Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh

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Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902, in his grandfather's house in Detroit.
The son of a lawyer and U.S. congressman, he grew up on a small farm in Minnesota (Lindbergh Biography, ONL). As a child, Lindbergh showed remarkable mechanical ability.
He could understand every part of his motorcycle and car as he grew older.

After graduating high school, Lindbergh worked on the family farm for two years before enrolling in the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Engineering (Charles Lindbergh biography, ONL). But, after two years, Lindbergh found something else that excited him. He was more interested in the expanding field of aviation (Lindbergh Biography, ONL). He left college to attend the Lincoln Flight School in Nebraska. Once graduated, he spent the next few years performing daredevil stunts at county fairs and carnivals as a barnstormer (Charles Lindbergh biography, ONL).

In 1924, on advice from his father, Lindbergh enlisted in the United States Army to be trained as an Army Service Reserve pilot. A year later, he graduated first in his class and was hired by the Robertson Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis as an airmail pilot.
Gaining a reputation for being a cautious and capable pilot, he flew the mail between St. Louis and Chicago (Lindbergh Biography, ONL).

During the course of his job, Lindbergh heard of the famed Orteig Prize. In 1919, Raymond Orteig, the owner of Brevoort and Lafayette hotels in New York City, made an offer to "flying buffs". Orteig offered a prize of $25,000 to the first aviator to fly nonstop from Paris to New York or New York to Paris. Before 1926, no one had even attempted the feat. But, as aviation technology developed, the challenge began appearing possible (Spirit of St. Louis, ONL).

Before becoming an airmail pilot, Lindbergh hadn't even heard of the Orteig Prize, but he immediately became interested (Lindbergh Biography, ONL). In 1927, Lindbergh obtained a financial backing of $15,000 from a group of St. Louis businessmen, and he set out to find a plane. Hearing of Lindbergh's search for a plane, the Ryan Airlines Corporation in California offered to build him a plane for $6000 (Lindbergh Biography, ONL).

Working with chief engineer and designer Donald Hall of Ryan Airlines, Lindbergh designed "The Spirit of St. Louis". Lindbergh and Hall designed the airplane specifically for "getting to Paris". In order to cut down on weight, any item considered to heavy or unnecessary was left out including a radio, parachute, gas gauges, and navigation lights.

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Also, instead of a normal, heavy leather pilot's seat, Lindbergh put in a far lighter wicker chair (About the Spirit of St. Louis, ONL).

On April 28, 1927, in only over 2 months, "The Spirit of St. Louis" was completed.
Weighed in empty at the bare minimum it was 2,150 pounds (Lindbergh Biography, ONL). The plane was powered by a 220-horsepower, 9-cylinder Wright J-5C engine estimated to perform without flaw for over 9,000 hours. The engine was even outfitted with a special mechanism designed to keep it greased during Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic (About the Spirit of St. Louis, ONL).
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