By Mary Miller Cullins
In 1927, a group of St. Louis businessmen gave financial backing to the first transatlantic flight from New York to Paris; the pilot was Charles Lindbergh and the plane was named “Spirit of St. Louis.” Lindbergh was a daring young airmail pilot and an unlikely contender when he entered a competition with a $25,000 payoff to fly non-stop from New York to Paris. He ordered a small monoplane, designed it himself, and its name pays tribute to his sponsor-the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.
On a rainy morning in May, 1927, he took off from Roosevelt Field. His monoplane was so loaded down with fuel that it barely rose above the telephone wires at the end of the runway. He flew northeast up the East Coast and as night fell he left Newfoundland and headed across the North Atlantic. His greatest challenge was staying awake; he actually had to hold his eyelids open with his fingers. Lindbergh also had hallucinations of ghosts passing through the cockpit.
The next day, after flying 3,610 miles in 33 1/2 hours, Charles Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget field in Paris, becoming the first pilot to accomplish the solo, nonstop transatlantic flight. Lindbergh’s achievement made him an international celebrity and won widespread public acceptance of the airplane and commercial aviation.
Spirit of St. Louis