In 1927, 25-year-old American aviator Charles Lindbergh earned international fame by making the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean (and won a prize of $25,000 in the bargain). This lively book, a publication of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, celebrates that great accomplishment in words and images. Museum curators Dominick Pisano and F. Robert van der Linden draw on the Smithsonian's holdings (among them Lindbergh's then-state-of-the-art monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis
) to offer a portrait of the famed pilot in the context of his time. They emphasize Lindbergh's calculated daring--he did not carry a parachute or heavy radio, for instance, reckoning that neither would be useful should he have to ditch at sea--and his abilities, unusual for a man of his age and the time. They also chart Lindbergh's progress from young flyer to world hero, considering his later career without shying away from its unpleasant aspects--notably, his early embrace of Adolf Hitler's regime and his insistence that the United States not take the side of England and France in the impending global war, at considerable cost to his reputation. Published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Lindbergh's flight and the centenary of his birth, this book makes a fine gift for aviation and history buffs. --Gregory McNamee
From Scientific American
May 21, 1927. Le Bourget Airport, Paris. Thirty-three hours, 30 minutes and 3,610 miles since takeoff from Roosevelt Field on Long Island. After circling the field one last time, Lindbergh throttles back. His reflexes are now quite dull from fatigue, and he finds himself struggling to control his aircraft. But he lands safely to a tumultuous reception and enduring fame as the first person to fly nonstop alone from New York to Paris. Pisano and van der Linden--respectively, chair of the aeronautics division and curator of air transportation and special-purpose aircraft at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution--almost put the reader in the cockpit of that single-engine airplane to share the challenge and ordeal of the flight. Many pictures of the pilot, the plane and scenes related to the flight enliven the story.
Editors of Scientific American