Charles Lindbergh crashed his airplane twice in Illinois
Charles Lindbergh Crash Sites | Illinois
Anybody familiar with Charles Lindbergh’s earlier career as an airmail pilot might find it remarkable he’d still been alive to make his famous solo, nonstop 1927 New York to Paris flight. That’s because in the months preceding, he’d crashed two planes in Illinois (and shortly before that, one in Missouri).
On a mail run eight months before the Paris trek, the fog had prevented him from landing in Chicago. Attempting to make it instead to St. Louis, he ran out of fuel over Illinois cornfields and bailed out, nearly getting chopped to pieces by the plane’s still-spinning propeller as it crashed. A granite slab, placed 75 years later, marks the site in Wedron, Illinois.
Two months later, flying over Covell, Illinois, Lindbergh suddenly encountered bad weather, with his fuel gauge on “E” and no place to land, The reason the plane ran out of gas, as he later learned, was the 120-gallon fuel tank had been replaced without letting him know by an 85-gallon tank.. He would fly as far as possible past the town and parachute out at 13,000 feet. The plane crashed and Lindbergh landed on a barbed-wire fence. A local farmer, Charles Thompson, retrieved the bruised and battered pilot and drove him into town — and “Lucky Lindy” briefly considered changing careers. He earned his nickname: No other airmail pilot ever crashed so many planes. Thompson built a memorial, which was replaced in 1977 with a brick cairn and a bronze plaque.
Lindbergh would go from obscurity as a U.S. Air Mail pilot to instantaneous world fame by winning the Orteig Prize for making the first nonstop flight from New York City to Paris on May 20–21, 1927. Lindbergh covered the 33 1⁄2-hour, 3,600-statute-mile (5,800 km) flight alone in a purpose-built, single-engine Ryan monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis. Though the first non-stop transatlantic flight had been completed eight years earlier, this was the first solo transatlantic flight, the first transatlantic flight between two major city hubs, and the longest transatlantic flight by almost 2,000 miles. It is widely considered one of the most consequential flights in aviation history and ushered in a new era of transportation between parts of the globe.


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