Charles Augustus Lindbergh (February 4, 1902 – August 26, 1974), nicknamed Slim, Lucky Lindy, and The Lone Eagle, was an American aviator, author, inventor, military officer, explorer, and social activist.
As a 25-year-old U.S. Air Mail pilot, Lindbergh emerged suddenly from virtual obscurity to instantaneous world fame as the result of his Orteig Prize-winning solo nonstop flight on May 20–21, 1927, made from the Roosevelt Field in Garden City on New York's Long Island to Le Bourget Field in Paris, France, a distance of nearly 3,600 statute miles (5,800 km), in the single-seat, single-engine, purpose-built Ryan monoplane Spirit of St. Louis. As a result of this flight, Lindbergh was the first person in history to be in New York one day and Paris the next. The record setting flight took 33 hours and 30 minutes. Lindbergh, a U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve officer, was also awarded the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his historic exploit.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Lindbergh used his fame to promote the development of both commercial aviation and Air Mail services in the United States and the Americas. In March 1932, his infant son, Charles, Jr., was kidnapped and murdered in what was soon dubbed the "Crime of the Century". It was described by journalist H. L. Mencken, as "... the biggest story since the resurrection." The kidnapping eventually led to the Lindbergh family's being "driven into voluntary exile" in Europe, to which they sailed in secrecy from New York under assumed names in late December 1935 to "seek a safe, secluded residence away from the tremendous public hysteria" in America. The Lindberghs returned to the United States in April 1939.
Before the United States formally entered World War II, Lindbergh had been an outspoken advocate of keeping the U.S. out of the world conflict, as had his father, Congressman Charles August Lindbergh, during World War I. Although Lindbergh was a leader in the antiwar America First movement, he nevertheless strongly supported the war effort after Pearl Harbor and flew 50 combat missions in the Pacific Theater of World War II as a civilian consultant, though President Franklin D. Roosevelt had refused to reinstate his Army Air Corps colonel's commission from which he had resigned in April 1941.
In his later years, Lindbergh became a prolific prize-winning author, international explorer, inventor, and environmentalist.
By Dean Hanley
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