Charles A. Lindbergh, a native of Little Falls, became a world-famous aviator after completing the first nonstop, solo transatlantic flight in May 1927.
He attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for three semesters, then enrolled at the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation's flying school. He spent time on the barnstorming circuit before purchasing his first plane, a Curtiss JN4-D, commonly called a “Jenny.” He graduated at the top of his class from Army Flying School and became an airmail pilot before learning of the $25,000 prize that he eventually won for his New York-to-Paris flight.
Tragedy struck the Charles and his wife, Anne, in March 1932 when their first child, 20-month-old Charlie, was kidnapped from the family home in New Jersey. The child’s body was found two months after he was taken.
In 1936, an American military attaché invited Lindbergh to Germany to help gather intelligence about the Third Reich. At a dinner in Berlin, the German Air Minister surprised Lindbergh with an award for his services to aviation. Many saw Lindbergh’s acceptance of the "Nazi medal" as a sign of his sympathies with the Third Reich, and he was vilified in the American press. He made speeches on behalf of the America First Committee, a nationwide organization that opposed American intervention in the war. The press and many members of the public accused Lindbergh of injecting anti-Semitism into his argument for neutrality, a claim that he denied.
Lindbergh later served on the board of directors for Pan American Airways and developed a passion for protecting the environment. He wrote The Spirit of St. Louis, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for autobiography in 1954. He died in Hawaii on August 26, 1974.