American aviator Charles Lindbergh became famous after making the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He was criticized for insisting that the United States should not become involved in World War II.
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902, in Detroit, Michigan, the only child of Charles August Lindbergh and Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh. His father was a congressman from Minnesota from 1907 to 1917, and his grandfather had been secretary to the King of Sweden. Lindbergh spent a great deal of time alone while young, with animals and then machines to keep him company. After attending schools in Little Falls, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., Lindbergh enrolled in a mechanical engineering program at the University of Wisconsin.
Lindbergh became bored with studying; he was more interested in cars and motorcycles at this point. He left Wisconsin to study airplane flying in Lincoln, Nebraska, from 1920 to 1922. He made his first solo flight in 1923 and thereafter made exhibition flights and short trips in the Midwest. He enrolled in the U.S. Air Service Reserve as a cadet in 1924 and graduated the next year. In 1926 he made his first flight as an airmail pilot between Chicago, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri.
Lindbergh wanted to compete for the $25 thousand prize that a man named Raymond Orteig had posted for the first person to make a nonstop flight between New York and Paris, France. With money put up by several St. Louis businessmen, Lindbergh had a plane called the Spirit of St. Louis built. On the first lap of his flight to New York, he traveled nonstop to St. Louis in fourteen hours and twenty-five minutes—record-breaking time from the West Coast.
On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off in his silver-winged monoplane (a plane with only one supporting surface) from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, bound for an airport outside Paris. Better-equipped and better-known aviators had failed; some had even crashed to their death. But Lindbergh succeeded. He arrived on May 21, having traveled 2,610 miles in thirty-three and one-half hours. He immediately became a hero and received many honors and decorations, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, the French Chevalier Legion of Honor, the Royal Air Cross (British), and the Order of Leopold (Belgium). During a tour of seventy-five American cities sponsored by the Daniel Guggenheim Foundation for the Promotion of Aeronautics, he was greeted by wild demonstrations of praise.
In December 1927 Lindbergh flew nonstop between Washington and Mexico City, Mexico, and went on a goodwill trip to the Caribbean and Central America. During one tour he met Anne Spencer Morrow, the daughter of the U.S. ambassador (representative) to Mexico. They were married in 1929. The Lindberghs made many flights together. In 1931 they flew to Asia, mapping air routes to China. Two years later, in a 30,000-mile flight, they explored possible air routes across oceans.
In March 1932 the Lindberghs were shaken when their infant son was kidnapped. A $50,000 ransom was paid, but the baby was found dead. The nation's concern and horror resulted in laws that expanded the role of federal law-enforcement agencies in dealing with such crimes, including allowing the government to demand the death penalty for kidnappers who take victims across state lines.
The Lindberghs moved to Europe after the execution of their son's murderer in 1935. While in France Lindbergh worked with Alexis Carrel (1873–1944), an American surgeon (medical specialist who performs operations) and experimental biologist who had won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1912. The two men perfected an "artificial heart and lungs," a pump that could keep organs alive outside the body by supplying blood and air to them.
Criticized for political opinions
In the late 1930s Lindbergh conducted various studies of air power in Europe. He toured German aviation centers at the invitation of Nazi (a political party that controlled Germany from 1933–45 and that attempted to rid the country of Jewish people) leader Hermann Göring (1893–1946), becoming convinced that the Nazi military was unbeatable. Also in the 1930s Lindbergh was on the Board of Directors of Pan-American World Airways. In 1939 he studied American airplane production as special adviser on technical matters. He also performed promotional work for aviation during this period.
Just prior to World War II (1939–45; a war fought between the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan and the Allies of England, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States), as a member of the America First Organization, Lindbergh warned that United States involvement could not prevent a German victory. He was criticized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) for radio broadcasts urging America not to fight in "other people's wars." As a result, Lindbergh resigned his commission in the U.S. Air Force. After Japan attacked the United States in 1941, Lindbergh supported the American effort, serving as a technician for aircraft companies. After the war he once again became a technical adviser for the U.S. Air Force, and eventually he was again commissioned a brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve.
