On 21st May 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew from Long Island, New York (USA) to Le Bourget, Paris (FRA) in his aeroplane 'Spirit of St. Louis'. Lindbergh was at the time a US Air Mail pilot but this epic non-stop solo flight shot him to fame and was to be the start of a long and highly distinguised career promoting aviation.
The route from New York to Paris was chosen because of the Orteig prize; $25,000 offered by the New York hotelier Raymond Orteig for the first aviator to fly in either direction between the two cities. Lindbergh was an unknown outsider for the prize, competing against many more experienced, better financed and older aviators - he was, after all, only 25 at the time. Lindbergh started construction of the 'Spirit', a single engine, high wing Ryan NYP monoplane, in February 1927. Laden with 450 gallons of fuel, "Spirit" successfully took off from Roosevelt field in the early morning of 20th May. Over the next 33 hours, Lindbergh battled through appalling weather, flying blindly through fog for several hours and using celestial navigation when stars were in view. Upon landing in Paris, Lindbergh was instantly hailed as a hero by the estimated 150,000 spectators; a common man who had fought for a major aviation prize against better equipped opponents, and he had won. The effects of Lindbergh's efforts were plain to see. Interest in aviation grew enormously, particularly among the less wealthy classes. Suddenly aviators were no longer considered as the elite but instead aviation became more achievable. Lindbergh went on to win many awards, including FAI's highest award, the FAI Gold Medal. His aeroplane, "Spirit of St. Louis" is now displayed in the National Air and Space Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C (USA). Charles Lindbergh's signature in FAI's Livre d'Or.