Charles Lindberg, of the Spirit of St. Louis fame, could do far more than fly a plane. He could produce, improve and master them. Born Feb 4, 1902 to Charles A. Lindberg, Sr. and Evangeline Land, Charles Jr. was no stranger to greatness. He knew the value of hard work and standing up for what you believe in.
At age 20 Charles A Lindberg, Jr. entered the Nebraska Standard Aircraft Corporation to become a flying student. As no pilot’s license was required at the time, his father helped him purchase a war-surplus Curtiss “Jenny” and Charles took his first solo flight on April 9, 1922. In 1924, Charles enlisted as a United States Army flying Cadet and graduated a year later. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Service Reserve Corps. By November of that year Charles was promoted to First Lieutenant in the Missouri National Guard.
In 1927 Charles Lindberg purchased the Spirit of St Louis and made his famous trans-Atlantic solo flight in May of that same year. Tragedy hit the Lindberg family when their son was kidnapped and killed in 1932. The Lindberg’s escaped to England in 1935due to pressure from the press. Throughout 1935 – 1938 the Lindberg’s met many dignitaries from around the world, speaking of politics and aviation. In 1938 Charles Lindberg accepted an award from the Nazi’s. This greatly affected his reputation at home in America.
In 1939, Charles Lindberg returned to the United States to speak out against any American involvement in the European War. He was genuinely concerned with saving American lives, but his protests were not viewed that way. Under pressure from the American government Charles Lindberg resigned his military commission rather than not speak his mind. Charles learned to do whatever it takes to stand up for what you believe in from his father. In 1917, his father left a position in the US Congress to oppose the US entry into WWI.
When the United States was forced into the war, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lindberg offered to return to the military, believing he could save lives through service. He was refused. On April 3 1942 Charles Lindberg began to work as a consultant for Ford, converting the auto factory to a B-24 bomber factory. While there he helped to redesign parts for the plane. He also worked with the Mayo Clinic in high altitude research. He saved many lives by designing a jumpsuit fliers could use during that small window between blackout symptoms and a state of unconsciousness.
With the help of a Navy officer, Charles Lindberg arrived secretly in the Pacific theatre in April of 1944. There he tested the F4U Corsair. He demonstrated that the Corsair could carry double the bomb-load originally thought possible. He also discovered that dive-bombing with that load was not possible. In the South Pacific area Lindberg corrected the problems of the “whistling death” and Marines agreed to take him on a mission to Rabual. This was the first of 14 missions Lindberg few with the Marines. On June 15, Lindberg was “transferred” to 475th Fighter Group to work on the P-38 Lightning.
While working with “Satan’s Angels”, the pilots of the 475th, Charles Lindberg was able to add 500 miles to the P-38’s range on the same amount of fuel. This allowed the group to appear hundreds of miles from where the Japanese expected them to be. This element of surprise is credited with saving hundreds of American lives.
Charles Lindberg served his country during WWII by flying as a civilian technician. His hands on teaching allowed him to fly over 50 sorties, which included one Japanese Zero kill. Charles Lindberg did what he set out to do when he openly opposed the war; save American lives.