Charles Augustus Lindbergh (born February 4, 1902 in Detroit, died August 26, 1974 in Kipahulu, Hawaii) – American aviation pioneer, famous for the first airplane solo flight between the North American mainland and Europe without stopping in 1927, Brigadier General of the U.S. Army, honorary doctor of the University of Illinois and other universities. Time magazine”s first “Man of the Year.”
Origin and childhood
The Lindbergh family was of Swedish origin, Finnish to be precise, which is not synonymous with Swedish, since Skåne belonged to Denmark for 600 years before King Charles X Gustav conquered it, and the local dialect in the countryside is to this day more similar to Danish than to Swedish. Lindbergh”s grandfather August Lindbergh, owned by Ola Månsson (pronounced u:la mo:nson, 1808-1892), came from a poor peasant family, from the village of Smedstorp (where several family members still live today, some of whom also took the surname Lindberg, without the “h”) near Simrishamn in the province of Kristianstad (now Tomelilla Municipality). The famous aviator”s great-grandfather, Månsson”s father, was named Måns Jönsson (Swedish peasants had only patronymic surnames in those days) and was a farmer and county tailor. Ola Månsson held liberal views and fought for the rights of the peasantry, for women”s rights and for equal rights for Jews. In 1847 he was elected to the Swedish State Parliament, Ståndsriksdagen, as a representative of the peasantry. Earlier, in 1833 he married the daughter of a neighbor from Smedstorp, Ingar Jönsdotter (1816-1864), with whom he had eight children (five girls and three boys). In 1857 he began an affair with the Stockholm waitress Lovisa Callén (d. 1921), who bore him a son, Charles Augustus, a year later. Meanwhile, Månsson was accused of taking bribes and misappropriating funds as chairman of a committee allocating loans to farmers from parliamentary grants through the Swedish State Bank (Riksbanken; Månsson was its director in Malmö), and had to resign his parliamentary seat pending trial. After losing in two instances, Månsson, without waiting for the verdict of the Supreme Court (Supreme Court (Sweden)(sw.)), reassigned his farm to his eldest son Jöns Olsson, got himself and Lovisa papers in the new name Lindbergh, and emigrated with her and their joint son to the USA. From then on, his name was August Lindbergh and his son”s name was Charles August Lindbergh, the pilot”s father. In Sweden, Månsson was sentenced in absentia to disenfranchisement. In the USA, the former Månsson returned to the farming profession, obtained a land allocation for a farm in the state of Minnesota near Melrose, and was now building a new existence as a pioneer in these dangerous lands, exposed to invasions by Indians of the Sioux tribe and natural disasters such as the destruction of a year”s crop by a locust attack. With Lovisa, called Louise in the US, he had six children, three of whom survived (so he had 15 children in both marriages?). Toward the end of his life he legalized his relationship with Louisa, marrying her in 1885.
The eldest son from this union, Charles August Lindbergh, a lawyer and politician, married, after the death of his first wife, Miss Evangeline Lodge Land, daughter of a noted Detroit dentist named Charles Henry Land, inventor, known as the “father of porcelain lace.” He purchased a farm on the right bank of the Mississippi with 120 acres of land and woods, where he settled with his wife and two daughters from his first marriage. In 1901 Evangeline became pregnant. The big city girl never got used to provincial Little Falls; as the birth approached, she moved to the family home in Detroit, where on February 4, 1902 at 1:30 in the morning she gave birth to a son (4 kg in weight, 55 cm in height) who was named after his father, with the addition of us to Augustus.
In 1906, Charles Augustus was elected to the U.S. Congress, and from then on, the family wandered between Little Falls, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. Charles Augustus never attended the same school for more than three months, which hurt his grades. In addition, his father was involved in a number of election campaigns in various locales and needed a chauffeur for his Ford T, so eleven-year-old Charles got behind the wheel (no driver”s license was required at the time) and drove his father around the various meetings (he drove about 4,000 miles at the time). His father”s political career ended the year the U.S. entered the war (1917), as he was a staunch isolationist. The family returned to Little Falls and Charles Augustus took up farming.
