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NY to Paris: Prize-Winning US Pilot Goes the Distance!

Traversée de l'Atlantique par Charles Lindberg...

Spirit of St. Louis. Image via Wikipedia

May 22, 1927

by Amanda Stanley

It all started eight years ago in 1919. Raymond Orteig decided to start a contest with a prize of $25,000 for the first person who could fly nonstop from New York to Paris, France. Orteig gave the contest five years, but no one accomplished the task in that time. So, in 1926 Orteig extended the contest for five more years with the hope that someone would be successful. Charles Lindbergh decided he was going to figure out how to make a plan to fly nonstop to win the prize within the next five years. Lindbergh was lucky because over the five years that no one was successful with the goal, there were great advances in airplane technology. Lindbergh figured that his chances were a lot higher in being able to build a plane that could go over the Atlantic Ocean nonstop.

Charles Lindbergh (left) and Raymond Orteig (r...

Charles Lindbergh with Raymond Orteig. Image via Wikipedia

Lindbergh got businessmen from St. Louis to help pay for the making of the new plane. The St. Louis Flying Club gave Lindbergh $15,000 towards making a new plane. Lindbergh believed that the best chance for a long distance plane would be to make it light and fuel-efficient. So, he decided to build a single-engine plane and to fly it alone for less weight. Even though many aviators of the time were building three-engine planes, Lindbergh thought that three engines tripled the engine-failure rate. That is why he decided to build a single-engine plane. After working on the new plane’s design, Lindbergh decided to test fly it a long distance from San Diego to New York. The test flight was successful, and Lindbergh even made a record for flight time for that distance: 20 hours and 21 minutes! America’s very own pilot made a world record. Lindbergh named his plane, “The Spirit of St. Louis” after the men that helped finance the project.

Two days ago, on May 20, Lindbergh took off from New York at about 8:00am. He landed in Paris on May 21 at about 5:30pm US time. Lindbergh is the first successful flier of the distance from New York to Paris nonstop! The distance was approximately 3,600 miles and it took Lindbergh 33 1/2 hours to fly it. Orteig finally had a winner of his aviator contest, almost a decade after it was proposed!


1. “The Spirit of St. Louis.” 1999. People’s Broadcasting Service. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/lindbergh/sfeature/spirit.html

2. “Charles Lindbergh: An American Aviator.” 2007. http://www.charleslindbergh.com/history/index.asp



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