Tales, Truths & Tirades


“The engine’s vibrating roar throbs back through the fuselage and drums heavily on taut fabric skin. I close the throttle and look out at tense faces beside my plane. Life and death lies mirrored in them – rigid, silent, waiting for my word.”
Charles Lindbergh’s description of the moments before he took off on that heroic flight across the Atlantic still gives me goose bumps. On the 20th of May it will be exactly 90 years since The Lone Eagle became the first person to fly nonstop from New York to Paris in his single-engine monoplane, “The Spirit of St. Louis”. The flight catapulted Lindbergh to instantaneous world fame.
Ever since I’ve read his autobiographical account of those events, Charles Lindbergh has been one of my greatest heroes. Lucky Lindy was the ultimate swashbuckler. During “barnstorming” excursions through the American heartland, the young stunt pilot wowed audiences with daring displays of wing-walking, parachuting and mid-air plane changes. He had survived four plane crashes by bailing out and parachuting to safety before his record-breaking transatlantic crossing at the age of 25.
Details of the kidnapping and tragic death of Lindbergh’s son in 1932 are well known. People are also familiar with the fact that he helped invent an early artificial heart and that he played a role in the space program.
But Lindbergh also had a dark side. Nearly three decades after his death in 1974, revelations surfaced that he had engaged in lengthy adulterous relationships while he remained married to his wife, Anne Morrow. He had fathered seven children with three women in Europe between 1958 and 1967.
Less than two weeks before he died, Lindbergh wrote to each of his mistresses, imploring them to maintain the utmost secrecy about his illicit activities with them even after his death. The truth eventually came out when one of his daughters discovered snapshots and love letters from Lindbergh to her mother.
Does this in any way affect my admiration for my hero? Certainly not. Nobody is perfect. And great achievements can never be undone by character flaws. – Albé Grobbelaar