After retiring from politics, Charles” father invested in his farm, purchased cows and sheep, and Charles served as the primary farmhand while attending the top-ranked High School in Little Falls, with rather mediocre results. He received his diploma in 1918, which qualified him for higher education, but only because he did not have to take the final exam – as a young man employed in agriculture, he was exempt from the exam, as there was a shortage of labor in the countryside due to mass conscription. After earning his degree, Charles wanted to enter U.S. Air Force Officer Candidate School, but the war had just ended and the school”s enrollment had been reduced, so this career path was impossible at the time. For some time he had been thinking of going to medical school, but unfortunately he lacked a degree in Latin, a language for which he had a deep aversion, so nothing came of it. Eventually he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at Madison to study engineering, but even this did not go well: in February 1922 he failed his exams in chemistry, mathematics and physics and was struck off the roll of students. The most important experience of these years was his participation in military studies at the university, where he earned the rank of cadet – noncommissioned officer of the reserve.
Just one month after his failure at the university, Charles enrolled in a paid ($500) airplane mechanic course at Lincoln, and two weeks later he took his first airplane flight as a passenger, and after a month and seven hours of flying lessons with a teacher, he sat at the controls of an airplane for the first time. For the next year he worked as a stuntman and airplane mechanic in a traveling “airplane circus” run by Bahl, one of his Lincoln teachers. By the spring of 1923, he had put aside enough money to buy his own plane: at an auction of U.S. Army demobilized aircraft, he purchased for $500 a Curtiss JN-4D, commonly called the Jenny, with an eight-cylinder engine, a classic U.S. Air Force training airplane. He spent the next year as a stunt pilot at various U.S. air shows.
At the urging of fellow airshow pilots, Lindbergh entered the Air Cadet School at Brooks Field near San Antonio in 1924. The course enrolled 104 cadets, of whom Charles, with his 300 flight hours and 700 appearances as a competitive pilot, was the most experienced of all. Of these 104, 18 cadets completed the course in March 1925, of whom Lindbergh was the best performer. He now attained the rank of U.S. Air Force Reserve Lieutenant, but he did not think of a career as a professional officer for the time being, but returned to competitive aviation, and then, in 1926, after an unsuccessful attempt to be hired as one of three pilots for Commodore Byrd, who planned to fly over the North Pole, he took a job with the Robertson brothers” organized air mail line from Saint Louis, Missouri, to Chicago. He flew in an Airco DH.4 plane, which he named St.Louis. These mail flights were, due to generally bad weather conditions and the lack of emergency airports along the route, among the most dangerous jobs in US aviation: 40 pilots were employed, 31 of whom lost their lives in the first few months after the line was launched. Also, two Lindbergh planes crashed one after another, but Charles was saved from both accidents by parachute. From then on, the US press called him Lucky Lindy.
New York hotel magnate Raymond Orteig, a great aviation enthusiast, funded a prize of $25,000 for a nonstop flight between New York and Paris or vice versa. The thought of making the flight never left Lindbergh from that moment on, but he had to raise at least $15,000 to buy and rebuild the plane. To obtain sponsors, Lindbergh, a recluse, joined the Keystone Lodge Masonic Lodge No. 243 in Saint Louis, which included wealthy industrialists, bankers and intellectuals. The necessary funds were soon raised.
Transatlantic Flight (1927)
The first daredevils to win the Orteig Prize were French World War I veterans – Captain Charles Nungesser and his navigator Raymond Coli. They took off from Le Bourget Airport on May 8, 1927 in a Levasseur PL 8 aircraft named L”Oiseau Blanc (White Bird). The last recorded contact with them was when they flew over the coast of Ireland. However, the plane did not reach New York, and neither the location nor the cause of the crash has been determined. Attempts were also made by Rene Fonck, Clarence Chamberlin (who later made a solo flight across the Atlantic as the second man in the world, two weeks after Lindbergh) and Admiral Richard E. Byrd, among others.
