Posted by: skyward | September 13, 2008

Love Lindy?

http://www.LOVELINDY.  (emphasis added)   — Yes, this is the URL for this blog.  To be honest, I often regret this choice.

As you may know, “Lucky Lindy” was one of the many nicknames thrust upon our hero, Charles Lindbergh.   I’m keenly aware that Lindbergh himself shunned, if not detested, this widely used nickname. (Despite my regret, I will continue to use the same URL simply for convenience’s sake. )

Reading Lindbergh’s memoir, The Spirit of St. Louis, one readily recognizes how inappropriate, and even absurd, it is to use an adjective such as “lucky”, when referring to the aviator’s solo journey across the Atlantic.

The following is an excerpt from Soaring with Daniel, an essay I wrote as a birthday gift for my co-blogger:

From beyond the sky, Lindbergh continues to speak, stirring deep emotions within us and giving us a fresh appreciation of the timeless lesson: hard work and determination lays the foundation for success — and ultimately, for a meaningful contribution to mankind.  History was made overnight, proclaim some authors, referring to the span of thirty-three and one-half hours that gave worldwide acclaim to an obscure airmail pilot.   No, no, no —Daniel and I shake our heads.   The legend began long before the pilot’s ascent into the air.  When he visited one investor after another, persuading them to support his venture.   When he painstakingly helped design an ideal plane, with a keen eye for detail.  When he cut out redundant pages from his books of maps, discarding every ounce of extra weight so that the plane could carry additional fuel.   Lindbergh toiled tirelessly and meticulously as if to perfect the art of planning. (post containing the whole essay)

I especially like imagining Lindbergh cutting out redundant pages from his maps. Talk about perfectionism!  “A plane that’s got to break the world’s record for nonstop flying should be stripped of every excess ounce of weight.”  (The Spirit of St. Louis, p. 17)

Compare this perfectionist approach to the “Fonck project.”  (Rene Fonck was one of Lindbergh’s  competitors in the transatlantic race; determined to win the Raymond Orteig Prize, multiple aviators aimed to be the first to cross the Atlantic nonstop.)

The Fonck team, a crew of four, sought to fly a biplane whose cabin had been luxuriously finished in red leather, even containing a bed.  Also, there were long-wave and short-wave radio sets, and special bags for flotation in case of a landing at sea.  Even harder to believe: there were presents for friends in Europe, a basket of French croissants (!), and a hot dinner to be eaten in celebration after the landing in Paris.  Their plane crashed.

Lindbergh took off, carrying only five sandwiches for food.  “If I get to Paris, I won’t need any more. And if I don’t get to Paris, I won’t need any more, either,” he remarked matter-of-factly.

Thirty-three and one-half hours later, he gloriously flew into the lights of Paris.


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