Charles Lindbergh is Born: February 4, 1902

Charles Lindbergh, St. Louis, Spirit of St. Louis

Charles Lindbergh was born in this date in 1902. He became a pioneering aviator and is best known for making the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight in 1927. While Lindbergh was not originally from St. Louis, he lived there during his life and has an outsized legacy in the city to this day. You could consider him an adoptive Missourian. 

In 1925, Lindbergh began working as an airmail pilot flying mail between St. Louis and Chicago with stops in Springfield and Peoria. By this time he had already developed a reputation as a daredevil pilot from his career as a stunt flier, and he began to dream of becoming the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. He realized this dream when he successfully completed the historic flight on May 20-21, 1927, in his aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis.

Lindbergh’s plane was named the “Spirit of St. Louis” in recognition of the financial support and sponsorship provided by several business leaders from St. Louis, Missouri. Lindbergh, in his quest to make the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight from New York to Paris, needed funding to build a custom airplane for the journey.

At the time, St. Louis had a thriving aviation community, and Lindbergh found support from businessmen, including Harold M. Bixby, president of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce, and other local backers. Lindbergh also secured a $15,000 loan from a St. Louis bank. The financial support from St. Louis businesses and individuals played a crucial role in making Lindbergh’s historic flight possible.

In appreciation of the support he received from the people of St. Louis, Lindbergh chose to name his custom-built monoplane the “Spirit of St. Louis.” The plane, officially known as the Ryan NYP (for New York to Paris), was built by Ryan Airlines in San Diego, California, and featured a design optimized for long-distance flights. After the plane was completed Lindbergh piloted it from San Diego to St. Louis, then onto New York to begin the transatlantic trip.

Upon his return to the United States, Charles Lindbergh was celebrated as a national hero. St. Louis, in particular, embraced him as their own, considering the city’s connection to the aircraft. A triumphant homecoming parade was held in Lindbergh’s honor in St. Louis. His plane is now kept at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.