Happy Birthday Lucky Lindy!
Happy Birthday Lucky Lindy!
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902, in Detroit, Michigan.
The son of a U.S. Congressman and a chemistry teacher, Lindbergh moved a lot during his childhood, spending time in Little Falls, Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Redondo Beach, California.
“Lucky Lindy” began his aviation career at the age of 20, after he left the University of Wisconsin to enroll in flight school. Soon he was a barnstormer, offering plane rides for $5 a person and performing as a stunt pilot at fairs. In 1924 Lindbergh began a year of military flight training with the U.S. Army Air Service. He went on to graduate first in his class and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Service Reserve Corps.
At the time, the military didn’t need active duty pilots, so Lindbergh found more work as a barnstormer and flight instructor. Then in October 1925, he was hired to plan and fly the 278-mile Contract Air Mail Route from St. Louis to Chicago. During this service there were two occasions when bad weather or equipment failure forced him to abandon the plane, though he always recovered the mail and ensured it reached its destination.
Since 1919, a New York City hotel owner, Raymond Orteig, had offered a $25,000 reward to the first pilot to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. Several pilots attempted to earn this prize, but all failed – some were injured or even killed. In 1927, this unclaimed prize came to Lindbergh’s attention. He believed the trip was possible with the right plane.
Lindbergh convinced a group of St. Louis businessmen to give him the financial support he needed to build a special airplane of his own design. He named the plane the Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh’s plane was so heavy with fuel it barely cleared the telephone lines to begin the daring flight.
On May 20, 1927, at 7:52 a.m., Lindbergh took off in the Spirit of St. Louis from Roosevelt Field, located near New York City. His only tools were a compass, an airspeed indicator, and his own navigational skills.
Thirty-three-and-a-half hours later, Lindbergh landed near Paris at Bourget Field. A huge crowd of 100,000 people rushed onto the runway to meet him. The next day, another crowd formed outside the American Embassy where he was staying, cheering and waving hats and handkerchiefs. Lindbergh received the Legion of Honor Medal from the President of France, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by U.S. President Coolidge. Lindbergh’s daring flight made him an international celebrity and a respected authority on aviation.
Within two months of his return, Lindbergh published an autobiography and embarked on an extensive U.S. and Latin American tour. Lindbergh’s fame and promotion of aviation led to a vast increase in flight. The amount of airmail sent doubled, pilots’ licenses tripled, and the number of planes produced quadrupled.
Following the kidnapping and death of his son, Lindbergh, bothered by the unrelenting public attention, whisked his family away to Europe. They remained there for three years before returning to the U.S. at the request of General “Hap” Arnold. As the war in Europe loomed, the American government requested that Lindbergh use his fame to visit European countries and assess the readiness of both Axis and Allied powers. Upon his return to the U.S., Lindbergh concluded that America should not get involved in the war. He then joined the America First Movement, which sought to keep the nation out of the war.
However, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Lindbergh wanted to help his country and continually asked President Franklin Roosevelt to reinstate his commission in the Air Corps. Franklin turned him down, questioning his politics. Instead, Lindbergh joined Henry Ford as a technical advisor, trouble-shooting technical problems with the planes he was manufacturing for the war effort.
In 1944, Lindbergh went to the Pacific Theater as a consultant for United Aircraft Company. While there, he showed Marine pilots how to safely take off with twice the payload the planes were designed for. He also showed them how to decrease their fuel use. Though he was still a civilian, Lindbergh flew his first of 50 combat missions on May 21. However, the military commanders feared the consequence of a civilian pilot getting hurt in action and forced him to return home. He returned to the U.S. the following September. One of the U.S. generals in the Pacific said, “Lindbergh’s contributions shortened the war by several months…” During his service there, Lindbergh shot down at least one Japanese plane. But perhaps his most lasting contributions were his suggestions on fuel conservation, which allowed for extended long-distance missions.
After the war, Lindbergh moved to Darien, Connecticut where he worked as a consultant to the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force as well as Pan American World Airways. In his later years, Lindbergh launched several campaigns to protect endangered species. He then moved to Hawaii, where he died on August 26, 1974.
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11 responses to "Happy Birthday Lucky Lindy! "
11 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Lucky Lindy! ”
Might want to research using term “Congressional” with Medal of Honor.
