In 1927, Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, making him an international celebrity and one of the most famous people in the world. His historic flight made him a household name and helped spur the growth of the aviation industry. Lindbergh was also an accomplished author, environmentalist, and explorer.
Born in 1902 in Detroit, Michigan, Lindbergh was the second of six children. His father, Charles August Lindbergh, was a U.S. Congressman from Minnesota. His mother, Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh, was a schoolteacher. Lindbergh's father died when he was four and his mother later remarried.
Lindbergh grew up in Little Falls, Minnesota, and attended local schools. He was an average student but was passionate about aviation. He built his first airplane at the age of 16 and took his first flying lesson at 17. In 1922, he moved to Nebraska to work as a barnstormer, piloting small planes and giving rides to people for a fee.
In 1924, Lindbergh enrolled in the U.S. Army Air Corps flying school but was later discharged due to his lack of college credits. He then enrolled in the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation's flying school.
In 1925, Lindbergh became a pilot for the Robertson Aircraft Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri. He flew airmail for the company and soon began to set long-distance records.
In May of 1927, Lindbergh embarked on his most famous flight, flying solo from New York to Paris in his airplane, the Spirit of St. Louis. The flight took 33.5 hours and made Lindbergh an instant celebrity. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the French Legion of Honor.
In December of 1927, Lindbergh married Anne Morrow, the daughter of U.S. Ambassador Dwight Whitney Morrow. The couple had six children together.
Lindbergh's fame continued to grow in the 1930s. He wrote several books, including We (1928), The Spirit of St. Louis (1953), and The Lonely Eagles (1944). He also made several flights across the United States and to other countries, including a flight to China in 1931.
In the early 1940s, Lindbergh became increasingly involved in the fight against Nazi Germany. He joined the America First Committee, a group that opposed U.S. involvement in World War II. Lindbergh's views on the war and his criticism of the Roosevelt administration earned him much criticism.
In May of 1941, Lindbergh's infant son, Charles Jr., was kidnapped and later found murdered. The case garnered much public attention and was never solved.
Despite his controversial views, Lindbergh remained a respected figure in the aviation community. In 1954, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his autobiography, The Spirit of St. Louis. He died in 1974 at the age of 72.