Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974), American aviator, engineer, and Pulitzer Prize winner, who was the first person to make a nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic.
Lindbergh was born February 4, 1902, in Detroit. He attended the University of Wisconsin for two years but withdrew to attend a flying school in Lincoln, Nebraska. He began flying in 1922, and four years later he piloted a mail plane between St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago. He decided to compete for a prize of $25,000 offered in 1919 by the Franco-American philanthropist Raymond B. Orteig of New York City for the first nonstop transatlantic flight between New York City and Paris. In his single-engine monoplane, Spirit of St. Louis, Lindbergh left Roosevelt Field at 7:52 am on May 20, 1927. After a flight of 33 hours 32 minutes, he landed at Le Bourget Airport near Paris. His achievement won the enthusiasm and acclaim of the world, and he was greeted as a hero in Europe and the U.S. He was later commissioned a colonel in the U.S. Air Service Reserve and was a technical adviser to commercial airlines. He made “goodwill tours” of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Lindbergh flew over Yucatán and Mexico in 1929 and over the Far East in 1931, and in 1933 he made a survey of more than 48,000 km (about 30,000 mi) for transatlantic air routes and landing fields. Lindbergh also collaborated with the French surgeon Alexis Carrel in experiments to develop an artificial heart pump. Despite early promising results the experiments were finally given up without entirely achieving their purpose. The two men were coauthors of The Culture of Organs (1938).
In 1932 the kidnapping and murder of Lindbergh's first child, 19-month-old Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., attracted nationwide attention. A German-born carpenter, Bruno Hauptmann, was later found guilty of the crime and executed. To avoid further publicity, the Lindberghs moved to Europe in 1935. Lindbergh toured the Continent and studied the air forces of various countries. He accepted (1938) a decoration from Adolf Hitler and praised the German air force as superior to that of any other European country. On his return (1939) to the U.S., Lindbergh toured the country and made a series of antiwar speeches. He was criticized as being pro-German and was forced to resign his commission in the air corps reserve and his membership in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. During World War II, however, Lindbergh was a civilian consultant to aircraft manufacturers and was sent on missions to the Pacific area and to Europe for the U.S. Army. He died on August 26, 1974, on Maui, Hawaii.
Lindbergh's writings include the story of his historic flight, We (1927); his autobiography, The Spirit of St. Louis (1953; Pulitzer Prize, 1954); and The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh (1970). His wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the daughter of the American diplomat Dwight Morrow, became a well-known writer.