Lindbergh's association with the Nazis had severely damaged his reputation, but the popularity of the books he and his wife wrote helped restore some of what he had lost. Lindbergh wrote several accounts of his famous 1927 flight. We (1927) and The Spirit of St. Louis (1953), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for biography, are descriptions of his early life and accomplishments. With Carrel he coauthored Culture of Organs (1938), and in 1948 he wrote Of Flight and Life.
Lindbergh's later works included The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (1970) and Boyhood on the Upper Mississippi: A Reminiscent Letter (1972). An Autobiography of Values (1977) was published after his death. Toward the end of his life Lindbergh grew increasingly interested in the spiritual world and spoke out on environmental issues. He spent his final years with his wife in a house they had built on a remote portion of the island of Maui. He died there on August 26, 1974.
After her husband's death, Anne Morrow Lindbergh continued to publish books of her diaries and letters. She retired to Darien, Connecticut, where a series of strokes weakened her. In 1992 she discovered that a woman whom her children had hired to manage her affairs was stealing money from her. The state of Connecticut joined with the Lindbergh children in pressing charges against the woman.
For more information
Bak, Richard. Lindbergh: Triumph and Tragedy. Dallas: Taylor, 2000.
Giblin, James. Charles A. Lindbergh: A Human Hero. New York: Clarion Books, 1997.
Kent, Zachary. Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis. Parsippany, NJ: New Discovery Books, 1998.
Lindbergh, Charles A. The Spirit of St. Louis. New York: Scribner, 1953. Reprint, 1998.
Mosley, Leonard. Lindbergh: A Biography. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976.
Young and handsome, modest and daring, Charles Lindbergh was probably the first mass-media celebrity. After performing the amazing feat of flying solo from New York to Paris, France, in his small airplane in 1927, Lindbergh became an international hero, adored by millions and hounded by the press. Lindbergh gained fame not only for his flight, but because he represented qualities of adventurous boldness that were highly valued during the 1920s. It was a time of new achievements and modern inventions, and, by flying across the Atlantic Ocean, Lindbergh had opened up a new world of possibilities.
Lindbergh was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1902. His father, a lawyer, and his mother, a science teacher, raised him in the small farm community of Little Falls, Minnesota, where young Charles learned independence very early. He began driving an automobile at the age of eleven and later dropped out of the University of Wisconsin to learn to fly airplanes. He loved flying and soon had a job flying mail from St. Louis, Missouri, to Chicago, Illinois. In 1927, when a New York hotel owner offered $25,000 to the first pilot to fly alone across the Atlantic, Lindbergh was determined at once to try. On May 21, 1927, he took five sandwiches and a bottle of water in his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, and took off from New York's Roosevelt Field.
Lindbergh had sought to win money and fame for his accomplishment, but he had no idea what awaited him. When he landed, thirty-three hours later, in Le Bourget field in Paris, over 150,000 people had gathered to greet him. From that moment on he was a public figure, and newly created forms of mass media gave Lindbergh a kind of fame that no public figure had seen before. When Lindbergh returned to the United States, President Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) presented him with medals. Millionaire Harry Guggenheim (1890–1971) paid for Lindbergh to fly his plane on a three-month tour of the United States, where he visited 48 states and gave 149 speeches in 92 cities. He was the hero of dozens of parades. Crowds followed him wherever he went. Admirers copied his clothes; his flight started a fad of wearing leather jackets and loose aviator pants. A popular new fast dance was called the "Lindy hop," because it made the dancers feel like they were flying. Several U.S. toymakers made "Lucky Lindy" dolls that looked like Lindbergh. When he married Anne Morrow (1906–2001) in 1929, reporters in motorboats followed them on their honeymoon cruise. A shy person, Lindbergh tried to avoid media attention when he could. He refused many offers that could have led to more fame, such as an offer from American newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst (1863–1951) of $500,000 to star in movies.