Lindbergh learned that a new Bellanca-Wright airplane, with which he had high hopes, had been built in New York, but Giuseppe Bellanca”s company, Columbia Aircraft, demanded too high a price for the plane, and then withdrew from negotiations with Lindbergh altogether, declaring that it would select its own crew to fly over the Atlantic. Lindbergh then turned to a small aircraft factory in San Diego, the Ryan Aeronautical Company, which offered him its brand of aircraft for $6,000, plus the price of a Wright 9-cylinder engine, $4580. Lindbergh immediately decided to sign the contract and detailed his desiderata: the plane was to be light, single-seat, with a large auxiliary gasoline tank, holding 1,705 liters of fuel, built directly in front of the cockpit, obstructing the pilot”s forward view so that a movable periscope had to be added so that the pilot could have a forward view. The finally finished aircraft of wooden construction weighed with full tanks 2230 kg, the plane reached a speed of about 200 km/h and the engine had 225 horsepower. An interesting feature of the machine was its low longitudinal stability, which required more action from the pilot during the flight – but reduced the risk of falling asleep at the controls. In addition, the comfortable seat was also replaced by a less ergonomic one – for the same reason. Fortunately, the 9-cylinder Wright “Whirlwind” J-5 engine was considered the most reliable aircraft engine in the world at that time. In order not to overload the plane, Lindbergh decided to take only the minimum of luggage: a bottle of water and a couple of chocolate bars and sandwiches as provisions, as well as an inflatable rubber boat, a fishing rod, and a pair of signal rockets in case of an emergency landing in the waves. He didn”t even take clean underwear, a razor and a toothbrush, but – though religiously indifferent and a non-practicing Protestant – he did take with him a medal bearing the likeness of St. Christopher.
Lindbergh took a test flight from San Diego to St. Louis, covering the 2,000-mile distance in 14 hours and 25 minutes. In St. Louis his Masonic lodge handed him some mysterious papers, which he taped to the fuselage of the plane, and he proceeded to New York, where he arrived after less than eight hours. The weather was favorable, so he decided to begin his flight over the Atlantic the very next day at 7:40 a.m., after a sleepless 24 hours. He took off from Roosevelt Field in Garden City, Long Island, New York, on May 20, 1927, and on the evening of that day, after a 12-hour flight, he was over Newfoundland; after 25 hours he reached Ireland, over which he lowered his flight, seeing groups of people everywhere cheering in his honor. At 21 hours he reached the coast of Normandy. The French government, notified of his arrival by telegraph, ordered torches to be lit all the way from Deauville to Paris to help him navigate in the dark. At 10:24 p.m. on May 21, the Spirit of St. Louis landed in Paris after a 33.5 hour flight. The historic flight was a success, and Lindbergh gained worldwide fame (his grandson Erik Lindbergh repeated the same flight 75 years later in 2002, covering the distance in 17 hours and 17 minutes).
For his feat, Charles Lindbergh received the Order of the Legion of Honor from the President of France. On his way back he visited London and was received at Buckingham Palace by King George V, who (as Lindbergh later described in his memoirs) escorted him to the side and asked: May I ask how you actually managed to urinate for so many hours? – Lindbergh lied, saying that he used paper cups, the contents of which he poured into the Atlantic. In fact,” he later wrote, “I felt sorry for those Frenchmen who carried me on their shoulders from Le Bourget airport – my pants were completely soaked and I peed in them…
From England, the U.S. Navy escorted him to the United States (the plane, disassembled and expertly packed, went with him), where President Calvin Coolidge awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross and appointed him colonel in the U.S. Air Force on June 11, 1927. He was welcomed in Washington by 250,000 people. As early as July 20, Lindbergh took off in his Spirit of St. Louis to fly all over the United States. As early as July 20, Lindbergh set off in his Spirit of St. Louis to fly across the United States. He was sponsored by a friend from a Jewish family of bankers, Harry Guggenheim, who created a “Fund for the Support of the U.S. Air Force” with a capital of 500,000 USD – Lindbergh received an honorarium of 50,000 USD. In 3 months Lindbergh flew 45,000 km, visited 82 cities and met with 35 million people – one third of the then population of the United States.
