By Ben Welter
Eighty years ago this week, the world cheered Charles Lindbergh’s historic crossing of the Atlantic. Editors of the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune rolled out the big type for its A1 headline on May 22, 1927: LINDBERGH LANDS IN PARIS; SPANS ATLANTIC IN 33 HOURS.” Alas, even in those pre-Avista days, the Tribune relied solely on wire services for its extensive coverage of the local boy made good.
The next day, the paper carried a lengthy account of the flight by the aviator himself, “printed exclusively in the Minneapolis Tribune in the northwest.” Inside, readers were treated to this collection of related tidbits from around the world, including Lucky Lindy’s vision of seagoing runways and a congratulatory message from Il Duce:
By Associated Press.
Paris, May 22 – Commercial aviation across the Atlantic is perfectly feasible at present, in Captain Lindbergh’s opinion.
“It could be started now,” he said, “and will be whenever it is properly backed financially by an organization big enough to provide the foundation for the work on both land and sea, where some day there probably will be huge ‘landing fields’ anchored.”
“You think it will come in five years?” he was asked.
“Oh, sooner than that,” he replied.
“I take my hat off to Lindbergh; he’s a grand boy.” That was the tribute paid to the daring American airman by one of the world’s most colorful sportsmen, Sir Thomas Lipton before he left Chicago for New York. When the “Flying Fool” finally winged over Ireland, the Irish sportsman’s face beamed. “There, he has done it,” he chuckled. “Ireland is good luck.”
|Lindbergh with an ROTC rifle team at the University of Wisconsin in about 1923. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
He may be nicknamed the “Flyin’ Fool,” “Luck,” “Slim” and what-not now, but to the kids he went to school with years ago in Washington Lindbergh was “Cheese.”
While his father was a member of congress from Minnesota, Lindbergh, then a lean, timid youngster of 12, entered Friends’ school and was a pupil there three years. He was so retiring that old schoolmates today could hardly believe he had developed into a daring aviator who had amazed the world.
One of them, Norman E. Towson of the Washington Loan & Trust Co., remarked, “of all the surprises in my life this is the greatest. ‘Cheese’ was always of the most quiet, retiring nature. He was distinctly average, getting along well but not shining in any particular.”
Captain Charles Lindbergh trained himself to stay awake for a long stretch while he was in San Diego preparing for his New York-to-Pairs flight. During the two months he was there supervising the construction of his monoplane he took long walks, fighting off sleep for 30 to 40 hours. One week before he hopped off on his flight to St. Louis, which set a record for distance covered by a lone aviator in the non-stop flight, he remained awake 49 hours.
Orville Wright, father of aviation, commenting on Captain Charles Lindbergh’s successful New York to Paris flight, said, “It was a wonderful flight. It is a distinct advance and every advance brings the airplane into wider use. While I regard it as a stunt flight in one sense of the word, it is far superior to anything yet achieved.”
“The greatest achievement of modern times,” is the way the Belgian press hails Lindbergh’s exploit. “A triumph of human science and physical endurance.” King Albert, who was kept informed hourly of the progress of the flight, expressed his admiration for Lindbergh’s performance and his modest behavior.
The news of Lindbergh’s success took away Rome’s breath and sent it soaring into the region of superlatives of overwhelming praise. All question of nationality, all suspicion, all envy disappeared in the flood of appreciation, and his flight is universally appraised as one of the most heroic of all times.
|Lindbergh with Northwest Airways officials in about 1928. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|
King Gustave, through his legation at Paris, wired Lindbergh as follows:
“The whole Swedish nation joins me most heartily in congratulating you on the feat you accomplished with such success.”
King Alfonso of Spain was quick to congratulate Lindbergh on his flight. In a telegram to the young airman, received today, the king said: “I am much interested in your admirable exploit of crossing the Atlantic alone. I want to congratulate you affectionately.”
Freedom from “air consciousness” is Captain Charles A. Lindbergh’s greatest flying asset, the transatlantic flight’s committee of the Aerial League of America stated in a report issued today in New York. The Paris flier’s escapes from death in falling planes by parachute leaps illustrate this quality, says the report, which calls attention to his own account of such a leap for life after collision of two planes at Kelly field, Texas, June 2, 1925.
Senator Charles S. Dineen of Illinois said that either he or one of Minnesota’s senators would introduce a resolution at the next session of congress to award Captain Charles Lindbergh the congressional medal of honor in recognition of his brave flight from New York to Paris.
“As Lindbergh is regarded as a Minnesota youth, the gentlemen from Minnesota probably will put the resolution before the senate,” Senator Dineen said. “But if they do not, I will. Lindbergh deserves it.”
The state department at Washington made public the following message to President Coolidge from Ambassador Herrick at Paris:
“All France is deep in joy at Charles Lindbergh’s flight. Your message was such a worthy tribute. If we had deliberately sought a type to represent the youth, the intrepid adventure of America, and the immortal bravery of Nungesser and Coli, we could not have fared as well as in this boy of divine genius and simple courage.”
“To the victor belongs the spoils” is the decision of Henry H. Knight and other sponsors in St. Louis of the “Spirit of St. Louis.” They announce tonight that Captain Lindbergh will have for his own the $25,000 check handed him by Raymond Orteig, donor of the prize, and all other money which may accrue to the venture.
Premier Mussolini sent the following message to Henry P. Fletcher, the American ambassador to Italy: “Please accept shouts of enthusiastic admiration which at this moment ring from the heart of all the people of Italy exulting over the superb flight by Lindbergh.”
“The Swedish delegation to the economic conference is proud of your exploit, which is worthy of your Swedish-American origin,” says a telegram of congratulation sent to Captain Lindbergh by Anders Oerne, former minister of communications of Sweden, and his fellow delegates at Geneva, Switzerland.
|Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis visited his boyhood hometown of Little Falls, Minn., during an 82-city U.S. tour to promote aviation in the summer of 1927. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)|