Saturday, May 21, 2016

First Nonstop Flight from New York to Paris

Today is the anniversary of another important historical event.

On May 21, 1927 Charles Lindberg made the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.  He was 25 years old.

This was also the first ever nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

As you know, in 1927, flying was still in its early stages and long distance solo flights such as this were things to 'dream of'.

His flight took 33 ½ hours ! And, remember, he was flying solo. No Co-Pilot. No Navigator.

But adventurous aviators, such as Charles Lindberg, were paving the way for flights that today are no longer solo but in huge multi-passenger planes.

Here are excerpts from a Wikipedia article which detail the flight:

"Six well-known aviators had already lost their lives in pursuit of the Orteig Prize when Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field on his successful attempt in the early morning of Friday, May 20, 1927. 

"Prior to fueling The Spirit, Lindbergh's crew had strained and restrained the Shell Aviation fuel to eliminate as much sediment as possible. This was to prevent any fuel line blockages during the flight.

"Burdened by its heavy load of 450 U.S. gallons (1,704 liters) of gasoline weighing about 2,710 lb (1,230 kg), and hampered by a muddy, rain-soaked runway, Lindbergh's Wright Whirlwind-powered monoplane gained speed very slowly as it made its 7:52 am (07:52) takeoff run, but its J-5C radial engine still proved powerful enough to allow the Spirit to clear the telephone lines at the far end of the field "by about twenty feet [six meters] with a fair reserve of flying speed".

 "Over the next 33.5 hours, he and the Spirit—which Lindbergh always jointly referred to as "WE"—faced many challenges, including skimming over both storm clouds at 10,000 ft (3,000 m) and wave tops at as low at 10 ft (3.0 m), fighting icing, flying blind through fog for several hours, and navigating only by the stars (whenever visible), and dead reckoning before landing at Le Bourget Airport at 10:22 pm (22:22) on Saturday, May 21. 

"The airfield was not marked on his map and Lindbergh knew only that it was some seven miles northeast of the city. He initially mistook the airfield for some large industrial complex with bright lights spreading out in all directions. The lights were, in fact, the headlights of tens of thousands of cars all driven by eager spectators now caught in "the largest traffic jam in Parisian history."

"A crowd estimated at 150,000 spectators stormed the field, dragged Lindbergh out of the cockpit, and literally carried him around above their heads for "nearly half an hour". While some damage was done to the Spirit (especially to the fine linen, silver-painted fabric covering on the fuselage) by souvenir hunters, both Lindbergh and the Spirit were eventually "rescued" from the mob by a group of French military fliers, soldiers, and police, who took them both to safety in a nearby hangar.

From that moment on, life would never again be the same for the previously little-known former U.S. Air Mail pilot who, by his successful flight, had achieved virtually instantaneous—and lifelong—world fame."
The long and detailed article about Lindberg's iife from which these words were taken can be found at Wikipedia in the following link.

Should you want more info than you ever wanted to know, then HERE'S THE LINK to Charles Lindberg