Sunday, November 18, 2007

Flying With Lindbergh

I finished reading The Spirit of St. Louis by Charles Lindbergh yesterday, appropriately enough as I was flying across the North Atlantic on the way home from Frankfurt (it would have been even more appropriate on the flight over to Paris, but I got sidetracked by a couple of SF books). Though the book was written more than 25 years after the 1927 event, Lindbergh's hour by hour description of his 33.5 hour solo flight from Long Island, New York to Le Bourget airport in Paris is incredibly detailed and immediate sounding. He also describes the efforts required to turn the idea of a solo flight from New York to Paris into reality, from organizing backers to help him fund the venture (total budget: $15,000), to the design and construction of the Spirit of St. Louis itself (it took less than 60 days from placing the $10,850 order to delivery of the airplane, and the first flight in San Diego in April 1927 was just a month before the actual NY-Paris flight).

Lindbergh also talks about his early life and his often hair-raising earlier aviation experiences. It's one of those books where you keep turning the pages, wanting to know what happens next, despite the fact that you know the ending. Whatever you may think about Lindbergh's later actions and political views, this 1954 Pulitzer Prize winning book is a great accomplishment and a wonderful read.

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