Anne Morrow Lindbergh
A consummate diarist, Anne recorded all her impressions of the Canada-to-China trip that she made with her husband Charles. When North to the Orient was published in 1935 and immediately became a best-seller, Anne had found her niche. Her destiny was to become America’s poetic voice for aviation.
- In 1928, she and her husband Charles Lindbergh traced the first transcontinental air-mail passenger service routes, participated in the Pan American expansion in the Caribbean, and made aerial observation of Mayan ruins.
- In 1930, was the first woman to receive a U.S. glider pilot license.
- In 1932, surveyed an air route to the Orient and earned her radio operators license.
- Surveyed transatlantic routes in 1933, covering 19,000 miles and touching 23 countries.
- She wrote several books on aviation documenting her flights with her husband and her love for aviation.
- Prior to World War II she was co-pilot with her husband making trips to Germany, the Middle East and Russia.
Anne Morrow’s remarkable career in aviation started in 1927 after Charles Lindbergh made his epic solo flight across the Atlantic to Paris and returned to a ticker tape parade and a White House dinner. Among President Coolidge’s guests was Anne’s father, Dwight Morrow. Lindbergh greatly impressed him and later, while serving as Ambassador to Mexico, Morrow convinced him to make a goodwill flight to Mexico City. Upon arrival in the ancient Mexican city, Lindbergh received a roaring welcome and was a guest of the Morrows at the American Embassy.
That night Anne wrote in her diary of their first meeting: “It was breath-taking. I could not speak. What kind of boy is this?” Then, after Lindbergh took her up for her first flight, she penned: “I will not be happy until it happens again.” Later, after he flew on to several Central American countries, she wrote: “The idea of this dear, direct, straight boy how it has swept out of sight all the other men I have known. All my life, in fact my world, my little embroidery beribboned world is smashed. I must have been walking with my head down looking at puddles for twenty years!”
After Anne graduated from Smith College in 1928, with awards for her literary works, she began to visit a small airfield and go up for flights. Months later, when Charles phoned and invited her to go flying, she was thrilled, especially after he let her handle the plane’s controls.
Romance blossomed rapidly between Anne and Charles after they met again in Mexico City and went flying. There, just after the announcement of their engagement, he took her for another flight and they landed on a prairie for a picnic. But on the return takeoff, a wheel came off and the plane turned turtle on landing. Anne was not injured, but Charles dislocated a shoulder.
In May 1929, Anne and Charles married and slipped away for a honeymoon aboard a cabin cruiser. But the media soon discovered them, using aircraft and boats in attempts to get pictures. It was the beginning of a life together constantly pried open to public view, one with which they will have great difficulty coping. Following their honeymoon, Anne and Charles helped to inaugurate Trans-continental Air Transport’s first combined air-rail service between Los Angeles and New York. After screen star Mary Pickford christened the Ford trimotor, Anne was among the passengers as Charles piloted the history-making flight from Los Angeles to Winslow, Arizona and back.
While flying home to New Jersey in their Falcon, Anne and Charles sighted Pueblo Indian ruins high on the cliffs of Arizona’s Canyon De Chelly. They landed and photographed the ruins with staff members of the Carnegie Institute. These ruins had never before been visited by white men and thus demonstrated the value of aircraft in archaeological work. In the Fall of 1929, Charles accepted Juan Trippe’s offer to become Chief Consulting Engineer for Pan American Airways and help expand its air routes deeper into the Caribbean. Anne and Charles, along with Betty and Juan Trippe, were among the venturesome passengers that flew to Puerto Rico, where they boarded two Pan Am amphibians and pioneered the new route on to St. Thomas, Trinidad, Dutch Guyana, Venezuela, Columbia and Panama. Afterwards, Anne and Charles joined other members of the Lindbergh-Carnegie Maya expedition, and took the first comprehensive aerial photographs of the old empire ruins of the Maya civilization in Guatemala and Mexico.
