August 2019 will see the 45th anniversary of the death of America’s most famous male aviator. We rediscover the Lone Eagle’s most famous moments through archival photography and footage
26th August 2019 marks 45 years since the death of Charles Lindbergh: pilot, author and activist. From an early age, the aviator extraordinaire was fascinated by automobiles and motorbikes, briefly studying mechanical engineering and, in 1924, training for one year with the United States Army Air Service.
The Orteig Prize, 1927
Lindbergh’s most famous achievement is undoubtedly his 1927 solo flight from New York City to Paris in The Spirit of St. Louis plane, winning him both $25,000 and international fame.
The Orteig Prize was offered by French hotelier Raymond Orteig in 1924 for any pilot(s) who could make this nonstop transatlantic journey successfully. By the time Lindbergh made his record-breaking voyage, six other pilots had lost their lives in the attempt, with many more injured.
Lindbergh braved snow storms and blinding fog to reach the French capital in 33.5 hours. He returned to the States a national hero, inspiring an astronomical rise in public air travel and aviation stocks. Below is a contemporary documentary showing the hysterical jubilation Lindbergh faced upon his return.
The Crime of the Century
In March 1932, Lindbergh entered the news again for less celebratory reasons.
The kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh Jr., Lindbergh’s firstborn son, and its aftermath was one of the most highly publicised cases of the 20th century. The toddler’s remains were found six weeks after the crime, and almost two years later a German immigrant carpenter, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, was arrested. This clip chronicles the Lindbergh trial, with an interview with the cameraman.
Flight to Europe and Later Life
Exasperated by the constant media attention following his son’s kidnapping, the Lindbergh family departed for Europe. They first moved to England then later to France. After serving in WWII, Lindbergh turned his attention to public speaking, writing and protecting the environment.
He spent his final years in Hawaii, where he died of lymphoma in 1974.
Lindbergh in art
The daring feats of Charles Lindbergh have inspired artists for decades, from paintings, magazine covers and book illustrations. Lindbergh and his wife Anne also sat for a diptych portrait by Ukrainian-American painter Robert Brackman (1898-1980), below.
Find out more
Browse more Charles Lindberg images and clips in the Bridgeman archive
Buff Films – watch more early aviation footage from Bridgeman Footage’s exclusive collection
Discover more about air travel through art history and beyond
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