Happy Birthday Charles Lindbergh!
February 4, 2005 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Today is Charles Augustus Lindbergh's (1902 - 1974) birthday. A pioneering American aviator, who was dubbed the Lone Eagle. In May 1927 he became the first person to fly nonstop and solo from New York to Paris, making the trip in 33½ hours in his specially built monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis. During the flight he battled extreme drowsiness, a malfunctioning compass, and wing icing. He was well aware that six others had died trying to accomplish this feat. After receiving a tumultuous hero's welcome in Paris, Lindbergh visited several countries on his way home, the last being England. He stopped at Buckingham Palace at the invitation of George V. As they conversed, the king posed numerous questions about the long flight, including one he felt could be asked only in private: "Sir, how did you pee?"
posted by indiebass (32 comments total)
England != UK.
posted by jackiemcghee at 8:45 AM on February 4, 2005

Lindbergh: Fallen Hero (PBS)-- ... In the speech he criticized President Roosevelt, who believed the Nazis must be stopped in their conquest of Europe. Lindbergh saw Nazi victory as certain and thought America's attention should be placed elsewhere. "These wars in Europe are not wars in which our civilization is defending itself against some Asiatic intruder... This is not a question of banding together to defend the white race against foreign invasion." Building on his belief that "racial strength is vital," Lindbergh published an article in Reader's Digest stating, "That our civilization depends on a Western wall of race and arms which can hold back... the infiltration of inferior blood." ...
posted by amberglow at 8:54 AM on February 4, 2005

The Plot Against America. Fiction, but well researched and an excellent read.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:02 AM on February 4, 2005

If only because of the ending, The Flight was the subject of what is quite possibly Billy Wilder's worst film.
posted by gramschmidt at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2005

Gotta love rotten...
posted by bardic at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2005

Those are some illuminating links in there, indiebass. Linking the word "wing" to a page about buffalo wings? "Drowsiness" to a dictionary definition?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2005

To me, he's a great example of how being a royal asshole can pretty much ruin your reputation for decades to come, no matter how cool some of the stuff you did was.

Moral of the story: don't be an asshole.
posted by drpynchon at 9:13 AM on February 4, 2005

Jackiemcghee... as a former South Londoner I grappled with the usage, and the source (non-web) I was using went with "England" so I just went with the source. I in no way meant to offend any Welsh, Scottish, Cornish or Northern Irish readers. ;) Apologies, if after the fact!
posted by indiebass at 9:16 AM on February 4, 2005

Man, being a Nazi sympathizer sure can do a number on your reputation. Not to mention a racist and a xenophobe.

And, as drpychon notes, an asshole.
posted by tommasz at 9:17 AM on February 4, 2005

I have a practical question at this point (No, not "Are we going to do Stonehenge tomorrow?").

Why so many superfluous links in the original post? Do we need a link to the definition of "drowsiness"?

posted by joshshmenge at 9:21 AM on February 4, 2005

1964 - 1975 -During this period almost nothing was written about Buffalo wings.
posted by iamck at 9:21 AM on February 4, 2005

including one he felt could be asked only in private: "Sir, how did you pee?"

Actually, I've always wondered that myself.
posted by riviera at 9:41 AM on February 4, 2005

OK, how did he do it then?
posted by matteo at 9:57 AM on February 4, 2005

Gatorade bottle. Just like college road trips.
posted by JeffK at 10:03 AM on February 4, 2005

Concentration, maybe a closing of one or both eyes?


And yeah, its kinda MeTa, but usually IMO the best hyperlinks when they do their -one-link-every-word- thing are when the links are relevant to the story. I thought 'Extreme' to ESPN , the Wings to Buffalo Wings, was cute.. but I could definitely say they watered down the rest of your links.

Thanks for the post! Sorry for adding to the pile on.
posted by cavalier at 10:04 AM on February 4, 2005

After reading through this I've got another comment:

Man, Charles Lindbergh AND Jack London in two days. My childhood heroes are taking a beating this week!

The rotten.com article on Lindbergh goes on to cite Henry Ford as being nasty, specifically citing that Ford's $5.00 wage was actually rescinded after being introduced. This is a bit outlandish for my mind to conceptualize -- that so many other biographers just nicely blanked that part out. rotten doesn't cite any sources, does anyone have any knowledge of Ford rescinding his $5.00 wage?

The Union stuff is referenced other places, with less cruel painting. The wage thing tho..
posted by cavalier at 10:18 AM on February 4, 2005

I'm not sure that asshole quite captures the spirit of someone who was a Nazi-sympathizing anti-semite. And who was unrepentant about it.