Well said. The two terms no longer go together. The MOH is a military award, not a political one..
Growing up we always called it the Congressional Medal of Honor. Unless that was a different medal than the Medal of Honor used today. But why was he awarded it just because he flew across the ocean in peacetime when the four chaplains who died on a ship sunk by a German U-boat during World War II were denied the award “because they hadn’t died in battle” as stated in the Four Chaplain’s Day article?
It seems that reference as a Congressional medal is appropriate. Research it.
“Because the medal is presented “in the name of Congress”, it is often referred to as the “Congressional Medal of Honor”. However, the official name is “Medal of Honor”, which began with the U.S. Army’s version. Within United States Code the medal is referred to as the “Medal of Honor”, and less frequently as “Congressional Medal of Honor”.”
“The Medal of Honor is the United States of America’s highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. The medal is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress to U.S. military personnel only.”
Lindy must have still been considered military even though this wasn’t a military event and did not involve military action with an enemy..
I’m sure Charles Lindberg was a great guy, but question why he would receive the Medal of Honor; considering what others have done to get the medal. I just don’t see flying across the Atlantic as qualifying; the U.S. Medal of Freedom perhaps, but not the Medal of Honor.
Back then you would have thought it was worthy. Again, 21st century mind set trying to analyze early 20th century accomplishments. May I remind everyone that at the time no one had done what he did. He took off in a flying gas tank, by himself with no GPS and no land marks over the Atlantic Ocean and did it. It was big stuff and you who can jump on a large commercial jet at your whim and go anywhere any time, fail to understand what Lindbergh did. To you maybe he didn’t deserve it, but back then they did. I often wonder what critics without facts and only opinions did. Nothing except critcize.
Using the term “Congressional” with Medal of Honor is actually appropriate, and commonly used historically. Yes, technically – according to the U.S. Code, it is “the Medal of Honor”. However, the Medal of Honor is awarded by the President of the United States “in honor of/on behalf of the Congress” historically. I have always (for the past 75 years) heard it referred to as “The Congressional Medal of Honor” by the media, and by the White House, and by many Government Agencies, including the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Usages in terminology do change over time; but historical usages are nonetheless valid..
Lindbergh was without doubt a great pilot and aviation pioneer, but this article glosses over his pre World War II statements and his involvement with the “America First Committee.” It is a matter of record that when addressing large gatherings, this American hero made anti-Semitic and racist statements, praised Nazi Germany, and made excuses for German aggressions in the late 1930’s and after the war in Europe began. After the World War began in Europe, he steadfastly opposed the rearmament of America and any kind to aid to Great Britain which stood alone against Nazi Germany. He would have done better to stick to aviation and stayed out of politics.
Remember that in 1927, people generally believed that the Great War (WWI), barely ten years earlier, was actually the “War to End All Wars,” and that there would be no more wars (wishful thinking). Therefore I believe the government was justified in awarding Lindbergh the CMOH. After all, his flight was a very dangerous undertaking.
I also agree that the Four Chaplains were deserving of the CMOH. Their actions were clearly above and beyond the cll of duty.
I had always heard of the two highest honors as the Congressional Medal of Honor (military) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (civilian).
Seems everybody has tuned into the “c”moh. Thanks to that movie about the first woman considered for the MOH.
I live in Hana Hi and He’s buried in the Church yard in Kipahulu. I’ve seen so many people who ask for that location more than any other feature in Maui. He was bigger than Bono, Beyonce and Elvis put together.
His real contribution was scouting International routes for Pan Am and after Juan Trip was
replaced by Sam Prior- his good drinking buddy; he’s also buried nearby with his 4 “monkeys”.
Although the original tombstone was replaced by the family, the existing still read:
MAY HIS WINGS ALL WAYS FLY IN THE WILD BLUE YONDER.and so it should be.
He helped the mission( as explained on how to conserve fuel, ect,) of the 7 P-38’s that shot down Yamamoto. He and Howard Hughes developed the 27 foot machine gun belt in those planes; thus the expression “the whole nine yards”
There are so many great stamps and covers of his exploits. thanks Mystic.
Great article, interesting comments and I found out where the expression, the whole nine yards came from. Thanks for that Ed D’Andrea.