Lindbergh and Anne continued to fly and to speak in favor of aviation all over the world. People were enchanted by the beautiful young couple and followed their adventures closely. However, the Lindberghs' celebrity had tragic results. In March 1932 their twenty-month-old son, Charles III, was kidnapped, and his dead body was found ten days later. Lindbergh always blamed the constant focus of the press for drawing the kidnapper's attention to his family. The kidnapping and the trial that followed it in 1934 were huge media events, followed closely by people all over the world.
Trying to escape his own fame, Lindbergh spent several years in Europe. He visited Germany frequently, and Hermann Göring (1893–1946), a high Nazi official, presented him with a German medal of honor. When he came back he spoke out against the United States's involvement in World War II (1939–45). Many people thought his speeches were pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish, and Lindbergh's popularity fell dramatically. He did join in the war effort, in the Pacific, where he went as a civilian, or non-military, adviser and managed to fly fifty combat missions.
Lindbergh spent most of the rest of his life quietly with his family, though he continued to fly and to promote air travel. A lifelong inventor, he also helped a doctor friend invent a special pump for use in organ transplants. Lindbergh died of cancer on the island of Maui in Hawaii in 1974.
Charles Augustus Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh (1902-1974), American aviator, made the historic first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
Charles A. Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902, in Detroit, Michigan. His father was a congressman from Minnesota (1907-1917). After attending schools in Little Falls, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., Lindbergh enrolled in a mechanical engineering program at the University of Wisconsin. He left to study flying in Lincoln, Nebraska (1920-1922). He made his first solo flight in 1923 and thereafter made exhibition flights and short hops in the Midwest. He enrolled in the U.S. Air Service Reserve as a cadet in 1924 and graduated the next year. In 1926 he made his first flight as an airmail pilot between Chicago and St. Louis.
Lindbergh wanted to compete for the $25, 000 prize that Raymond Orteig had posted for the first nonstop flight between New York and Paris. With financial backing from St. Louis businessmen, Lindbergh had the Spirit of St. Louis built. On the first lap of his flight to New York, he traveled nonstop to St. Louis in 14 hours and 25 minutes—record-breaking time from the West Coast.
On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off in his silverwinged monoplane from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, bound for Le Bourget Airport outside Paris. Better-equipped and better-known aviators had failed; some had even crashed to their death. But Lindbergh succeeded. He arrived on May 21, having traveled 2, 610 miles in 33 1/2 hours. He was immediately acclaimed a hero and received numerous honors and decorations, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, the French Chevalier Legion of Honor, the Royal Air Cross (British), and the Order of Leopold (Belgium). During a 75-city American tour sponsored by the Daniel Guggenheim Foundation for the Promotion of Aeronautics, he was greeted by wild demonstrations.
In December 1927 Lindbergh flew nonstop between Washington and Mexico City and went on a goodwill trip to the Caribbean and Central America. During one tour he met Anne Spencer Morrow, the daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and married her in 1929. The Lindberghs made many flights together. In 1931 they flew to Asia, mapping air routes to China, and two years later in a 30, 000-mile flight they explored possible trans-oceanic air routes.
In March 1932 tragedy struck the Lindbergh family when their infant son was kidnapped. A $50, 000 ransom was paid, but the baby was found dead. The nation's concern and horror resulted in legislation expanding the role of Federal government law-enforcement agencies in dealing with such crimes, specifically empowering the government to demand the death penalty for kidnapers taking victims across state lines. After the execution of the convicted murderer in 1935, the Lindberghs moved to Europe. While in France, Lindbergh worked with Alexis Carrel, an American surgeon and experimental biologist who in 1912 had won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. The two men perfected an "artificial heart and lungs, " a perfusion pump to keep organs alive outside the body by supplying blood and air to them.
In the late 1930s Lindbergh conducted various air-power surveys in Europe. He toured German aviation centers at the invitation of Nazi leader Hermann Göring and became convinced of Nazi military invincibility. Also in the 1930s he was on the Board of Directors of Pan-American World Airways. In 1939 he surveyed American airplane production as special adviser on technical matters. He performed noteworthy promotional work for aviation during this period.
