The 'Spirit of St Louis' in flight, 1927.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Etching by A C Webb. Charles Augustus Lindbergh (1902-1974) was an airmail pilot who worked on the St Louis to Chicago run. On 20th-21st May 1927, Lindbergh made the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight , flying from New York to Paris in a Ryan monoplane which he christened 'The Spirit of St Louis'. The 3614 mile journey took Lindbergh 33 hours 30 minutes to complete, and one of the greatest difficulties he faced was simply staying awake, as to have fallen asleep at the controls could have meant disaster. Returning to the United States he received an unprecedented welcome, was promoted to colonel in the US Army Air Corps Reserve, and toured the nation to popularise aviation. Lindbergh also claimed a $25,000 prize for his achievement.