Looking back upon the decade, the 1920s has been filled with many individuals who have changed our society. But there is one person who stands out among this group of people, Charles Augustus Lindbergh. Charles Lindbergh was the first person to fly solo overseas, thus winning the Orteig Prize for his accomplishment. Nicknamed "The Lone Eagle", Lindbergh has opened up the possibilities of overseas travels to us.
Lindbergh's passion for mechanics didn't come as a surprise to many. As a young boy, Charles seemed to be very interested in the family's motorized vehicles, such as the Saxon Six automobile and Excelsior motorbike. But after starting college in the fall of 1920 as a mechanical engineer, his love for aviation started to bloom. Deciding that the field of aviation was more exciting, he dropped out within 2 years. He then decided to take lessons at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation's flying school and was up in the air for the first time on April 9, 1922 when he was in a two seat biplane as a passenger. But his solo flight would not be until May 1923 at the Souther Field in Americus, Georgia, an old flight training field where Lindbergh came to buy a World War I Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplane. It only took half an hour to practice with another pilot at the field to decide that Lindbergh was ready to fly the plane himself. After a week of practicing, Lindbergh took off on his biplane on his first solo cross country flight and few weeks after that, achieving his first nighttime flight near Arkansas, both marking huge milestones for the young pilot.
In October 1925, Lindbergh was hired by the Robertson Aircraft Corporation to lay out, and then serve as the chief pilot for a 278 mile air mail route to provide services between St. Louis and Chicago. He was the chief pilot for this route for ten months until February 1927, when he went to San Diego, California to oversee the construction of the Spirit of St. Louis, which was the plane that got Lindbergh the Orteig Prize.
To know what made Lindbergh so special, you need to know what the Orteig prize is. It was meant to be awarded the pilot who could fly their plane nonstop in any direction between New York City and Paris (It could be from NYC to Paris or Paris to NYC). This prestigious $25,000 award was first offered by Raymond Orteig on May 19, 1919 with a five year deadline, since no one seriously sought after this prize, Orteig extended it for another five years, thus attracting groups of well known contenders. Among these contenders was Lindbergh, relatively a beginner in the world of aviation. Many of these well known pilots tragically failed, some of them had actually died in the process.
The day was Friday, May 20, 1927. Six well known contenders had already fallen to the hand of death as Lindbergh took off early morning that day. His plane was a single seat, single engine monoplane that had a 46 foot wingspan with a 220...