Charles Lindbergh is one of the most well-known pilots of all time. He jumped out of planes and even stood on the wings as the planes flew. Charles’ love of adventure is what eventually led him to be the one of the most famous pilots in history.
The childhood and early days of Charles Lindbergh
Charles was born in February of 1902 in Detroit, Michigan. He came from a respectable family as his mother was a teacher and his father was a congressman. The family had a farm in Minnesota where Charles spent most of his childhood. From an early age, Charles was an adventurous child who liked the outdoors and playing exciting games. However, games on the ground were not enough for him as he always wished to be able to fly.
After finishing high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin only to drop out two years later to pursue his dream of flying. First, he worked as an airplane mechanic before learning how to fly planes. After getting his flying lessons, he worked for a while as a barnstormer and traveled to many places performing air shows and giving people plane rides.
Military flying training
When he was 22 years old, Charles Lindbergh decided to officially learn how to fly a military plane. He joined the Army Air Service and received the proper training. After his graduation from training, he started working as a mail delivery pilot. It may seem like an easy thing to do, but back in the day, it was very risky since there were no advanced navigation tools. For example, pilots would not know when or where they would face a storm, so it made every flight a risky one.
The big prize
At the beginning of the 1920’s, a $25,000 prize called the Orteig Prize was promised to any pilot who was able to fly directly from New York City to Paris, France without stopping. Charles Lindbergh dreamt of winning this prize similar to how he dreamt as a boy of becoming a pilot.
In the year 1927, no one had successfully completed this flight and several pilots lost their lives while trying. Charles was so sure that with the right plane, he would be able to make it and win that prize. The only problem was that the plane he needed was very expensive to build. He started talking with multiple businessmen in order to get one of them to fund his special plane.
Finally, he was able to get a loan from the bank and with the addition of all of his life savings he was able to build the plane which he named “The Spirit of St. Louis.”
In May 1927, Charles Lindbergh boarded the Spirit of St. Louis and took off for Paris. For thirty three and a half hours, Charles went through storms, ice, and fog on his way to Paris. He depended on a compass and the stars to mark his way. Most importantly, he had to keep himself awake for over thirty three hours as he was all by himself on this plane. At last, Charles Lindbergh successfully landed in Paris and became known from then on as the first man to fly directly across the Atlantic.
Upon his return to New York, Charles was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by President Calvin Coolidge and a huge celebration was waiting for him in the streets of the city.
Lindbergh participated in World War II as a military pilot and served in about 50 combat missions. He also helped the Air Force test planes. In 1974, Charles Lindbergh died of cancer after living a full and happy life.