FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2004
Contact: Maribeth Cowan, Public Relations Director
(804) 342-9665 email:
Major New Exhibition at the Virginia Historical Society July 3 through September 26, 2004
Richmond, VA–In May 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh flew his airplane, the Spirit of St. Louis alone
from New York's Roosevelt Field to Le Bourget Field in Paris. This first-ever, solo transatlantic flight was a
milestone in the history of the 20th century. Due in no small part to burgeoning radio, film, and print technology,
Lindbergh was hailed a hero and quickly gained the world's adoration. The Virginia Historical Society is pleased
to announce the arrival of Lindbergh, an exceptional new exhibition produced by the Missouri Historical Society,
in St. Louis, Missouri. The traveling exhibition, launched in 2002, marks the 75th anniversary of Lindbergh's historic
transatlantic flight. The exhibition will be on view at the Virginia Historical Society from July 3 through
September 26, 2004.
Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis to Richmond, Virginia, in the fall of 1927 for the dedication of the
Richard Evelyn Byrd Field and was greeted by Lieutenant Commander Richard E. Byrd. Later Lindbergh
was escorted to the Governor's Mansion for a reception, then given the Richmond Medal of Distinguished
Service at a dinner held in his honor at the Jefferson Hotel. The Spirit of St. Louis remained on display, and
more than 50,000 people viewed it.
As part of the Richmond Lindbergh experience, the Virginia Aviation Museum is hosting Lindbergh's
Return to Richmond, an exhibition featuring more than 50 pieces of Lindbergh memorabilia on view July
3 through September 26. There you can see a Bellanca, the kind of plane Lindbergh really wanted to
fly on his historic trip, and a Curtis Jenny, the same make as the first airplane Lindbergh owned. Also
on exhibit is a Brunner-Winkle Bird biplane, the type that Lindbergh bought for his wife, Anne
Morrow Lindbergh. (vam.smv.org; 804/ 236-3622).
Sharon Smith, Bascom Curator of the Civic History Collection at the Missouri Historical Society,
will give an illustrated preview of the Lindbergh exhibition June 29 at noon at the Virginia Historical
Society. The public is invited to this lecture which is free with admission. Reservations are not required.
Lindbergh features hundreds of compelling artifacts, many on public view for the first time in decades. Visitors
may view Lindbergh's flight suit and other aviation gear from the historic transatlantic journey; the Orteig Prize
proclamation and medal (the inspiration for his famed flight); the French Legion of Honor badge; the United
States Congressional Medal of Honor; and the Distinguished Flying Cross (the first ever awarded). Also on
display will be letters; telegrams; and numerous souvenirs, crafts and handmade gifts, such as buttons, jewelry,
paintings, fan-club certificates and other items attesting to Lindbergh's worldwide popularity.
Historic film footage and radio broadcasts recapture the thrilling historic moments surrounding Lindbergh's
flight. A cross-section replica of the Spirit of St. Louis cockpit interior, complete with instrument panel and
accompanying interactive, gives visitors an understanding of the overwhelming challenges Lindbergh faced
in making the flight. Visitors can sift through a "mailbag" to read excerpts from the thousands of congratulatory
letters he received.
Interactive "Barnstormers" sidebars, designed to appeal to children and families, present information on
Lindbergh in an entertaining and educational format. A timeline chronicling national and world events places
Lindbergh and his achievements in a chronological context. The timeline includes newspaper headlines,
photographs and objects to illustrate historical events, aviation and technological advances and personal
events associated with Lindbergh's life.
Overall, Lindbergh opens a window through which visitors can view the results of the world's passion
for Charles A. Lindbergh. The exhibition is an opportunity not only to remember his transatlantic feat,
but also the man—to examine and re-evaluate the world's response to him and his accomplishments.
In 1926, 25-year-old Minnesota native Charles A. Lindbergh, who flew an airmail route between St. Louis
and Chicago, was determined to win the coveted $25,000 Orteig Prize, offered to the first aviator(s) to fly nonstop
between New York and Paris. Lindbergh's enthusiasm ignited interest in several St. Louis businessmen, who
willingly lent their influence and funding to the daring young aviator. Lindbergh teamed with Ryan Airlines of
San Diego to build a suitable aircraft. To conserve weight in order for the airplane to carry more precious fuel,
Lindbergh specified that the airplane, with a steel tube, wood and cloth body, would have no navigation lights,
fuel gauges or radio, and carry no parachute. The airplane was christened "The Spirit of St. Louis" to honor
his financial supporters and their hometown's commitment to progress and the future.
Lindbergh climbed into the Spirit of St. Louis at rain-dampened Roosevelt Field in New York on the morning
of May 20, 1927. He was an unknown considered at best a "dark horse with great possibilities." More established
pilots had crashed or been lost at sea while attempting the same journey. Lindbergh nearly crashed during takeoff,
clearing trees and telephone lines by only 20 feet as he struggled against a hazardous tailwind.
Lindbergh had slept only two hours on the eve of his flight. Soaring at 10,000 feet, he battled to stay awake
and alert. Lindbergh, having decided that a larger gas tank was more critical than a windshield, could not see directly
in front of the plane; he relied on a homemade periscope to determine his location.
Lindbergh's 3,600-mile, 33 1/2-hour adventure ended when he safely landed at Le Bourget Field in Paris where
150,000 people cheered his arrival. The press immediately heralded Lindbergh as the finest example of humanity
the United States had to offer. The subsequent global media blitz and public adoration swirling around Lindbergh
was unlike anything the world had ever experienced. Lindbergh was the first international celebrity.