Just prior to World War II, as a member of the America First Organization, Lindbergh warned that United States involvement could not prevent a German victory. He was criticized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for radio broadcasts urging America to refrain from fighting in "other people's wars." As a result, Lindbergh resigned his commission in the U.S. Air Force. After the Japanese attack in 1941, he supported the American effort, serving as a civilian technician for aircraft companies in several theaters of war. After the war he once again became a technical adviser for the U.S. Air Force and eventually was recommissioned a brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve.
The great aviator's Nazi sympathies severely damaged his reputation in the public eye. But the popularity of his and his wife's books helped restore some of the esteem he had lost due to his infatuation with Hitler. Lindbergh wrote several accounts of his epic-making 1927 flight. We (1927) and The Spirit of St. Louis (1953), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for biography, are interesting and modest summaries of his early life and accomplishments. With Carrel he coauthored Culture of Organs (1938), and in 1948 he wrote Of Flight and Life His later works included The Wartime Journals of Charles A, Lindbergh (1970) and Boyhood on the Upper Mississippi: A Reminiscent Letter (1972). An Autobiography of Values (1977) was published posthumously. Toward the end of his life he grew increasingly interested in the spiritual realm. He also spoke out on environmental issues. He spent his final years with his wife in a house they had built on a remote portion of the island of Maui. He died there on August 26, 1974.
After her husband's death, Anne Morrow Lindbergh continued to publish books of her diaries and letters. She retired to Darien, Connecticut, where a series of strokes sapped her of her faculties. In 1992, she was the victim of an embezzlement scam devised by a woman whom her children had hired to manage her adily affairs. The state of Connecticut joined with the Lindbergh children in pressing charges against the perpetrator.
The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh was published in 1970. An early account of Lindbergh is George B. Fife, Lindbergh: The Lone Eagle (1927). Kenneth S. Davis, The Hero: Charles A. Lindbergh and the American Dream (1959), is informative and provocative and also excellent for Lindbergh's association with the America First Organization. Walter S. Ross, The Last Hero: Charles A. Lindbergh (1968), is a well-documented book, especially informative about the mysterious postkidnaping period of Lindbergh's life in the 1930s. A comprehensive biography, published soon after the famed aviator's death, is Leonard Mosley, Lindbergh: A Biography (1976). A more recent study of the famed aviator is Walter L. Hixson, Charles A. Lindbergh: Lone Eagle (1996). □
Charles A. Lindbergh was the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. He was born in Detroit, Michigan , on February 4, 1902. His father was a five-term U.S. congressman who represented Minnesota . Educated in public and private schools throughout Washington, D.C. , and Minnesota, Lindbergh entered the University of Wisconsin in 1920. He dropped out after two years and entered flying school in Nebraska . With fewer than eight hours of instruction, he began barnstorming (trick flying) with a stunt aviator and made his first parachute jump in 1922.
After serving in the U.S. Army Air Service Reserve, he began flying air mail service between Chicago, Illinois , and St. Louis, Missouri , in 1926. During one of these flights, Lindbergh decided he wanted to join a contest to be the first person to fly nonstop from New York to Paris, France. If he won, he would be awarded $25,000. Lindbergh approached a group of St. Louis businessmen to raise funds for a plane and to pay for expenses. In their honor, he named his plane Spirit of St. Louis.
As part of his preparation for the contest, Lindbergh went through sleep deprivation training. He would stay awake first for twenty-four hours at a time and gradually increased that time to forty hours.
Lindbergh flew to New York and took off for Paris at 7:52 AM on May 20, 1927. Nervousness had prevented him from sleeping the night before the flight, and as he flew over the North Atlantic Ocean, he was plagued with the need to sleep. At one point, he dozed off and awoke to find himself skimming the ocean waves. With no radio onboard, no one back on land knew if he was dead or alive. On May 21, he flew over the southern coast of Ireland and knew he was safe.