Lindbergh won and received the Orteig Prize, but what mattered more than money to him was fame and a permanent place in the history of world aviation. A “confetti” parade in his honor, still the largest in U.S. history (4 million participants), was held in New York on June 13, 1927. On March 21, 1929 he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
It is worth noting that although Lindbergh was the first man to make a solo transatlantic flight without landings, from continent to continent, there had been successful attempts with intermediate stops before. The crew of the NC-4 flying boat made a nineteen-day stage flight across the Atlantic Ocean in May 1919.
The first non-stop flight across the ocean took place almost 8 years before Lindbergh. It was accomplished by two British pilots, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown, on a modified Vickers Vimy IV bomber between June 14 and 15, 1919. Their flight from Lester”s Field (Newfoundland) to Clifden (Ireland), however, was overshadowed by Lindbergh”s feat. It is worth noting that the British feat refers to flying between islands in the ocean, while Lindbergh flew between continents. It is believed that 81 people flew in various forms across the Atlantic before the American.
Archaeologist and inventor
After his flight, Lindbergh wrote a letter to the president of Longines, describing in detail the design of a watch that would make navigation easier for pilots. The design was adopted and a watch of this type is still produced today.
Charles Linbergh was also one of the pioneers of aerial archaeology. In 1929, while flying over the jungle in the Yucatán Peninsula, he spotted the ruins of a Mayan city. This discovery sparked his interest in the possibilities of searching for ancient archaeological sites from an airplane. In August of that year, Lindbergh flew over Arizona and New Mexico territory, discovering many sites of the Pueblo culture, and in October of that year he made a pair of repeat flights over Yucatan in search of the ruins.
In 1927 the US government sent Lindbergh on a “goodwill mission” to Mexico. The flight was a new record – the pilot covered the distance of 3500 km in 24 hours with 1425 liters of gasoline in the tank. The weather conditions were very difficult, rainy and foggy, so that Lindbergh flew at a low altitude, following the course of the railroad tracks. It puzzled him why one after another of the railroad stations was called Caballeros, only to realize after a while that Caballeros meant men”s toilets.
In Mexico City, he was greeted by 150,000 people and invited to live at the U.S. Embassy. The ambassador at the time was Dwight Morrow, from a wealthy family, father of three daughters and one son. The other daughter Anna was studying the history of literature in New York and came to visit her parents for Christmas. A feeling arose between the two shy young people at first sight. Lindbergh remained in Central America for two more months, visiting 16 Latin American countries on his “goodwill mission,” and Anna returned to the United States. At the conclusion of his mission, Lindbergh flew back to Washington, D.C., and parted there forever with his Spirit of St.Louis, donating it to the museum where it still resides.
In September 1928 Anna and Charles met in New York. Rumors of a “romance of the year” began to circulate in the press, which embarrassed both of these shy people. Ambassador Morrow, who was beginning to be irritated by the various insinuations of journalists, called a press conference on February 12, 1929, at which he announced “the engagement of my daughter Anna Spencer Morrow to Colonel Charles Lindbergh.” The couple married on May 27, 1929, having a modest church wedding at the Morrows” summer residence in New Jersey. Charles was 27 and Anna was 23. As Lindbergh later made discreetly clear in his memoirs, the two had hitherto known no intimate life (in their generation and Protestant, middle-class society they were no exception).
