On This Day: Charles Lindbergh returns home a hero after first ever solo flight across the Atlantic

On This Day: Charles Lindbergh returns home a hero after first ever solo flight across the Atlantic

June 13: American aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh returned to New York a hero on this day in 1927 after becoming the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic.

The 25-year-old U.S. Air Mail pilot flew his own single-engine plane, the Spirit of St Louis, 3,600 miles from New Jersey to Paris in a time of 33 and a half hours.

A British Pathé newsreel shows him being welcomed back to the U.S. with a ticker-tape parade along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue and a flotilla of boats in the harbour.

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Lindbergh became an instant celebrity after the feat - which had killed six others who attempted it - earned him a $25,000 prize that had been on offer for eight years.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge after the French premier Gaston Doumergue gave him the Legion d’honneur medal.



The former U.S. Army pilot then began a three-month American tour where he visited 48 states and 92 cities, rode 1,290 miles in parades and delivered 147 speeches.

Lindbergh’s newfound fame boosted the reputation of aviation enormously – and quickly helped him earned him millions of dollars in endorsements.

Within the year, the son of a senator by the same name had met the woman he would marry, Anne Morrow, 21, the daughter of an ambassador.

The couple wed in 1929 and had six children together.


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But tragedy hit the family in 1932 when their 20-month-old son Charles Jr was abducted from his cot in what was described as the ‘crime of the century’.

They paid a $50,000 ransom, but the kidnappers were faking and the toddler’s body was discovered 12 weeks after he first disappeared.

The abduction prompted the Lindberghs to leave America to ‘seek a safe, secluded residence away from the tremendous public hysteria’.

In December 1935, they boarded a boat under assumed names and sailed to England, eventually settling in the Kent village of Sevenoaks Weald.



In 1938, they moved to a French island off the Breton coast that Lindbergh had purchased.

However, with war in Europe brewing, the family returned to America in April 1939 and Lindbergh joined the U.S. Army Air Force.

Despite suspicions he was a Nazi sympathiser and having advocated the U.S. stayed out of the war, he flew many combat missions in the Pacific after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.


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For the remainder of his life he reportedly conducted a series of affairs and secretly fathered seven children in Germany. DNA tests prove at least three were his.

He died of lymphoma at age 72 in 1974 at his home on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

 

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