On another note: My best friend is relatively close with a woman who is either Lindbergh's granddaughter or great-granddaughter (I forget which, but she is a close relative), and this woman says that in the family there has always been talk that the death of the Lindbergh baby was a practical joke gone awry. I guess CL liked to play jokes like that, and at least some people in the family have always thought that he was responsible for the kidnapping himself. Complete hearsay, but interesting nonetheless.
posted by OmieWise at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2005

Hauptmann was a professional carpenter and denied on the stand that the ladder used in the kidnapping was his. The wood apparently matched lumber that was in his apartment building but the ladder itself was crudely made and not what you'd expect from a carpenter. This site has a lot of details on the trial.
posted by tommasz at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2005

For someone with Nazi sympathies, Lindbergh's words on one thing seem ironic:

Democracy is not a quality that can be imposed by war. The attempt to do so has always met with failure. Democracy can spring only from within a nation itself, only from the hearts and minds of the people. It can be spread abroad by example, but never by force. The strength of a democracy lies in the satisfaction of its own people. Its influence lies in making others wish to copy it. If we cannot make other nations wish to copy our American system of government, we cannot force them to copy it by going to war. - [PDF in HTML via Google]
posted by tweak at 11:19 AM on February 4, 2005

When I was an editor on an aviation magazine we did a story about Lindbergh's arrival in Paris. It said that Lindbergh's dislike of the press began at the American embassy there, when one reporter yelled out, "Lindy, did you have a crapper on the plane?"
posted by Man-Thing at 12:28 PM on February 4, 2005

He was a Nazi
But he's not anymore
He's dead

(With apologies to all MDC fans)
posted by Outlawyr at 12:51 PM on February 4, 2005

Most definitely worth a read, fire&wings, and thank you, but oh! for a picture of the man!
posted by IndigoJones at 3:40 PM on February 4, 2005

I just finished The Plot Against America (linked above) yesterday, and I'm not feeling too generous towards Lindbergh. But my gawd. Do his relatives really think that he kidnapped his son himself (a practical joke gone awry) and then sat back and allowed another man be given the death penalty? Makes you wonder about his character if his relatives could actually believe that about him.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:33 PM on February 4, 2005

And, since they did find a child's body (that Lindbergh subsequently identified), where did that body come from? I really do hope that they do a DNA test with the German relatives.
posted by tommasz at 5:13 PM on February 4, 2005

From the Times link by fire&wings:

...unlike Lindbergh's German children, who want nothing but recognition of their heritage, Charles has his eye on a big payday: a share of the Lindbergh family fortune. Reparations, in his view. "When Charlie wins his case, we'll move to Carmel where Clint Eastwood lives," says his wife, Adua. He wants to go on national talk shows, write the book, make the movie.

It certainly is a sketchy story, strengthened by the new evidence of these German relations, but this part really undermined the claim IMO.
posted by somethingotherthan at 7:34 PM on February 4, 2005

So he departed from TGI Friday's in Times Square?

Okay, in fairness, I'd be hard-pressed to choose one link for "New York," but I would take that as a sign to not link to anything.
posted by margarita at 8:32 PM on February 4, 2005

Lindbergh's immense fame is undeserved and, to me, a mystery.

What he did was no big deal. The Atlantic had already been crossed, just not solo. Crossing solo didn't mean anything; it was just a stunt. The crossings on larger planes had a lot more implications for future development.

Sure, he had some ambition, courage, and skill. It's not that he was slacker or a coward or a bad pilot. But he was just another pilot; he wasn't anybody special. Staying awake for 36 hours? Who hasn't done that? And he never did anything else important.

He did it for the prize and the fame. He earned the prize and six months of modest fame. Instead the people and the media went collectively insane for some unknown reason, and he got a fortune and eternal fame.

Lucky Lindy, indeed.
posted by herostratus at 12:54 AM on February 5, 2005

Herostratus, despite what personal dislike one may feel for Lindbergh, his achievement can't be dismissed so easily: yes, the Atlantic had been crossed, but from Newfoundland to Ireland, not all the way from New York to Paris, a challenge that had killed some of the best pilots of his time, acting with far more resources than Lindbergh.
posted by Skeptic at 3:40 AM on February 5, 2005

In 1932 the baby boy of the aviation hero Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped and murdered. Or so it was thought. Now one man may have the vital evidence to prove he is the missing son — and his sinister revelations could devastate America.

My grandfather was a prison guard at Trenton State Prison and guarded Bruno Hauptmann. My grandfather died in 1986, and I will always remember what he told me about his conversations with Hauptmann. He told me he and Hauptmann played pinnacle between the bars of the cell, and that Hauptmann swore day after day until the day his life was taken that he didn't kidnap or kill Lindbergh's child, and that he was framed. My grandfather was--like many people--a huge admirer of Lindbergh, but he told me that he believed Hauptmann was telling the truth.
posted by terrapin at 6:11 AM on February 5, 2005

margarita, Lindbergh actually took off from Roosevelt Field, some of which is a Long Island shopping mall now. There's a plaque on the wall near one of the stores commemorating his flight and also a small monument.

I grew up on LI and I recall as a teen being surprised to see the plaque, since there was no hint that the mall had ever been an airfield.
posted by tommasz at 7:39 AM on February 5, 2005

Lindbergh's immense fame is undeserved and, to me, a mystery.

I guess you had to be there. We, for better or worse, live in an age without heroes.

Check out Gore Vidal's essay in The Last Empire on the guy for a sense of it.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:51 AM on February 5, 2005

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