The Lindberghs were in California to purchase a new airplane and take part in the inaugural flight of Maddux Line’s Ford trimotor between San Diego and Los Angeles in 1930. Later they went soaring and Anne became the first woman in the United States to obtain a glider pilot license. She also studied aerial navigation under Harold Gatty, who would later gain fame by flying around the world with Wiley Post.
On Easter Sunday, 1930, the Lindberghs roared eastward in their new Lockheed Sirius as Anne navigated the course, including a single refueling stop in Wichita. When they landed at Newark, they had set a new transcontinental record. As navigator, Anne set a new woman’s record for coast-to-coast flight.
June 22nd, 1930 was Anne’s 24th birthday and the day she gave birth to a son, Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr. Soon afterwards, Juan Trippe asked the Lindberghs to make a survey of the great circle route from New York to Tokyo via the Arctic. The challenge was irresistible and to prepare for the flight, Charles gave Anne flying lessons. When she soloed she felt absolute exhilaration. By the time she learned to operate the radio, send Morse code and pass her operator’s exam, she had gained enormous confidence in her ability to carry her weight as a flight crew member.
In July 1931, the Lindberghs took off from Washington, DC, flew to New York, and stopped at North Haven, Maine, Anne’s parents’ summer home. Then it was on to Ottawa, where experienced bush pilots tried to dissuade them from the great circle route. But they persisted because it was the shortest way to East Asia. As they flew North, with stops along Hudson Bay and fringes of the Arctic Ocean, Anne kept in radio contact with remote settlements in this Land of the Midnight Sun. At Barrow, Alaska, they learned that their refueling ship was ice bound in the Bering Sea and were forced to head for Nome with a marginal supply of fuel. Enroute, Anne learned by radio it would be night when they expect to arrive, so Charles landed and they spent the night on the waters of Shishmaref Inlet. The next day they landed near Nome and were refueled by dog sled from the Pan Am cache.
The Lindberghs flew across the Bering Sea to Siberia. Enroute to Japan, bad weather forced a landing on the open sea and they slept in the plane. Fortunately, they reached Japan safely where they were treated like royalty. When the Lindberghs reached China, disastrous floods were sweeping the Nanking area, and immediately they volunteered to fly medical aid to isolated villages. Moving upstream to Hankow, the Lindberghs flew mercy missions from a British aircraft carrier and Anne became the first woman ever embarked on it. Unfortunately, while being lowered into the swift current of the Yangtze River, their seaplane was tossed on its back and became a total loss.
The Lindberghs suffered a cruel bereavement when two year old Charles, Jr., was kidnapped. It left a lasting emotional scar, but part of the sorrow was softened when Anne gave birth to a second son, Jon.
Anne and Charles were ready for another extensive survey flight – this time of transatlantic air routes to Europe for Pan Am. In early July 1933, they took off from New York and headed for North Haven, Maine, where they left Jon with Anne’s mother. Then they journeyed north, with stops at Halifax, Nova Scotia, St. Johns, Newfoundland, and lonely outposts in Labrador, before crossing the treacherous Davis Straits to Godthaab, Greenland, where villagers turned out to greet them. After visiting Holsteinborg on Greenland’s West coast, Anne and Charles crossed the great icecap covering the heart of Greenland and touched down at Ella Island on its East coast. They were within 16 degrees of the North Pole when they turn south. They sight uncharted mountain ranges, soon landing at Angmagssalik. There a Greenlandic boy christened their plane “Ting-Miss-Ar-Toq”, meaning “The one who flies like a big bird.”
