The Celebrity Pilot: Charles Lindbergh

HISTORY

By: Nathan Chandler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Charles Lindbergh was born with a reckless ambition that drove him into the skies as one of America's first great pilots. He performed airborne feats that led some people to think he was literally a god-like figure. The reality, of course, is more complicated. How much do you know about this legendary man of aviation?

For what feat is Charles Lindbergh famous?

Lindbergh was a young pilot in the mid-1920s who decided to push the limits of how far airplanes could fly. His feats turned him into a celebrity and made him a giant of history.

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Lindbergh flew the first non-stop flight between New York and which city?

He flew his plane from Long Island all the way to Paris, France, a journey of about 3,600 miles. He performed the feat alone.

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Why did Lindbergh suddenly decide to make this perilous trip?

Lindbergh wanted to win the Orteig Prize, a $25,000 prize offered by a New York businessman. At least four other pilots attempted the journey … and they died in the process. Then Lindbergh decided to try.

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What was the name of the plane that Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic?

He flew a now-famous plane named Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh obtained a loan from businessmen in St. Louis in order to buy the plane that carried him to fame.

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How did Lindbergh fare in college?

Lindbergh decided to enroll in mechanical engineering classes but was too restless. He wanted to actually fly planes rather than sit through lectures about them. He dropped out and went to flight school.

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After gaining some experience in the air, Lindbergh took up what job?

He was a daredevil to his core. Lindbergh took up stunt flying and performed dangerous feats for crowds gathered below. He quickly learned the limits and capabilities of the planes he flew.

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What was NOT one of his nicknames?

He was never called Wings. Many people called him Slim, The Lone Eagle … or Lucky Lindy.

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Lindbergh rose from obscurity and poverty to fame thanks to his amazing flight.

He was no social outcast -- Lindbergh's father was a five-term congressman out of Minnesota. His father was unusual in that he was one of the few to speak out against World War I.

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How old was Lindbergh when he attempted the incredible feat?

Lindbergh was a 25-year-old mail delivery pilot when he decided to fly across the Atlantic on a non-stop journey. Many people figured he'd wind up dead.

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How long did it take him to complete the flight from New York to Paris?

It was an arduous journey that took more than 33 hours to complete. Along the way, Lindbergh flew through challenging weather conditions that made navigation difficult.

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How many times did Lindbergh crash his plane while working as a mail delivery pilot?

No wonder they called him "Lucky Lindy." Four times he was forced to bail from his plane and parachute to the ground.

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When did Lindbergh attempt his flight across the Atlantic?

He attempted his flight in 1927 in the years between World War I and World War II. His feat showed just how airplanes might change the world.

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What happened when Lindbergh finally touched down in Paris?

By some estimates, a small city's worth of people cheered Lindbergh as he taxied to a stop in Paris. They rushed his plane and threw him on their shoulders to celebrate his feat.

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How did Lindbergh's famous flight affect the airplane industry?

Lindbergh's flight convinced industry pundits that planes were the next big thing -- businessmen clamored for increased manufacturing.

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The young pilot became very wealthy shortly after his flight. How did he make his fortune?

He wrote a book titled "We," which instantly became a bestseller. He made hundreds of thousands of dollars and was set for life while still in his 20s.

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What was one of Lindbergh's biggest challenges during his famous flight?

The pilot nearly fell asleep during the long journey. He said later that the lack of sleep caused hallucinations.

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In 1932, what happened to Lindbergh's 20-month-old son Charles Jr.?

In March of '32 a kidnapper grabbed the baby from the family's country home and then demanded a huge reward. The Lindberghs decided to pay the ransom. The crime created a nationwide media frenzy.

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How long did it take for Charles Jr. to return home?

A month after he was kidnapped, the toddler's body was found in a wooded area near the family's house. The authorities mounted a massive search for the kidnapper.

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How long did it take police to catch the kidnapper?

It took more than two years, but the police finally caught Richard Hauptmann when he used the marked ransom money to make a purchase. He was convicted of his crimes and executed in 1936.

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Who offered a huge cash reward to help find the baby?

Al Capone, the famous Chicago gangster, offered a $10,000 reward to catch the kidnappers. Lindbergh couldn't accept the help from a notorious gangster … but on the side, he did ask criminals to help him find the men who took his child.

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The family hated the media attention they received during the trial. To which country did they flee?

The Lindberghs fled to a small English village, where they rediscovered happiness. Years later, they bought an entire island off of the coast of France and moved there.

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What did Lindbergh do after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941?

Like most Americans, Lindbergh was outraged by the surprise attack and wanted vengeance. He tried to rejoin the Air Force but the authorities shot down his query.

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What did Lindbergh do after the Air Force refused to allow him back into military service?

He wouldn't take no for an answer. Lindbergh found private companies that allowed him to serve as a technical consultant of sorts for the Air Force and eventually, he wound up flying planes, shooting down the enemy.

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Why did the Air Force refuse Lindbergh's service?

Lindbergh had some interesting political views, some of which seemed to favor Nazi Germany. He was strictly barred from service because no one wanted a potential fascist fighting for America.

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How did Lindbergh's presence aboard military planes affect the other Air Force men?

Lindbergh participated in dozens of combat missions and shot down at least one enemy plane. He also showed the other pilots how to maximize the capabilities of the P-38 fighter.

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Lindbergh was a fan of Adolf Hitler.

Lindbergh thought Hitler was a bit extreme, but he shared some Nazi views, particularly with regards to race. Whether he was a Nazi sympathizer is up for debate.

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Lindbergh married a woman named Anne. The two immediately did what?

Lindbergh taught Anne to fly, and she became a competent pilot. She served as both co-pilot and radio operator for her famous husband.

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Lindbergh was unfaithful to his wife during the 1950s. How many children did he father with mistresses?

He developed relationships with at least three mistresses in Europe in the 1950s. He had seven children in total with them, and he told the women never to tell anyone about their biological father.

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Lindbergh helped propel the development of which technology?

Lindbergh befriended Robert Goddard, the man who created new liquid-fuel rocket technology. The pilot helped Goddard obtain the money he needed to do his research.

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How did he die?

Lindbergh retired to Hawaii, where he developed malignant tumors. He died in 1974 at age 72.

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