Lindbergh Completes His Transatlantic Flight:
May 21, 1927

Lindbergh Completes His Transatlantic Flight: May 21, 1927

Lindbergh Reaches Paris
On May 21, 1927, at 10:22 p.m. local time, 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh and his silver monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, landed in Paris, France, making him the first aviator to successfully fly nonstop across the Atlantic from New York to Paris.

A former barnstormer, Army Air Service cadet, and airmail pilot, Lindbergh decided to try to win the Orteig Prize—$25,000 to the first aviator to fly nonstop from New York to Paris or vice versa. Many well-known pilots of the day had attempted the flight, but all previous attempts had ended in accident or death.

Lindbergh, a virtually unknown pilot at the time, had a hard time finding a company to sell him a plane in which to make the journey, even after he found backers in St. Louis to fund him. Eventually, he found Ryan Airlines, based out of San Diego, which would custom-build him a plane to his exact specifications—a light-weight, one-seat, single-engine monoplane with only the bare essentials to allow for extra fuel.

Map of Lindbergh's transatlantic flight

The plane, named the Spirit of St. Louis, was completed in a mere 60 days, and after stopping in St. Louis, Lindbergh flew on to New York to make his attempt. Initially, the flight was postponed due to poor weather, but as soon as it began to clear up, Lindbergh departed on May 20 at 7:52 a.m. The trip took him 33 ½ hours, and though he faced challenges like ice building up on his plane, Lindbergh’s greatest struggle was staying awake and alert over the long flight.

From the moment he touched down, Lindberg became an instant celebrity. Tens of thousands (and perhaps upwards of 100,000) French greeted him at the airport, and an estimated 4 million people packed the streets during his parade in New York City. 30 million Americans (about a quarter of the population at the time) came to see him as he toured the Spirit of St. Louis around the country in the months that followed. He even received the Medal of Honor for his landmark flight.

Cartoon about how Lindbergh closed the distance between US and France with his flight
Lindbergh used his immense fame to promote the nascent aviation industry, and though he would lose favor in later years because of his controversial political and personal views, for a time he was easily one of the most famous people in the world.

Did any of your family members see Lindbergh as he toured the nation? Tell us about it! If you want to learn more about him, you can search for articles on Newspapers.com.

12 thoughts on “Lindbergh Completes His Transatlantic Flight:
May 21, 1927

  1. My father was 8 at the time of the Lindbergh kdinapping and lived in Ithaca NY. The repercussions affected him. He wrote:

    “There was some reason for fear because the Lindbergh kidnapping brought about a wave of kidnappings and threats of kidnappings. In 1933, I was the subject of such a threat. A young New Yorker, picking names from Who’s Who” had sent a threatening letter to mother and one to a professor at Tufts College. Mother was given instructions to deliver $5,000 using the Classified Ads of the New York “Times” for messages. She was warned not to tell the police. Her first impulse was to dismiss the letter but she finally took it to the post office.

    Until the story broke, I knew nothing of the threat and was unaware that the police were keeping me under surveillance. A trap was baited and a nineteen year old named Irving Garfinckel was arrested. For a few days I was a big man at school. After all, the story was on the front page of the New York “Times.” Unfortunately, none of the other kids read the “Times.””

    • My mother, Marcella, an orphan on a farm at age 7, had the daily habit to read the newspaper to the mother. She read this article re Lindy. I’ll keep it as a memento of her life’s experience which inspired her to try and achieve in her own and other lives.

  2. My Dad (14 yrs. old at the time) was turning sod with horses when a neighbor drove by in a Model T Ford and shouted out that Lindbergh had made it. It was one of his favorite memories.

  3. I am sure that my grandfather who was born in 1852 was amazed by this grand event.

  4. My first cousin, twice removed, was Brice Herbert Goldsborough. He created the navigational instruments for the Spirit of St. Louis. He also flew with Lindy on test flights before the big crossing.

    Brice was also a pilot and in Dec 1927, he flew as navigator with a woman, Mrs. Grayson, who was trying to be the first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic. Unfortunately, they disappeared shortly after takeoff, somewhere near Newfoundland. This precipitate the first ever air/sea search involving both US and Canadian vessels and even the dirigible, “USS Los Angeles”. No trace of the plane “Dawn” has ever been found.

  5. You know that Ryan Airlines was selected by Lindberg because they were one of the few airplane builders building planes using aluminum skin and frames. This made the plane that much lighter which allowed for more fuel to be carried as compared to a plane of the same design with wooden frames and canvas skin. Ryan Airlines that their experience working with aluminum and their other business, building aluminum caskets.

    Ryan Industries had a slogan “Whether you’re flying or dying you can depend on Ryan.”

  6. My father used to sit on the tractor in Shelley, ID and watch the ants on the ground and pretend he was flying and the ants were people. He ended up in San Antonio, TX after high school and became roommates and close friends with Charles in the Army Air Corp Cadet class of 1924-1925. He was in Taos, NM when Charles was on his national tour. Charles saw my father in the crowd and had one of his security guards deliver a personal message for my father to meet him after the parade in Charles’ hotel room. I still have the hand written note. Charles used to visit my father in Long Beach, CA during his trips back and forth to Hawaii. I have many personal notes and messages from Charles to my father.

  7. My maternal grand father “Dr. Robert Boburg” met Charles Lindbergh personally when he flew into Flores Peten, Guatemala.

  8. You must be very proud. I know I would be. Congratulatons Charles wherever you might be.
    Margaret Godfree of Melbourne Victoria Australia.

  9. My great uncle James J. Hughes was the Assistant Passport Agent who gave Lindbergh his passport for the flight.

  10. In the 50’s my father was the faculty sponsor/ supervisor/busdriver when my class went to see the movie “The Spirit of St. Louis” starring James Stewart. I was in the eighth grade but I having never heard of Lindberg was “blown away” by the story of “Lucky Lindy”. In the following days my father recounted his own personal memories of being a senior in high school as Lindberg was the flying all over the nation making the news and prepping for his history-making flight.

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