Lindbergh received hundreds of medals from governments and organizations across the world, keys
to major cities, and gifts from dignitaries and civic leaders, including celestial and terrestrial globes presented
by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Inspired by Lindbergh's astounding achievement, ordinary
citizens and small businesses worldwide showered him and his family with handmade gifts, including a silver,
rhinestone-studded model of the "Spirit of St. Louis," white kid gloves bearing Lindbergh's photograph and
a crocheted "Spirit of St. Louis."
The Lindbergh Collection
The Missouri Historical Society received national attention in 1927 when Lindbergh agreed to lend his
trophies, medals and gifts to the institution for a ten-day period. The Missouri Historical Society exhibited
the trophies and memorabilia on top of the archaeological cases in an attempt to display the items as
quickly as possible. The exhibition opened on June 25, 1927, and a local newspaper estimated that
116,000 people viewed the Lindbergh items during the first four days of the exhibition. The exhibition's
popularity led to Lindbergh agreeing to extend the loan of the collection. Five years later, Charles
and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, donated the extensive collection to the Missouri Historical
Society. The Lindbergh Collection consists of hundreds of trophies, gifts, and documents
presented to Lindbergh during his lifetime and posthumously.
Forty-Eight State Tour
After the glory of his transatlantic flight, Lindbergh served as an aviation ambassador. Flying
the Spirit of St. Louis, he embarked on a tour of the United States with stops in all of the then
continental 48 states during the late summer and early autumn of 1927. A 20 by 14-foot floor map
of the route allows exhibition visitors to follow Lindbergh's grueling schedule of 22,350 air miles,
75 cities, 69 banquets and 1,285 miles worth of parades. Citizens in each state bestowed on him
new honors and gifts. Many of these items will be in the exhibition, such as a beautiful turquoise
and silver thunderbird pendant from New Mexico, gold-plated membership cards from numerous
organizations, a leather case of fishing lures from Montana and a silver "loving cup" from the motion
picture, "Fraternity," bearing engraved signatures from Hollywood celebrities of the day.
The exhibition highlights Charles A. Lindbergh's marriage and partnership to Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
The world viewed Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who served as chief navigator during their travels
together, as glamorous adventurers who trekked to Japan, Brazil and Argentina. Lindbergh traced the many
world travels he and Anne shared on a large globe, a wedding gift from Ryan Airlines owner Benjamin
Franklin Mahoney. Several souvenirs from their far-flung travels are on view in the exhibition, including
a kayak from Greenland and a rare rug from China depicting the couple's flight to eastern Asia. The
exhibition also features private family artifacts, such as Anne Morrow Lindbergh's wedding trousseau.
Lindbergh examines both Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's successful careers as best-selling
authors. He penned Of Flight and Life, The Spirit of St. Louis and We, plus wartime journals and many
newspaper and magazine articles. Anne authored the perennial bestseller Gift from the Sea and numerous
other literary works. Exhibition visitors will have the opportunity to view a rare galley proof bearing
Lindbergh's handwritten notes of his manuscript, We. The exhibition also examines the dark side of
Lindbergh's fame: the media frenzy surrounding the tragic kidnapping and murder of Charles and Anne's
toddler, Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr.
The exhibition frankly addresses the controversies surrounding Lindbergh and his isolationist stance during
WWII. As Europe teetered on the edge of war, Lindbergh, following in the footsteps of his isolationist father,
spoke out against United States involvement in the conflict. His earlier acceptance of Japanese and German
Nazi medals and his refusal to return the medals led many former admirers to question his loyalty to the
United States. Furthermore, many people labeled Lindbergh a traitor for his support of the isolationist
organization, America First. Yet, people who shared his isolationist views hailed him a hero. Exhibition
visitors will hear and read Lindbergh's America First speeches, which led to accusations of anti-Semitism
and disloyalty to the United States.
Contributions: Aviation and Beyond
One cannot overestimate Charles A. Lindbergh's impact on aviation. After his historic flight, the number
of pilots in the United States quadrupled, airmail became an invaluable service, and people began to view
commercial air travel as a safe, reliable mode of transportation. Lindbergh dispelled the notion that aviation
was a fad; he proved that aviation was the future.
Visitors will also discover more about Lindbergh's awareness of numerous environmental issues. He championed
conservation causes, such as the battle to save the whales off the coasts of Japan and Peru. Lindbergh's scientific
knowledge contributed to lifesaving medical advancements, and his ingenious work with Dr. Alexis Carrel
developed the precursor to the artificial heart. Lindbergh was also an early supporter of pioneering rocket
scientist Robert H. Goddard.
The world's fascination with Lindbergh endures; Jimmy Stewart portrayed Lindbergh in the 1957
film The Spirit of St. Louis; Scott Berg's best-selling biography, Lindbergh, won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize,
and currently more than 30,000 web sites are devoted to Lindbergh. The Missouri Historical Society's
Lindbergh exhibition provides visitors with an opportunity to examine the effect his achievement had
on the world and wonder at the unprecedented global response that made him into a 20th-century icon.
Lindbergh is produced by the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, Missouri, and is presented by
Boeing-McDonnell Foundation and Edward Jones. Lindbergh is presented in Richmond, Virginia, in
cooperation with the Virginia Aviation Museum and with support from Mr. and Mrs. T. Fleetwood
Garner. Additional support provided by Chick-fil-A, and Target.
The Virginia Historical Society is located at 428 N. Boulevard. The Story of Virginia, An American Experience,
a 10,000-square-foot exhibition with more than a thousand objects covering all of Virginia history from prehistoric
times to the present is featured in the Robins Center for Virginia History. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am - 5pm
and Sunday 1pm - 5pm (Museum Galleries only). Admission: $5/adults, $4/seniors 55+ ($2/Tuesdays–galleries
only), $3/children and students, free/members. Admission to the galleries is free on Mondays. For group tour
information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, please call (804) 358-4901 or visit