Within a few months Charles had taught Anna the art of navigation. In the spring of 1930 he bought for $20,000 a new plane, a Lockheed- Sirius, with a 450 hp engine and two seats in the cockpit: in April of that year he won the speed record for flying from the west coast of the USA to the east coast, from Los Angeles to New York, making the flight in 14.5 hours. (Being advanced in pregnancy, she endured the flight at 4,500 m very badly, but in the end they arrived happily. On June 22, 1930 the Lindberghs” firstborn son, Charles Augustus Jr. was born. In the fall of that year the couple decided to move to New Jersey, where Charles purchased a 200-acre wooded parcel of land near the town of Hopewell.
Thirteen months after their son was born, the Lindberghs placed him in the care of Anna”s parents, who also lived in New Jersey, and set out on a new adventure – a flight across the Pacific to China, where no American pilot had ever gone before. Lindbergh converted his lockheed into a hydroplane and fitted it with a new 575 horsepower engine. The route led to Ottawa, from there over Alaska to the Japanese island of Hokkaido, on to Tokyo, where the pair were greeted by 100,000 enthusiasts, and finally to Nanjing, where they were expected by Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek, who awarded Lindbergh the Republic of China”s highest honor, the Military Order of the Blue Sky and White Sun. Further travel led the pair to Shanghai, but there the plane was damaged while being towed to the water. At the same time, a telegram arrived about the sudden death of Anna”s father, so the Lindberghs ordered the plane to be disassembled and packed up and headed for the United States by sea.
Kidnapping and death of son
The Lindberghs moved into their new spacious, lonely home on the edge of the woods in January 1932. On the evening of March 1, they heard a strange noise from the second floor where the baby slept, but a storm was raging outside, so they assumed it was the source of the noise. At 10 p.m., little Charles” nanny went upstairs to see if any diapers needed changing and found an empty crib and a half-open window and a letter lying on the little one”s bedding. Lindbergh immediately notified the police, who blocked all the roads and bridges in the state of New Jersey, but to no avail. The letter, written in broken English with German inserts, demanded a ransom of $50,000 in various denominations. The kidnapping of the Lindbergh child became a national sensation: newspapers and radio programs reported on it. After Edgar Hoover”s office joined the search, 100,000 agents in uniform and in civilian clothes searched for the kidnapped child, still without success. All that was found was the ladder (with a broken rung) that the kidnapper had used to get into the child”s room. Shortly thereafter, a new letter from the kidnapper arrived demanding $70,000 to be donated to one of the New York cemeteries. Having handed over the money (bills already withdrawn from circulation exchangeable for gold dollars, so-called gold certificates, which Lindbergh”s bank had numbered), Lindbergh”s intermediary received a letter with a clue that the child was hidden on Nelly”s boat near the Massachusetts coast. The water police inspected all the ships, but no Nelly was among them. The Lindberghs were deceived.
On May 12, 1932, the deformed and partially eaten by wild animals corpse of a child was accidentally found in the woods about 7.2 miles from the Lindbergh property. Called to the morgue, the father immediately recognized little Charles by the distinctive dimple on his chin. After the autopsy, he had the corpse immediately burned and scattered the ashes by the sea. He did not want to talk about the case until the end of his life. The autopsy revealed that the boy had died from a blow to the head.
Thirty months after these incidents, a $10 gold certificate settled the bill at a gas station in the Bronx. When the owner of the gas station saw the rare bill, he noted the license plate number of the car. The bank, upon receiving his daily payment, determined that the bill came from the Lindbergh ransom and alerted the police, who arrested the owner of the car. He was Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a 34-year-old immigrant from Germany, in whose home further bills from Lindbergh were found. The alleged perpetrator never confessed, and accused Isidor Fish, a German Jew who had died of cancer in 1934, of kidnapping and killing the boy. When put on trial by jury, however, Hauptmann was found guilty of kidnapping and murder and ended his life on April 3, 1936 in the electric chair.
