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Lindbergh’s Epic 1927 Non-Stop New York to Paris Flight

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  • A young man announcing Lindbergh’s successful flight in St. Louis, Missouri, with a pennant on his Model “T” Ford. Benjamin Ames photo.

For something, a little different today, the photo above sums up an extraordinary feat: Charles Lindbergh was the first aviator to fly nonstop from New York to Paris and collect the twenty-five thousand dollar prize established for doing so eight years earlier. Six men had already died in previous attempts.

The skilled aviator took a different approach then others did by using a single engine aircraft he could fly by himself. By doing so, the saved weight increased the fuel efficiency enough to allow for a four-thousand mile flying range which left him with more than enough gasoline to reach Paris.

The specially built and equipped airplane was constructed by the Ryan Airline Company of San Diego, California, with Lindbergh’s input, in the record time of only sixty days. The Spirt of St. Louis, a modified Ryan M-2 design needed five fuel tanks of 450 gallons total capacity for the flight. This required Lindbergh to use a periscope to see directly forward, as one of the tanks took up most of the entire front of the plane ahead of the side windows.

What he and others accomplished to even get the plane ready in time, followed by setting a new transcontinental record on the way to the starting line was remarkable. Throwing caution to the wind the confident pilot and his plane left under less than favorable conditions in New York, and 33.5 hours and 3,600 miles later touched down after a difficult flight to Paris.

Even if you know the tale, it is well worth revisiting it at PBS to learn more and also to watch at least the first ten minutes of the Lindbergh Story above also by PPS, filled with excellent period footage.

7 responses to “Lindbergh’s Epic 1927 Non-Stop New York to Paris Flight

  1. A fun fact, courtesy Robert Ripley: “Lindbergh was the 67th Man to make a non-stop flight over the Atlantic Ocean.”

    Two English aviators, John Alcock and A. Whitton Brown flew non-stop from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919, and two dirigibles made transatlantic crossings carrying 31 & 33 passengers.

    Of course, Lindy was the first solo flier.

    • Yes, And thanks for bringing these facts up as there just was not enough room in the post to cover everything surrounding this story.

      The key thing here is Raymond Orteig who established the prize appears to have known that just crossing the Atlantic was possible. He made it harder by specifying NY to Paris route which was 3600 miles.

  2. I have always wanted to examine Lindbergh’s airplane up close but the Smithsonian displays it so far away up near the ceiling you just might as well be looking at a picture of it in a book.
    I guess they’re scared people will start ripping souvenirs off it if they got near it just like they did in Gay Paree

  3. Don’t want to be too pedantic, but that is a pennant, not a pendant on the model T.

    Sorry, I just could not resist!

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