The New York City to Paris flight took place 94 years ago.
In the early morning of Friday, May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island. His monoplane was loaded with 450 U.S. gallons (1,704 liters) of fuel that was strained repeatedly to avoid fuel line blockage. The fully loaded aircraft weighed 5,135 lb (2,329 kg), with takeoff hampered by a muddy, rain-soaked runway. Lindbergh’s monoplane was powered by a J-5C Wright Whirlwind radial engine and gained speed very slowly during its 7:52 a.m. takeoff, but cleared telephone lines at the far end of the field “by about twenty feet [six meters] with a fair reserve of flying speed”.
Over the next 33+1⁄2 hours, Lindbergh and the Spirit faced many challenges, which included skimming over storm clouds at 10,000 ft (3,000 m) and wave tops at as low as 10 ft (3.0 m). The aircraft fought icing, flew blind through fog for several hours, and Lindbergh navigated only by dead reckoning (he was not proficient at navigating by the sun and stars and he rejected radio navigation gear as heavy and unreliable). He was fortunate that the winds over the Atlantic cancelled each other out, giving him zero wind drift—and thus accurate navigation during the long flight over featureless ocean. He landed at Le Bourget Aerodrome at 10:22 p.m. on Saturday, May 21.The airfield was not marked on his map and Lindbergh knew only that it was some seven miles northeast of the city; he initially mistook it for some large industrial complex because of the bright lights spreading out in all directions—in fact the headlights of tens of thousands of spectators’ cars caught in “the largest traffic jam in Paris history” in their attempt to be present for Lindbergh’s landing.
This page was last updated on 2021.05.21