Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.

Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.
by Allen E. Roberts

    THOUSANDS in France watched breathlessly as the tiny speck in
the sky grew larger and larger. They cheered wildly as the small
monoplane made a perfect landing on the flying field in Paris,
France. The lines of police and soldiers were shattered as the
screaming spectators ran and stumbled to welcome the hero of the
hour--"The Lone Eagle"--the man who had dared to fly solo from the
new world to the old over the ever treacherous Atlantic Ocean.

    A dirt-streaked, weary, yet jubilant Charles Augustus Lind-
bergh, Jr., grinned from the tiny cockpit of The Spirit of St.
Louis. Part of the crowd of 25,000 lifted him from his single-
engine plane. It represented the ultimate triumph and the
culmination of months of determined effort. It was the fulfillment
of Lindbergh's ambitious dream. The time was 10:24 P.M.; the date,
May 21, 1927.

    "Well, I made it," beamed "Lucky Lindy" as the crowd at Le
Bourget Field continued to give the exhausted flyer a hero's
welcome. "My greatest job was to stay awake," he said. "It was an
unusual experience..."

    An unusual experience, indeed! Without radio or parachute he had
flown 3600 miles to become the first man to fly the Atlantic
non-stop. And he did it in a small plane built especially for him in
only 60 days by the Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego,
California. He had proven the potential of the airplane as a
practical means of transportation. He also showed what a few
suspected-he was an aviation genius.

    Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was born in Detroit, Michigan,
on February 4, 1902. His early years were spent in Little Falls,
Minnesota, where his father was a politician. There Charles attended
school, but only spasmodically. Because of a peculiar law, he was
able to receive his diploma in 1918. He wanted to enlist in the Army
Air Corps, but at the insistence of mother, he enrolled in the
University of Wisconsin. He stayed there just over a year. His
interests concerned automobiles, machinery, guns, and motorcycles.

    He abhorred smoking, drinking, social activities, and girls.

    He said goodbye to his mother when he was 20 and on March 22,
1922, joined a flying school conducted by the Nebraska Aircraft
Company in Lincoln. He invested $500 in flying lessons. He was a
natural. After only seven hours of instruction, he was qualified
enough to join a barnstorming and stunt team as a handyman,
mechanic, wingwalker, and pilot. He became known as "Daredevil
Lindbergh," the man who was able to hang by his teeth from a wing.

    He enrolled as a flying cadet in the U.S. Army in 1924. Out of
the class of 103, 18 passed the course, and Lindbergh was at the
head of the graduates. He was commissioned a second lieutenant.
Later he became an airmail pilot, and in this capacity he was forced
to make four emergency parachute jumps.

    On April 15, 1926, Lindbergh made the first air mail flight from
Chicago to St. Louis. Then he began dreaming of being the first to
make a non-stop trans-Atlantic flight. Time was important. Others
were planning the same thing. Among them was Admiral Richard E.
Byrd, a member of Kane Lodge No. 454, F. &A.M., of New York. (Byrd
did cross the Atlantic in 1927, after flying over the North Pole in

    Lindbergh needed financial backing if he was to be able to enter
the "race" for the $25,000 prize offered by Raymond Orteig. He
sought help from Robertson Aircraft of St. Louis, and was hired as
chief pilot. In St. Louis he was able to find supporters and there
was formed "The Spirit of St. Louis Organization."

    In St. Louis Lindbergh found another "spirit." He applied to
Keystone Lodge No. 243, A.F. &A.M. for the degrees in Freemasonry.
His petition was approved. On June 9, 1926 he was Initiated an
Entered Apprentice; Passed to the Degree Of Fellowcraft on October
20, 1926; and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on
December 15, 1926. He later became a member of St. Louis Chapter No.
22, National Sojourners.

    As time went by, Lindbergh's frustration grew. It appeared
others would beat him to the "prize." But a series of misfortunes
plagued those who might have won. Finally, he found the Ryan
Aeronautical Company willing to build a plane to his specifica-
tions. In February, 1927, he traveled to San Diego to personally
supervise the building of "The Spirit of St. Louis."

    It was built. On May 10, 1927, Lindbergh left San Diego, stopped
at St. Louis, then landed at Curtis Field, Long Island, New York. He
had established another record. He had flown from coast to coast in
a mere 21 hours and 20 minutes.

    At 7:52 A.M. on May 20, 1927, The Spirit of St. Louis took off
from Roosevelt Field, New York. Thirty-three and one-half hours
later he landed near Paris, France. His average speed was a
remarkable 107.5 miles per hour. His altitude varied from 10,000
feet to 10 feet above the water.

    This memorable saga of courage, ability, and faith has been
recorded many times. It was retold many more times during the 50th
Anniversary of Lindbergh's daring and skillful feat.

    There are stories not generally known, however. T. Claude Ryan
designed "The Spirit of St. Louis." While with the Ryan Aeronautical
Company, Ryan said he was handed a telegram that read: "Can you
build airplane capable of flying New York to Paris non-stop with a
whirlwind engine?" It was signed by the airmail contract firm for
which Lindbergh worked. If Lindbergh had signed it, Ryan said he
would have thrown it in the trash.