Sets a record
Lindbergh landed in Paris after a flight that lasted thirty-three hours, twenty-nine minutes, and thirty seconds. He had flown 3,610 miles (5,810 kilometers) without stopping and instantly became an international hero. He won many awards and was given a ticker-tape parade in New York and St. Louis. Lindbergh toured the United States, traveling to seventy-five cities and visiting with leaders and other important figureheads. On May 27, 1929, he married Ann Morrow. She flew with him to foreign countries to meet with royalty.
Lindbergh was a private man, who did not enjoy his fame. After marrying, he took a job as a technical adviser to an airline and bought property in New Jersey . He and his wife lived there peacefully and welcomed their first child, a son, into the family. In 1932, their world was shattered when baby Charles was kidnapped. The media was relentless in covering the story. The baby's body was found several months later, and an unemployed German immigrant, Bruno Hauptmann (1899–1936), was found guilty and executed.
Escapes to Europe
By 1935, the Lindberghs had other children, but the continuous press interference in their lives made them feel harassed. They moved to England that year in hopes of regaining their privacy. Once overseas, Lindbergh traveled. In 1938 and 1939, he visited Germany, where the Nazi government decorated him. He publicly praised the Nazis for building what he believed was an unbeatable military while criticizing the lack of military readiness by western democracies. When he and his family moved back to the United States in late 1939, he spoke out against America's stance of neutrality (taking no sides) in World War II (1939–45). His comments were perceived as un-American and stirred controversy with the American public as well as U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945; served 1933–45), and he was forced to resign his Air Service Reserve commission.
After Japan attacked the United States in 1941, it became clear that America needed to boost industrial production as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Several automakers, including General Motors and Chrysler, agreed to help build military aircraft. Automaker Henry Ford (1863–1947) of Ford Motor Company became the leader in wartime aircraft production. He hired good friend Lindbergh in 1942 to serve as a technical advisor for aircraft operations in the South Pacific. Lindbergh's job was to troubleshoot technical problems arising with the production of the bombers, and he used his expertise to help redesign the nose and gun mount of the plane. Once the war was over, it was revealed that Lindbergh had been involved with the U.S. Air Force on secret projects and had flown on about fifty combat missions as a civilian. Beginning in 1947, he was officially welcomed back by the Air Force and served as a special advisor. This, combined with the popularity of several books written by his wife, restored Lindbergh's reputation with the American public.
Lindbergh's own book, The Spirit of St. Louis, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1953. He and his wife built a house on a quiet property on the island of Maui, Hawaii , and it was there he died on August 26, 1974.
Charles Augustus Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh flew the first non-stop solo flight in a powered flying machine over the Atlantic Ocean in
He covered 3,600 miles (5,794 km) from New York to Paris in 33 hours and 30 minutes, an astonishing achievement for the time, and showed the possibilities of the airplane.
Charles Lindbergh grew up on a farm in Minnesota and was at the University of Wisconsin majoring in engineering when he became fascinated by flying machines. After two years, he quit to learn to fly. He became a barnstormer and traveled to fairs and air shows giving demonstrations of flying. Wanting more instruction, he attended Army Flying School in Texas and became a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Service Reserve. Then he took a job with Robertson Aircraft in St. Louis. In 1926 he flew the inaugural flight of a new airmail route between St. Louis and Chicago.
In 1919, a $25,000 prize had been offered for the first man to fly alone nonstop from New York to Paris. Still unclaimed in 1927, Lindbergh thought he could win it. He persuaded several St. Louis businessmen to put up money for a plane to be called the Spirit of St. Louis. When the plane was ready, Lindbergh flew it from San Diego to New York in a record 20 hours and 21 minutes.
On May 20, 1927, he took off from New York in bad weather on his historic flight, his plane loaded with extra fuel. Thirty-three hours and 30 minutes later he landed at Le Bourget Airport in Paris in the dark. He was astounded at the crowds of people who greeted him. He was given awards, celebrations and parades and became one of the world's most recognizable people. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge.
Lindbergh toured the United States and the world promoting air travel and became technical advisor to several airlines. In Mexico City he met Anne Morrow, daughter of the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Dwight Morrow. They were married in 1929.
