Was Lindbergh the first to fly across the Atlantic?
At 7:52am on May 20, 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off to begin his and the world’s first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Furthermore, he was the first to connect the United States with the European mainland. It was a rainy and gray overcast morning as Lindbergh, an airmail pilot and Army Reserve Officer, took off from Roosevelt Airfield in Garden City, Long Island.
To read about the first transatlantic flight see our piece: What was the first plane to cross the Atlantic?
He embarked on the flight as a part of a global competition, the winner of which would receive $25,000.
Lindbergh’s aircraft, a Ryan NYP, single seat, single engine monoplane purpose built to attempt this feat. Originally built for 5, the 4 extra passenger seats were replaced by extra fuel tanks.
Known as the Spirit of St. Louis, the aircraft received its name as a tribute to the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, which was Lindbergh’s major sponsor.
After taking off that morning, Lindbergh flew his plane northeast, sticking close to the American coastline before heading out over Newfoundland and later the North Atlantic. For more than thirty-three hours the voyage lasted, and Lindbergh faced many challenges including icing, dense fog, and worst of all a lack of sleep.
He apparently had to use his hands to pry open his eyelids and even dealt with hallucinations as a result of the grueling trip.
By the time the voyage was over, Lindbergh had flown 3,600 statute miles, finally landing at Le Bourget field in Paris, France on May 21, 1927. 150,000 people waited at the airfield to meet him.
Upon landing, the crowd dragged Lindbergh from the cockpit by the crowd and paraded him around for nearly thirty minutes. Celebrations were held in his honor in both Europe and the United States. And lastly he was awarded the US Medal of Honor.
However, Lindbergh was both a racist and Nazi sympathizer.
In addition he went to Germany multiple times and considered moving his family there in 1938
Lindbergh would receive The Service Cross of the German Eagle for his contributions to aviation on behalf of Hitler. He wore the medal proudly to the disgust of Americans across the country. Furthermore, he actively campaigned against US involvement in WWII:
“We, the heirs of European culture, are on the verge of a disastrous war, a war within our own family of nations, a war which will reduce the strength and destroy the treasures of the white race, a war which may even lead to the end of our civilization. And while we stand poised for battle, oriental guns are turning westward, Asia presses towards us on the Russian border, all foreign races stir restlessly. It is time to turn from our quarrels and to build our white ramparts again.”
“We can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races.”
A quote of Lindbergh’s from Readers Digest in 1939.
He would join the “America First Committee” as their principal spokesperson where he would say:
“The three most important groups who have been pressing this country toward war are the British, the Jewish and the Roosevelt administration.”
“Instead of agitating for war, Jews in this country should be opposing it in every way. For they will be the first to feel its consequences. Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio and our government.”
“The organized vitality of Germany was what most impressed me, the unceasing activity of the people. And the convinced dictatorial direction to create the new factories, airfields, and research laboratories.”
In conclusion, sadly, he was a “gold-digger” and serial adulterer. Moreover, he chose his wife for her wealth and would father 7 children by 3 different German women. In addition to the 5 he had with his wife in the US.
Lindbergh spent the last several years of his life in Hawaii. He died of cancer in 1974 at age 72 and is buried in Kipahulu on the island of Maui.
See our piece: What was the first plane to cross the Atlantic?