Lindbergh and the Third Reich
In 1936, a US Army intelligence agent, Major Truman Smith, was appointed Military Attaché at the American Embassy in Berlin, and was concerned about the growing military power of three European dictatorships, Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union. A personal acquaintance of Lindbergh”s, concluded that the famous aviator could render great service to US intelligence through his contacts, being welcomed and received everywhere, and induced him in July 1936, then already a colonel in the US Army Reserve, to visit Berlin, having received a personal invitation from Luftwaffe chief Göring. At Tempelhof airport, Lindbergh was greeted by Hermann Göring himself with his adjutant, the later Field Marshal Milch, at his side. All the aces of the German air force were introduced to Lindbergh, headed by Udet, as famous as the World War I veteran Göring. He was immediately allowed to try out Göring”s pride, the Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, and was shown the latest bombers, fighters and stukas. Impressed by this display, Lindbergh reported in his secret report to the U.S. government that Germany was close to becoming Europe”s greatest air power. He was also invited as a guest of honor to the opening of the Berlin Olympics on August 1, 1936. He later wrote: this fanaticism makes me sick, but the Germans are the most interesting nation in the world. On his second visit to Germany – also a secret US government mission (1937) – Lindbergh visited the Messerschmitt and Dornier production facilities and reported to Washington that Germany was once again a world power in aviation, almost equal to England and far superior to France. On his third visit to the Third Reich in 1938, U.S. Ambassador to Berlin Hugh Wilson hosted a lavish reception for Lindbergh and his wife, during which Göring suddenly appeared and presented the airman with a high decoration on behalf of the Führer, the Order of the German Eagle for Meritorious Service 2nd Class, and on behalf of the Luftwaffe, the honorary saber of the German Air Force, which he had designed himself. Lindbergh, not understanding the services he had rendered to the Third Reich, hesitated for a moment, but accepted the honors, which his critics later often reproached him for. Ambassador Wilson later told him that refusing to accept it would have led to a serious diplomatic crisis (before Lindbergh, for example, Henry Ford and the French ambassador in Berlin, André François-Poncet, had unscrupulously accepted the order).
From Germany Lindbergh went, still on his intelligence mission, to the USSR, visiting Poland and Czechoslovakia along the way. Welcomed in Moscow with vodka and caviar, he nevertheless managed to keep a clear head and conclude that the Soviet air fleet was much weaker than the German one and that Stalin”s state was characterized by Asian despotism, that at the decisive moment he would prefer Hitler”s dictatorship to the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat, that Hitler”s Germany was after all Europe”s bulwark against the Bolshevik onslaught. Above all, he feared the outbreak of world war and the drawing of the USA into it. These statements reached the American press and caused a storm – the left-wing press, sympathetic to the Soviets, began to accuse Lindbergh even of anti-Americanism, while the right-wing, still cautiously sympathetic to the Third Reich despite the events of Kristallnacht, and above all isolationist, saw in him their new leader.
America First Committee
After a two-year stay in England, where she moved after the death of her son, the Lindbergh family returned to the United States in the spring of 1939. Lindbergh submitted a report to the commander of the American Air Force, General Arnold. In it, he emphasized the enormous superiority of the Luftwaffe over the air forces of England and France and his two basic beliefs: the need for a rapid and massive expansion of the U.S. Air Force and the maintenance of U.S. neutrality at all costs in the coming world conflict. In April of that year he also had a conversation with President Roosevelt, who tried unsuccessfully to persuade him not to agitate against U.S. entry into the war, and after the outbreak of war in September 1939 offered him, through General Arnold, the newly created post of Minister of Aviation on the occasion of a reorganization of his cabinet, but Lindbergh, who distrusted the President, suspecting him of being influenced by Churchill, did not accept the offer. On September 13, 1939, he gave a 15-minute radio address calling for a policy of U.S. neutrality toward war in Europe.
In 1940, a large neutralist organization, the America First Committee, was formed, supported by people of all political persuasions: socialists, conservatives, feminists, wealthy Jewish businessmen like Lindbergh”s friend Harry Guggenheim, young students like John F. Kennedy, writers like Pearl Buck and Upton Sinclair. The admission of well-known anti-Semites like Henry Ford and Avery Brundage to the organization was ruled out in advance. After a few months, the Committee had 500,000 members – Lindbergh was the chief agitator. The Republicans, who were initially in the isolationist camp, even offered him the party”s nomination for President of the United States, but Lindbergh declined.