Lindbergh was a natural celebrity—young, tall, and good-looking with a beautiful wife and two sons—but in 1932 his life changed. His son Charles was kidnapped and found dead ten days later. Bruno Hauptmann was executed for the crime in 1934, though some still doubt he was guilty. The press sensationalized the tragedy and would not leave the bereaved parents alone. Besieged by photographers, reporters, and intruders, they fled to Europe in 1935 searching for privacy and safety.
In Germany and France, while his wife was earning stature as a writer, Lindbergh toured aircraft plants and was impressed with Adolf Hitler's industry. Lindbergh warned Europe about German air power but accepted a medal of honor from Hermann Göring, head of the German Air Force. This caused outrage in England and America. Lindbergh did himself further damage by stating that America should keep out of World War II and charging British forces and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt with pushing America into it. He was reviled and castigated, and he resigned from the Army. When war did begin in 1941, Lindbergh tried to reenlist. Rejected, he found ways to advise American air services and increase the proficiency planes and pilots.
After the war, President Eisenhower appointed Lindbergh a Brigadier General in the new Air Force. He published a Pulitzer Prizewinning book about his historic flight and then withdrew from public life. He settled in the town of Hana on the island of Maui, Hawaii, a place that is still difficult to reach by car boat or plane. He lived there in seclusion and wrote letters and articles on the preservation of whales and opposing the development of supersonic airplanes. He died of cancer in 1974 and is buried in Hana, Maui.
LYNDALL B. LANDAUER
THE FIRST TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHTS
The early days of aviation were a time of prizes and the accomplishments necessary to claim them. Among the prizes were $25,000 for the first non-stop flight from the New World to Paris, £10,000 for the first non-stop crossing from the New World to any part of Britain, $10,000 for the first Australian to fly from London to Australia in under a month, and so forth. Among the accomplishments were those who won these prizes, the first flight across the North Pole in 1926, (although this accomplishment has recently been questioned), and others too numerous to mention.
The first flight across the Atlantic Ocean took place in May, 1919, when a U.S. Navy Curtiss Flying Boat flew from Newfoundland to England via the Azores and Portugal. A month later, John Alcock and Arthur Brown flew a Vickers bomber nonstop from Newfoundland to Ireland, where they crashed into a bog, becoming the first to cross the ocean non-stop. This flight was noteworthy because of the horrendous weather that plagued them during the entire trip and because of the incredibly primitive airplane they flew. Flying a fragile biplane with virtually no navigational equipment, Alcock and Brown flew for over 16 hours through severe storms before crash landing. By accomplishing this feat, they claimed a £10,000 prize offered by the London Daily Mail in 1913. In fact, although Charles Lindbergh was the first person to successfully cross the Atlantic non-stop and alone, over 30 aviators had flown this route before him in the preceding 8 years.
P. ANDREW KARAM
In 1927 Charles Lindbergh (February 4, 1902–August 26,1974) was the first pilot to complete a transatlantic flight. He was born in Detroit to Evangeline and C. A. Lindbergh, a lawyer who served as a U.S. congressman from Minnesota. In his early twenties, Lindbergh briefly studied engineering and learned to fly a plane. In 1923, Lindbergh, along with hundreds of others, bought surplus World War I Curtiss Jenny airplanes from the U.S. Army, which he used to barnstorm and entertain the American public. In 1925, he became the chief pilot for Robertson Aircraft in St. Louis, Missouri, and began to fly the airmail. Two years later, backed by a group of St. Louis businessmen, Lindbergh built a special plane called the Spirit of St. Louis. On May 20, 1927, he flew solo in his new plane from New York to Paris in thirty-three and a half hours.
Four million people welcomed him when he returned to New York, and Lindbergh was an instant hero and attractive celebrity. The media and public focused on his achievement and later his marriage and travels with his copilot wife, Anne Morrow. Lindbergh's flight catapulted America into an aviation frenzy. According to aviation historian Henry Ladd Smith, investors rushed to buy into an industry that was not yet necessary to the public, investing nearly $400 million dollars in 1929 alone. The industry collapsed in the summer of 1929.