The Lindbergh’s headed for volcanic Iceland and, after surveying its rugged shores, flew on to the Faeroe and Shetland islands, before landing at Copenhagen, Denmark where a gala reception awaited them. Next, they made stops in Stockholm, Helsinki, and Leningrad before spending a week in Moscow. Then it was on to Estonia and Norway, before landing in England, where they visited Anne’s sister in Wales. They spent the next few weeks flying around Europe. From Lisbon, Portugal, they made a nine-hour flight out to the Azores, island stepping stones to Europe. Enroute, Anne operated the radio and added to her hours at the controls. Their next stop was at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
After stops in Spanish Sahara and the Cape Verdes Islands, the Lindberghs landed at Bathurst in Gambia, where they prepared for the dangerous flight across the South Atlantic. When they attempted a takeoff it became obvious that the plane was overloaded. In desperation, Charles removed a fuel tank, extra food, equipment and clothing, enough to enable him to coax the reluctant seaplane off the bay waters. As they flew out to sea, Anne attempted to establish radio contact with stations on the distant South American coast. At 3 A.M., she made her first contact. After 16 hours in the air, they landed safely at Natal, Brazil.
Turning Northward, the Lindberghs stopped at Manaos, deep in the Brazilian jungle. Continuing on, they set a course that would take them on to Miami, Florida. Finally they landed on New York’s Flushing Bay, the place from where they had left five months before. The Lindberghs had completed one of the most remarkable air journeys of all time, one that touched 23 countries and covered 29,000 miles. For Anne, much of the time she spent in the air counted toward her transport pilot license. For her part in the survey flights to the Orient and to Europe, she received the Hubbard Gold Medal, the highest honor of the National Geographic Society.
In a search for a more private life together, Anne and Charles moved to the Morrow home in Maine. There Anne completed her first book, North to the Orient. But privacy was not possible for them in the United States and they sailed to England where they establish their home, “Long Barn,” in Kent. Charles ordered a new Miles “Mohawk” for his and Anne’s use.
At the request of the U.S. military attaché, the Lindberghs flew to Berlin to review the growing German Luftwaffe for the U.S. war department n July 1936. There they lunched with German aviation experts. Air Marshall and Mrs. Hermann Goering and Charles inspected the Luftwaffe’s newest planes, equipment and training facilities, heretofore secret information which he later transmitted to the British Minister of Defense.
Anne and Charles began a flight tour to India in their new plane. Their route took them to Italy into Sicily, where they explored ancient temples. Flying across the Mediterranean, they stopped briefly in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. Then they flew across Palestine to ancient Babylon. In India, they toured Jodhpur, Karachi and Calcutta.
In May 1937, Anne gave birth to a third son, Land. At the end of summer she and Charles flew to Munich to attend the annual dinner of the Lilienthal Society and to continue investigation of the Luftwaffe for the U.S. Army intelligence. After Anne and Charles returned to the United States to visit family and friends, they sailed back to England on the day that the Nazis marched into Austria. In England, Anne completed her second book, Listen! The Wind. Soon afterwards, she and Charles purchased a small island, Illiec, on France’s coast of Brittany. They expended a great deal of effort making its old stone house livable, because it offered them a safe haven for a growing family.
At the request of the U.S. air attaché in London, the Lindberghs flew to Russia to assess Soviet airpower for U.S. Army intelligence. There Charles inspected aviation facilities and Anne visited schools, museums and art galleries. Everywhere they went they received enthusiastic receptions during stops in Romania, Czechoslovakia and Germany. Charles gave the American ambassadors and England a candid assessment of European air power. On a return trip to Berlin in October 1938, Hermann Goering suddenly presented to Charles a medal making him a “Knight Of the German Eagle.” Anne called it “The Albatross”, for many soon accused him of being pro-German. By now, the Lindberghs knew that war in Europe was inevitable and returned to the United States, bringing to an end two years of family happiness that they had never known before. They learned the hard lesson that privacy and peace are not enough.
Not long afterwards, Anne and Charles watched a huge Pan American Clipper take off with the first airmail to Europe, following a route they pioneered over the Atlantic. It was a moment of quiet pride and satisfaction for both.
It is true that marriage has made Anne Morrow Lindbergh part of a modern legend. But it is equally true that through hard, persistent work both as a member of a flight crew, and as an authoress she greatly increased public awareness and appreciation of air travel.
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