Roosevelt”s government soon found itself on the defensive, although officially it still maintained a course of non-intervention. Secretly, Roosevelt, the Democratic Party (United States), much of Big Business, and the Army leadership planned to enter the war, as it was clear that Britain and the Soviet Union (disliked but needed) would succumb to the superiority of the Third Reich without American help. However, it was necessary to justify to the American people that the U.S. was under threat-the first step was to discredit the AFC and Lindbergh as a pro-German fifth column at home: in one speech, Roosevelt called Lindbergh a defeatist, comparing him to traitors from the American Civil War, and Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes accused him outright of collaborating with Germany (citing as evidence that Lindbergh had not returned his German order to Berlin after the start of World War II). Losing his nerve, Lindbergh sent his officer”s patent back to the President and responded by declaring in his speech in Des Moines (September 11, 1941) that the main instigators of war were the Roosevelt government, the British Secret Service and big Jewish capital and its media power (noting that he was not anti-Semitic and that he condemned the brutal anti-Semitism of the Third Reich), who were willing to sacrifice the lives of millions of young Americans for their interests. The reaction of the left in the AFC, the liberal press, and the Democrats was dismay – Lindbergh”s political career was over, and most of his old friends turned on him.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States entered the war and Lindbergh immediately volunteered for the U.S. Air Force, but was refused admission to the U.S. Air Force by order of Roosevelt, citing his work in the then disbanded AFC as the reason. The new career was made possible by Henry Ford, who realized in advance that participation in the production of weapons would bring his company large profits and moved to the presidential camp. Ford hired Lindbergh as a pilot for the test flights of the B-24 bomber, produced by his plant, and later as an advisor on the construction of the Boeing B-29 supercarrier.
From the summer of 1944 Lindbergh – as a civilian – participated in US Air Force raids on Japanese positions on the Pacific front. He flew F4U Corsair aircraft in VMF-222 and P-38 Lightning units. He was a long-range flight advisor. He took part in 50 bombing raids and personally shot down a Mitsubishi Ki-51 reconnaissance plane. He later prayed for the soul of the Japanese pilot who lost his life in the process for many years.
On April 12, 1945, President Roosevelt died. Lindbergh”s situation changed dramatically.
Advisor to President Eisenhower
Just a few days after Germany”s unconditional surrender, on May 11, 1945, Lindbergh received his first secret mission from Truman”s government: he was sent to Germany to investigate how far the Third Reich”s scientists had progressed in the fields of rocketry and jet aircraft, with particular attention to the production of Professor Messerschmitt”s aircraft. The idea was to recruit as many German specialists as possible (many of whom Lindbergh knew personally from his pre-war years) to work with the US. A few years later Lindbergh wrote: “The Russians never hesitated to appoint Hitler”s rocket specialists as anti-fascists if it suited their interests. We had to prevent that.” The last rocket factory complex Lindbergh visited was the underground V2 rocket factory at Nordhausen (Dora-Mittelbau) in the Harz mountains, where 25,000 prisoners from various KZs, put to work there, gave their lives over a two-year period. Only now did his eyes open to the reality of the Third Reich. In his diary he recorded: “of course I knew that such things took place. But it is one thing to have knowledge, even to look at photographs, and another to see it with one”s own eyes and listen to the stories of witnesses.
