ST. LOUIS • The silver airplane broke through mist and smog over East St. Louis and headed for the Eads Bridge. Crowds of skywatchers cheered. Whistles screamed, horns honked and two Naval Reserve submarine chasers fired salutes. Behind it flew a buzzing swarm of Army pursuit biplanes.
Young Charles Lindbergh was back in town.
Lindbergh, then 25, returned in his Spirit of St. Louis on June 17, 1927, almost a month after his nonstop flight from New York to Paris, a feat that riveted the world. He put wheels down at Lambert Field at 3:27 p.m. Among the 12,000 there to greet him were U.S. Secretary of War (and tennis great) Dwight F. Davis and airport watchman George Herwig, who was Lindbergh's checkers buddy during his air-mail days.
For six days, St. Louis celebrated Lucky Lindy. Admirers lined the sidewalks 10 deep for a parade, packed Sportsman's Park to standing room, filled Art Hill for a flyover and speech, and jammed the Municipal Opera for a disappointingly brief cameo. By then, the shy Lindbergh was exhausted.
Born in Michigan, he was a barnstormer and Army pilot before he got a job here to fly the mail to and from Chicago. He bet his $2,000 savings and won over a group of St. Louis businessmen to buy a Ryan monoplane so he could chase the $25,000 Orteig Prize. Pilots had crossed the Atlantic Ocean, but nobody had made it nonstop from New York to Paris. Lindbergh did it in 33½ hours on May 20-21.
Many cities honored him, but St. Louis had its special claim. On June 18, people crowded along eight miles of parade route from Forest Park to a ticker-tape storm downtown. The Post-Dispatch described Lindbergh as "grave, dignified and interested, but never excited" as he rode in a white convertible.
At Art Hill, he gave a serious speech to 100,000 people on St. Louis' potential as an aviation hub — and mentioned a frustration that resonates today: "It takes nearly as long to go from St. Louis to the air terminal as it does to fly to Chicago." On June 22, he flew to Dayton, Ohio, en route to Washington.
His airplane is in the Smithsonian Institution in that city. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport displays one of Lindbergh's other personal aircraft, a 1934 Monocoupe. And a Ryan-built plane resembling the Spirit of St. Louis hangs in the grand Hall at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, which also has hundreds of the gifts and awards that were heaped on the young barnstormer who established St. Louis in world aviation.
May 20, 1927 - Lindbergh Gets Away At 7:52 a.m.
May 20, 1927 - Last View of Lindbergh's Plane Winging its way to Paris
May 20, 1927 - Lindbergh Sets off to Paris
May 20, 1927 - U.S. Ships at Sea Keep Watch for Lindberg Plane
May 21, 1927 - Lindbergh Lands Safely at Paris
May 21, 1927 - Lindbergh Got Bearings Before Turning to Sea
May 22, 1927 - Lindberg Made trip from San Diego to Paris in 55 hours
May 22, 1927 - Lindberg Flew into St. Louis 3 years ago
May 22, 1927 - Lindbergh Lands Safely on Paris Flying Field
May 22, 1927 - St. Louis Praise Wired Lindberg Ahead of Arrival
May 22, 1927 - Lindberg Sets Record in Trip Across Atlantic
May 23, 1927 - Lindbergh Explains to British Pilot How He Guides His Plane
May 23, 1927 - Lindbergh Gives Highlights of his Great Achievement
May 28, 1927 - Lindberg Receives Cross of Leopold
May 28, 1927 - Birthplace of Lindberg has its Celebration
May 29, 1927 - Lindbergh and His Start on Record-Making Flight to Paris
May 31, 1927 - King George Confers British Air Force Cross on Lindberg
June 11, 1927 - The Post-Dispatch's welcome plan
June 11, 1927 - Lindbergh Passes Along Pennsylvania Avenue
June 11, 1927 - President Decorates Lindberg
June 11, 1927 - Lindbergh Boarding Cruiser
June 12, 1927 - President Acclaims Linberg as the ideal American Youth
June 12, 1927 - Lindbergh Decorated by President
June 12, 1927 - Lindbergh Given Continuous Ovation by Washington Crowds
June 12, 1927 - Charles Lindbergh
June 13, 1927 - Lindberg Flies to NY in Army Plane
June 13, 1927 - Lindbergh Day in the National Capital
June 13, 1927 - Gov. Smith Decorates Lindbergh
June 13, 1927 - Greet Homecoming Lindberg
June 17, 1927 - Lindbergh's Mother in St. Louis
June 17, 1927 - Lindbergh Flight Supplement
June 17, 1927 - Story of Aviation
June 17, 1927 - Lindbergh Comics
June 17, 1927 - Lindbergh Comes Home
June 17, 1927 - Lindbergh's Spectacular Homecoming
June 17, 1927 - Lindbergh Welcome
June 17, 1927 - Lindy's map (part II)
June 17, 1927 - From NY to Paris
June 18, 1927 - Huge crowds welcome Lindbergh to St. Louis
June 17, 1927 - Map of Lindbergh's Great Flight
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