Inducted in 1967
First Non-Stop Solo Flight From New York To Paris, 1927
1902 – 1974
Charles Lindbergh was not the first pilot to fly across the Atlantic: there were 12 prior crossings, five of them non-stop. However, Lindbergh’s solo flight from New York to Paris in May 1927 electrified the world and directly impacted American aviation, air transport and popular attitudes toward flying.
Lindbergh’s hazardous lone journey started in the early morning of May 20, 1927, with little pre-flight notice. At the heart of the Ryan “Brougham” NYP plane, called the “Spirit of St. Louis” for his sponsors, was a single 220-horsepower Wright Whirlwind engine. Lindbergh was counting on its efficiency and reliability to enable him to win the $25,000 Orteig prize for the flight. To save weight, the Ryan high-wing monoplane carried no radio or parachute; every possible ounce was eliminated to provide space for fuel. For instance, Lindbergh used a periscope to see directly forward because his vision was blocked by an extra fuel tank. Still, Lindbergh’s heavily burdened craft barely missed the telephone wires during his take-off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island. Flying eastward through fog and darkness and battling lack of sleep, Lindbergh completed the 3,600-mile journey in 33 hours and 29 minutes. At Le Bourget Field in Paris, huge surging crowds met Lindbergh, some ripping off wing fabric for souvenirs.
Lindbergh used his global status to advance aviation throughout the world, and with his wife, Anne Morrow, spent the 1930s as an active advocate of aeronautics. The pair flew exploratory routes across the oceans, across the Arctic and across the north Pacific on behalf of American aviation companies and airlines.
During World War II, Lindbergh flew as a civilian technical advisor improving the performance of U.S. military planes and engines in the Pacific, and even flew some combat patrols.
Lindbergh’s epic solo flight transformed public opinion on the value and significance of aircraft, air travel and aeronautics, helping lay the foundation for the future development of U.S. aviation.