    Ryan needed the business, so he said he did some calculating. To
his amazement he found by modifying a mail plane, and giving it
longer wings, it could be done. He wired Lindbergh to tell him he
could do it.

    Ryan said this about Lindbergh: "He was 25. Just a kid, full of
enthusiasm. He talked St. Louis bankers and businessmen into putting
up the money, and he stayed and watched every move that was made."

    Lindbergh asked Ryan what his chances of flying the Atlantic
were. "I figured he had less than a 50-50 chance of making it, but
improved the percentage for his sake. I told him I thought he a 75
percent chance of making it. And Lindbergh replied: I figured.' He
was perfectly willing to put his life on line on a 75-25 percent

    Receptions and honors followed quickly. The French government
acclaimed him. He was presented with civilian and military honors.
He was cheered and honored in Brussels. He was received by the King
of England, decorated, then given a citywide welcome.

    Lindbergh was brought back to the United States aboard the
U.S.S. Memphis. He was greeted by President Coolidge and presented
with the Distinguished Flying Cross. Other citations were numerous.
Miles of marching men, flying flags, and bands joined him in the
most famous of New York's "confetti parades."

    The solo Atlantic crossing had made Lindbergh wealthy and
famous, but he didn't rest on these laurels. He continued to work to
build the image of aviation. He made a spectacular tour by air of 75
American cities. One of these cities was St. Louis. There he was
greeted by the members of his Masonic Lodge.

    From the records of Keystone Lodge No. 243 comes the account
of the "Lindbergh Night." It took place on February 15, 1928, and
will long be remembered by those Freemasons who were not yet born.
Those who were there passed along to those who came later the
triumph of that evening.

    More than 300 Masons were present, including Grand Master
Anthony F. Ittner, when the Lodge opened at 7:30 P.M. Because it
wasn't certain that Lindbergh could be present, the Master Mason
Degree was conferred by "The Boosters," a highly acclaimed
ritualistic team.

    Charles Lindbergh did make it and was escorted into the Lodge.
The Master warmly greeted this distinguished member, related with
pride many of Lindbergh's accomplishments, and praised him for his
service to his fellowman.

     After the applause had diminished, the Grand Master added his
welcome and presented Lindbergh with an engrossed Gold
Card---Keystone Lodge No. 243 had made the hero of the occasion a
Life Member. Then a short recess was called to allow those in
attendance to greet their world-famous member.

    A Past Grand officer who was present on that occasion told John
Black Vrooman that Lindbergh had one request to make. His hand was
sore and he asked that they please touch him on the shoulder so his
hand might have a rest. The men couldn't resist the temptation to
shake his hand, so in desperation Lindbergh stepped behind the
Secretary's desk for "protection."

    Soon after this reception, Lindbergh made an air tour of Cen-
tral and South America. He must have been welcomed by Freemasons
along the way, because Keystone Lodge received a letter from Lodge
Libertad No. 20 of the Gran Logia de la Republica Dominicana dated
April 10, 1928:

    "Dear Brothers: In this same mail we are sending a picture of
the act of investing Brother CHARLES A. LINDBERGH, of that Lodge
with the honor of Honorary Member of our Lodge Libertad No. 20.

    "The great miracle of approaching two worlds was reserved to the
youthful son of that Lodge. But we are contemplating now the greater
miracle of the permanent fraternal relations between Lodges of this
country and those of the country from which the King of the Air

    Lindbergh  became  a  consultant  to  the  Guggenheim
Aeronautical Foundation. Later he joined Pan Am.

    On May 27, 1929, Lindbergh married Anne Morrow. In an effort
to protect their privacy, he built a home in Hopewell, New Jersey.
It was from there that their 20 month old son, Charles, was kidnaped
and murdered in March, 1932. This event changed their lives. To what
extent no one will ever know. But it did cause them to flee to
England in search of peace.

    Lindbergh, by invitation of the United States Embassy in Ger-
many, visited that country in May, 1936. He had a first-hand look at
the Nazi war machine, and understood its implications as perhaps few
could. Two years later he suggested it wouldn't be wise for
unprepared France and England to oppose the Hitlerites at this
time." The resulting turmoil caused him to resign as colonel; he
won the anger of Franklin D. Roosevelt, another Freemason.

    After Pearl Harbor was bombed, Lindbergh offered his services
to his country. Roosevelt turned him down, and put pressure on the
aviation industry to keep him out. Henry Ford, a member of Palestine
Lodge No. 357, Detroit, and who disliked Roosevelt, a member of
Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City, gave Lindbergh a job as a
technical consultant.

    In 1944, as a civilian, Lindbergh flew at least 50 combat mis-
sions in the Pacific theater. After the war ended he stayed out of
political controversies. He worked with the Army as a trouble-
shooter, and would accept no pay. Later he turned to ecology.

    Late in 1973 Lindbergh learned he was suffering from terminal
lymphatic cancer. He returned to Maui, Hawaii, where at 7:15 in the
morning of August 26, 1974, he died.

    At the age of 72 he left this earth, but the accomplishments of
Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., Master Mason, aviator, scientist, hus-
band and father will live on.