In May 1927, American pilot Charles Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Field in Paris, successfully completing the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight and the first ever nonstop flight between New York to Paris. His single-engine monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis, had taken off from Roosevelt Field in New York 33 1/2 hours before.
Charles Lindbergh was born in Detroit in 1902 and began flying at the age of 20. In 1924, he joined the army flying school in Texas and graduated at the top of his class. He became an airmail pilot in 1926 and pioneered the route between St. Louis and Chicago.
In June 1919, the British fliers John W. Alcock and Arthur W. Brown made the first nonstop transatlantic flight, flying 1,960 miles from Newfoundland to Ireland. The flight from New York to Paris would be almost twice that distance.
Lindbergh's aircraft was called The Spirit of St. Louis, and on May 12, 1927, Lindbergh flew it from San Diego to New York, setting a new record for the fastest transcontinental flight. Bad weather delayed Lindbergh’s transatlantic attempt for a week. On the night of May 19, his nervousness and a newspaperman’s noisy poker game kept him up all night. Early the next morning, although he hadn’t slept, the skies were clear and he rushed to Roosevelt Field on Long Island. Six men had died attempting the long and dangerous flight he was about to take.
After 24 hours in the air he saw the coast of Ireland. Despite using only rudimentary navigation, he was two hours ahead of schedule and only three miles off course. He flew past England and by 3 p.m. EST was flying over France. It was 8 p.m. in France, and night was falling.
At the Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris, tens of thousands of people had gathered to await Lindbergh’s arrival. At 10:24 a.m. local time, his grey and white monoplane came out of the darkness and made a perfect landing in the air field. He hadn’t slept for 55 hours. He was an immediate international celebrity.
His place in history, however, was not complete.
In 1932, he was the subject of international headlines again when his infant son, Charles Jr., was kidnapped and then found murdered in the woods near the Lindbergh home. German-born Bruno Richard Hauptmann was convicted of the crime in a controversial trial and then executed. Then, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Lindbergh became a spokesperson for the U.S. isolationism movement and was sharply criticized for his apparent Nazi sympathies and anti-Semitic views. However after the outbreak of World War II, the travelled to the Pacific as a military observer and eventually flew more than two dozen combat missions. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve. He died in Hawaii in 1974.
The UK elections are today! Will the Conservative party hold on to power? Will Ed Milliband become the next Prime Minister? Will the Scottish Nationalist Party increase their votes? Here is a short Youtube video that explains the possible outcomes of the election. Subtitles are available.
On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe was created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, considered a founder of modern science. Kepler is best known for his theories explaining the motion of planets.
Kepler was born on December 27, 1571, in Germany. At university, he studied the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’ theories. Copernicus (1473-1543) believed that the sun, not the earth, was the centre of the solar system. This theory contradicted the traditional view that the sun revolved around the earth.
In 1600, Kepler went to Prague to investigate the orbit of Mars. Over the next decade, Kepler learned about the work of Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who had invented a telescope with which he discovered lunar mountains and craters, the largest four satellites of Jupiter and the phases of Venus, among other things. Kepler corresponded with Galileo and eventually obtained a telescope of his own and improved upon the design.
Kepler’s research was not accepted during his lifetime, but was later a key influence on the English mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and his law of gravitational force. He died on November 15, 1630, in Regensberg, Germany. As for Kepler’s calculation about the universe’s birthday, scientists in the 20th century developed the Big Bang theory, which showed that his calculations were incorrect by about 13.7 billion years.