After 1947, Lindbergh was appointed to Strategic Air Command, where he worked on the staff of experts developing missile weapons and organizing the construction of a fleet of atomic bombers, while trying out all the new American fighters and bombers. In 1948, during the Berlin blockade, he co-organized an air bridge to West Berlin and participated in flights as a pilot, passenger and advisor. Beginning that year, he also acted as chief advisor to the head of Pan American World Airways, Juan Trippe, in converting that airline”s fleet from propeller planes to jets. As such, he had free tickets on all PanAM flights and flew officially as a consultant, which was great camouflage for his main activity as a secret US aviation advisor. In April 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and his personal consultant – military and political adviser – on matters concerning NATO structures in Europe. Lindbergh had no need to fear interference from US intelligence and was given his own office based in Rome, reporting directly to Eisenhower. There, he was involved in preparations for a possible military coup and NATO intervention in the event of a takeover by Italian Communists, which was almost imminent at the time. He had his own interpreter and secretary there, a Prussian aristocrat named Valeska, soon to become the mother of his two children, who has not revealed her surname to this day.
Lindbergh”s four families
In the postwar years, Lindbergh”s marriage to Anne Morrow began to disintegrate (though the Lindberghs never filed for divorce): Anne began an affair with the aviator-writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry at the end of the war, and Charles, who was away from the U.S. for most of the year on his intelligence mission, created as many as three unofficial families in Germany and Switzerland. In 1957 he became involved with a Romanian refugee, Brigitte Hesshaimer (d. 2001), whom he placed near Munich with the couple”s three children, Dyrk (b. 1958), Astrid (b. 1960), and David (b. 1967). At the same time he had an affair with Brigitta”s sister Marietta, who bore him two sons, Vago (born 1962) and Christopher (born 1966). Charles settled Marietta and her children in a villa he bought for them in Switzerland in the canton of Valais. From his third relationship with Valeska, a Prussian aristocrat of unknown name, who still lives in Baden-Baden, he had a son (born 1959) and a daughter (born 1961) whose names were not revealed.
All three women knew about each other (Marietta and Briggida were sisters, and both were also friends with Valeska), but they seemed to withhold information about Lindbergh”s affair with the other women. He made infrequent appearances with them and went by the nickname “Uncle Careu Kent” for the children. The children did not learn his true identity until after their mothers died in 2001.
Supporting two families with five children (Valeska became independent soon after receiving the inheritance of her wealthy aunt) consumed considerable funds, so Lindbergh saved as much as he could: during his travels in Germany and Switzerland he never stayed in hotels, but slept in parking lots in his Volkswagen Beetle (how the enormous Charles fit in it remains his secret).
In 2001, Anne Morrow Lindenbergh and Brigitte Hesshaimer passed away. Brigitte”s daughter, Astrid, while sorting through her mother”s papers, found letters and photographs of Lindbergh. DNA analysis confirmed Charles” paternity. In 2005, there was a reunion of half-siblings from the relationships of Anna Morrow and Brigitte Hesshaimer.
Back in the 1960s, Lindbergh joined the environmental movement and care for endangered animals, including humpback whales and blue whales. While in the Philippines, he became involved in the rescue of the local “griffin,” a monkey-eater. In his last years he often emphasized the need to maintain balance between technological development, to which he himself contributed, and nature and man”s natural environment (he spoke out against the introduction of airlines equipped with supersonic planes).
A few years before his death, Lindbergh settled in Kipahulu on the island of Maui, Hawaii, where he died in 1974 of lymphatic cancer. The tombstone, in addition to personal details, includes the inscription If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…. (If I take the wings of the dawn, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: there also Thy hand shall guide me, and Thy right hand shall uphold me, Psalm 139:9-10). These words come from the Bible, from the Old Testament. Although Lindbergh emphasized many times that he was not a Christian – he professed a kind of pantheism – his funeral had a Christian character.
In honor of Lindbergh and his wife, Anna Morrow Lindbergh, the Lindbergh Foundation (“The Lindbergh Foundation”) was established in 1978 to endow the “Lindbergh Award” for outstanding achievement in balancing technology and the environment. (“The Lindbergh Award”) for outstanding achievement in balancing technological progress with the environment.
In author Philip Roth”s 2004 novel Conspiracy Against America, set in an alternate history convention, Charles Lindbergh becomes president of the United States in the 1940s.