On this day 21 May, 1927, American aviator Charles A. Lindbergh made history when he successfully completed the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The transatlantic flight left from New York and landed in Paris and was made in the monoplane Spirit of Saint Louis and took about 33.5 hours to complete the journey.
At the time of his record breaking flight, Lindbergh was an unknown 25-year old U.S. Air Mail pilot and became a national hero literally overnight. Lindbergh was also a U.S. Army reserve officer and as a result was also awarded the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his historic flight. From that time on Lindbergh was rarely out of the news. Sometimes, he was a tragic figure – the kidnap and subsequent murder of his infant son in 1932 is still remembered today as the “Lindbergh Baby Case” and at the time was dubbed the “Crime of the Century” – whilst what was seen as his overly enthusiastic initial support of Fascism in Europe in the late 1930s saw him suspected of being a racist and Nazi sympathizer. From the 1960s onwards, however, ever the multi-faceted personality, Lindbergh championed far nobler causes campaigning to protect endangered species like humpback and blue whales and stressing the need to regain the balance between the world and the natural environment. After campaigning so fervently in his youth to encourage commercial flight, as an old man he spoke against the introduction of supersonic airliners.