying Cross.

With his success, the aviation industry found new energy and financing into building planes for longer flights. Lindbergh’s success in using less fuel, traveling at higher altitudes, and crossing over the northern hemisphere would set the precedent for aviation in both the US and Europe.

After the abduction and killing of Lindbergh’s infant son, sparking controversy across the United States, the Lindbergh family moved to Europe where he worked with some German aviation companies. He was the only American allowed to see Germany’s slick new bombers and even piloted them on test flights.

With the advent of World War II, Lindbergh wanted the United States to remain neutral against Germany. He thought the war with Germany was worthless, that Germany could not be stopped, and communism would eventually spread to the U.S. due to the rising power of the Soviets. He did not support the Nazis or their regime and reported anything he learned about German aviation to the Americans. He also saw the Soviets as a threat to the American way of life.

Later in his life, Lindberg worked for the preservation of the native people of Hawaii and fought for the protection of whales. He also set up organizations to help people in lesser-developed continents, namely in Africa, and he believed technology should work hand-in-hand and not contrary to nature.

Lindbergh spent his final years on the Hawaiian island of Maui, where he died of lymphoma on August 26, 1974 at age 72. 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". The inscription further reads: "...If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea... C.A.L."

Honors and tributes

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 such replica 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" has been displayed there. San Diego's Lindbergh Field, which is also known as San Diego International Airport, was named after him and also displays a replica of the San Diego built Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis. The airport in Winslow, Arizona has also 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. Among the many airports and air facilities that bear his name, the airport in Little Falls, Minnesota, where he grew up, has been named Little Falls/Morrison County-Lindbergh Field.

The original The Spirit of St. Louis currently resides in the National Air and Space Museum as part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

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, the students are known as the Flyers, and the school's marching band holds the title of the Spirit of St. Louis Marching Band. 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 Charles A. Lindbergh State Park. The Lindberghs donated their farmstead to the state to be used as a park in memory of Lindbergh's father. The original Lindbergh residence is maintained as a museum, the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site, and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.

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

On May 2, 2002, Lindbergh's grandson, Erik Lindbergh, celebrated the 75th anniversary of the pioneering 1927 flight of the Spirit of Ft. Louis by duplicating the journey in a single engine, two seat Lancair Columbia 200. The younger Lindbergh's solo flight from Republic Airport on Long Island, to Le Bourget Airport in Paris was completed in 17 hours and 7 minutes, or just a little more than half the time of his grandfather's 33.5 hour original hop.

After his transatlantic 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.

In February 2002 the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston, within the celebrations for the Lindbergh 100th birthday established the Lindbergh-Carrel Prize, given to major contributors to "development of perfusion and bioreactor technologies for organ preservation and growth". M. E. DeBakey and 9 other scientists received the prize, a bronze statuette espressly created for the event by the Italian artist C. Zoli and named "Elisabeth" after Elisabeth Morrow, sister of Lindbergh's wife Anne Morrow, died as a result of heart disease. Lindbergh in fact was disappointed that contemporary medical technology could not provide an artificial heart pump which would allow for heart surgery on her and that gave the occasion for the first contact between Carrel and Lindbergh.

Awards and decorations

Lindbergh received many awards, medals and decorations, most of which were later donated 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.

United States Awards

- Medal of Honor (1927)
- Distinguished Flying Cross (1927)
- Congressional Gold Medal (1928)
- Hubbard Medal (1927)
- Honorary Scout (USA, 1927)
- Silver Buffalo Award (USA)
- Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy (1949)
- Daniel Guggenheim Medal (1953)
- Pulitzer Prize (1954)

Non-US Awards

- Legion of Honor (France, 1927)
- Royal Air Force Cross (UK)
- Service Cross of the German
- Eagle (Verdienstorden vom Deutschen Adler') (Germany Deutsches Reich, 1938)
- Official Royal Air Force Museum Medal (UK)
- Fédération Aéronautique Internationale FAI Gold Medal (1927)
- ICAO Edward Warner Award (International Civil Aviation Organization - ICAO, 1975)

Medal of Honor

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

Until World War II, the Medal of Honor was also authorized to be awarded for extraordinarily heroic actions by active or reserve service members made during peacetime as well as in combat.

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