AvStop Magazine Online
One of the most important achievements in aviation history was a flight that was made by Charles Lindbergh. In May 1927, Charles Lindbergh few 3,610 miles nonstop from New Your to Paris in just under 34 hours in his single engine Ryan NYP monoplane the Spirit of St. Louis. Charles Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan on February 4, 1902. When he was very young, his family moved to a farm in central Minnesota near a town called Little Falls. His father was a United States congressman and his mother taught chemistry at the high school.
Charles liked living the outdoor life in Minnesota. He helped with the farming and enjoyed swimming in the Mississippi river. Whenever his father was home from Washington D.C., he and Charles would go hunting. Young Charles was fascinated by the sight of airplanes. They were a new invention then and a thrill to see. As a child, Charles was especially interested in mechanics. By age nine, he knew all about gasoline engines. At age eleven, his parents put him in charge of driving and fixing their car. Charles was already an excellent mechanic. In high school he helped with the farm and even built a tractor from a mail order kit.
When Charles was in college, he heard about a school in Nebraska that taught people how to fly and repair airplanes. With his parents permission, he packed up his motorcycle and went to learn how to fly. Flying had everything he liked: being outdoors, adventure, and mechanics. After school in Nebraska he enrolled in the U.S. Army flight school to become a professional pilot. He learned that becoming a professional pilot meant more than flying an airplane well. It also meant studying and getting good grades. At first his grades weren't so good. Afraid that he might fail, he began studying during every spare moment. He even studied in th bathroom at night when he was supposed to be in bed. His hard work paid off. He graduated with the highest grades in his class. Charles was now a professional pilot.
His first job as a professional pilot was flying a route between St.
Louis and Chicago delivering mail to the towns along the way. This was
not an easy job. He flew through terrible weather and landed at towns that
didn't have an airport or a runway. While he was working at this job, he
heard about a contest to see who could be the first pilot to fly across
the Atlantic ocean between New York and Paris. This was a big challenge
to pilots and airplane makers. There had been many attempts so far, but
no successes. In fact, six pilots had already died trying. Charles began
thinking, how far was it from New York to Paris?
Charles decided to enter the contest. First he had to find a company that would build a plane for him. He believed the best plane for a trip like this would be a one person, single engine airplane. The airplane companies disagreed with him. It was too dangerous. How could anyone fly that far with only one engine? Charles kept searching. Finally, he found a company named Ryan that would build a plane for him. When the plane was ready, Charles was ready too. He packed a canteen of water, sandwiches, maps, and charts.
Charles flew and flew and flew. He was so tired that he had to hold his eyes open to stay awake. After 33.5 hours of flying he spotted Paris. He landed to the cheers of a roaring crowd. Charles was the first person to cross the Atlantic ocean alone in an airplane. After Charles had several days to rest, President Coolidge sent a U.S. Navy ship to bring Charles and the plane home. In New York, millions of people gathered to welcome Charles home and celebrate his success. Charles continued to have many more adventures as a pilot. To read more about him, you may want to visit a library or bookstore. The plane he flew, named the Spirit of St. Louis, is now in the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C. Models of his plane can be seen in various airports throughout the country including: Minneapolis, Minnesota; Lincoln, Nebraska; St. Louis, Missouri; and Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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