Lone Eagle: The Flight of Charles Lindbergh
Written December 22, 2003
Flying has always been one of my main interests. At the University of Wisconsin, which I entered at age eighteen, I studied engineering, but I was really more interested in studying the field of aviation.
The year before I entered college, 1919, a New York hotel owner named Raymond Orteig offered a prize of $25,000 to the first pilot to successfully complete a nonstop flight from New York to Paris. By 1927, the prize was still unclaimed. Six people had tried before, but all failed. I decided to make an attempt at this flight.
First of all, I needed a plane. My plane differed from those of preivious attempts. Most planes had multiple engines, but mine was single-engined. I had my plane made by Ryan Airlines in San Diego. The total cost was $10,580. I paid for part of it, but the rest was contributed by a group of businessmen in St. Louis. I named my plane The Spirit of St. Louis in their honor.
The completed plane was silver with extended wings and an added periscope. I tested my plane on May 10 and 11 by flying from San Diego to New York with an overnight stop in St. Louis.
The big day came on May 20, 1927. When I arrived in New York, people didn’t give me a chance. I was called “the flying fool” by newspapers.
I brought with me five sandwiches and 451 gallons of fuel. I had no radio, parachute, or map. I climbed into the plane’s cockpit wearing my heavy flying suit. By then, I had already been awake for thirty hours. The day wasn’t too pretty, either. The sky was gray, and it was a bad day for flying. All the other planes in Roosevelt Field were tied down.
At 7:54 AM, I began to speed down the runway. I got a little more nervous when I realized that there were telephone lines at the end of the runway, but I cleared them by twenty feet.
From there, I flew northeast toward Nova Scotia. Then I headed to Newfoundland. I flew over the North Atlantic and aimed for Ireland.
Flying at night was hard. It was like a guessing game since I didn’t have gear for flying nights.
I remember one afternoon when I could see a boat with people in it. I descended, and I almost touched the boat.
“Am I going the right way to Ireland?” I shouted. The people just stared at me. Maybe they couldn’t hear me, or I didn’t hear them. They could’ve thought I was crazy.
About an hour later, I saw some rocky land. From my studies, I thought it was Ireland, and it was! I was almost at my goal. It was dusk when I reached France.
Before landing at Le Bourget Field, I circled the Eiffel Tower. Floodlights lit up the place, and cars filled the road to the airport.
I landed at 10:22 PM. I completed my 3,600 mile journey in thirty-three and a half hours at the age of twenty-five. My mind was ablaze with noise, terrific noise, oceans of upturned faces and an electric sort of feeling that can hardly be described.
I am Charles Augustus Lindbergh, and I am the first person to successfully fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. I may have won $25,000. I may have won the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Flying Cross from President Calvin Coolidge. However, the true sense of success is the joy and excitement that I can still feel of the cheering French carrying me off Le Bourget Field.
27 Oct 2003. http://www.allstar.flu.edu/aerojava/lindbergh2.htm
13 Nov 2003. http://www.acepilots.com/lindbergh.html
13 Nov 2003. http://www.pbs.org/kcet/chasingthesun/innovators/clindbergh.html
Hanson, Erica. A Cultural History of the United States Through the Decades: The 1920s. San Diego: Lucent Books, 1993.
Napols, Tony. Our Century 1920-1930. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens, 1993.
Ranfranz, Patrick. “Charles Lindbergh Biography.” 13 Nov 2003. http://www.charleslindbergh.com/history/index.asp
Sharman, Margaret. Take Ten Years: 1920s. Austin: Stech-Vaughn, 1993.