In March 1932, Lindbergh's infant son was kidnapped in what became known as the "crime of the century." Two years later, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a German carpenter, was arrested, tried, and executed for the kidnapping and murder of the baby. Many have questioned the fairness of the trial, arguing that Lindbergh's tremendous popularity may have influenced the outcome.
Lindbergh, a Republican, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt came into public conflict over two issues during the 1930s. In 1934 Lindbergh and Roosevelt disagreed over the "Spoils Conferences," a series of airmail contracts granted to new airline corporations in 1930. Lindbergh, who was employed by one of the airlines, accused Roosevelt of damaging the industry when the president broke the contracts and assigned the Army to fly the mail. With Lindbergh's support, the Black-McKellar Act returned the airmail to the commercial airlines, a defeat for the President.
Between 1935 and 1939, Lindbergh lived in Europe and visited Germany, publicly meeting with leaders of Germany's Luftwaffe. In 1939, Lindbergh advised the U.S. Army Air Corps to develop highspeed aircraft to deter attacks by other powers. A second conflict with Roosevelt ensued when Lindbergh, a spokesman for the America First Committee, regularly broadcast his isolationist views on the radio. In response to his speeches, the administration questioned Lindbergh's patriotism and intimated that he had a relationship with the Nazi government. In April 1941, Lindbergh resigned from his position as a colonel in the U.S. Air Corps Reserves. That September he accused the British, Jews, and Roosevelt of pushing the country toward war, a move that significantly damaged his image with the American public.
Throughout the Depression Lindbergh was a hero to the American public because of his famous flight and his image as a handsome, intelligent, and resourceful individual. For many, Lindbergh symbolized the possibilities of new technology, ideas about American manhood, and, with his wife and son, modern marriage and family. His isolationist views, while initially shared by many Americans, diminished his popularity. After the Depression, Lindbergh worked with military and commercial aviation interests and engaged in nature conservation efforts until his death in 1974.
Berg, A. Scott. Lindbergh. 1998.
Gray, Susan. Charles Lindbergh and the American Dilemma: The Conflict of Technology and Human Values. 1988.
Luckett, Perry D. Charles A. Lindbergh: A Bio-Bibliography. 1986.
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Smith, Henry Ladd. Airways: The History of Commercial Aviation in the United States. 1942. Reprint, 1965.
Liesl Miller Orenic
While in Europe in the 1930s, Lindbergh made several visits to Germany and was credited with obtaining valuable air intelligence for the United States. In 1938, the U.S. ambassador in London, Joseph Kennedy, asked Lindbergh to assess the military situation in Europe. Lindbergh argued against fighting Germany because he believed German airpower would be overwhelming.
Upon returning home in 1939, Lindbergh advised the Air Corps on its expansion. When war came in Europe, he spoke out against U.S. involvement and eventually joined the isolationist America First Committee. Denounced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for his stand, he resigned his reserve commission. In a Des Moines speech (1941), he singled out the Roosevelt administration, the British, and the Jews as “war agitators.” The speech caused a furor in which Lindbergh was widely attacked as an anti‐Semite.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt blocked Lindbergh from serving in uniform. Nonetheless, Lindbergh joined the war effort. He became a consultant at the Willow Run bomber plant, and evaluated the F4U Corsair fighter for United Aircraft. Although a civilian, Lindbergh made his way to the Pacific and persuaded local commanders to allow him to fly in combat. He completed fifty missions and was credited with downing one Japanese plane.
Lindbergh traveled to Europe after V‐E Day to study German jets and rockets. As an air force adviser he inspected military units, helped select the Air Force Academy site in Colorado, and served six years on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Department of Defense. In 1960, he retired as a reserve brigadier general, having been appointed to that rank in 1954.
[See also Academies, Service: U.S. Air Force Academy; Isolationism; World War II, U.S. Air Operations in: The Air War Against Japan.]
Charles A. Lindbergh , The Wartime Journals, 1970.
Wayne S. Cole , Charles A. Lindbergh and the Battle Against American Intervention in World War II, 1974.
Raymond H. Fredette