At 7.52am on May 20th 1927, Charles Lindbergh gunned the engine of the "Spirit of St Louis" and aimed her down the dirt runway of Roosevelt Field, Long Island, USA. Heavily laden with fuel, the plane bounced down the muddy field, gradually became airborne and just about cleared the telephone wires at the end of the field. A small crowd of 500 well-wishers thought they had witnessed a miracle. On the evening of May 21st, he crossed the coast of France, followed the River Seine and after 33.5 hrs and 3500 miles, he touched down at Le Bourget Field, Paris at 10.22pm where he was mobbed by a crowd of 100,000. Lindbergh - "The Lone Eagle" - the first to fly across the atlantic solo, became an instant hero.
On his return to the USA, New York City gave him the largest ticker tape parade ever and the president awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross. More importantly, Lindbergh was the inspiration for aviators all over the world to test man and machine to their limit.
On May 21st 1932, the 5th anniversary of Lindberg's Atlantic flight , Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 14hrs and 56min. She was awarded the National Geographic Society's gold medal from President Herbert Hoover and Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross. The world's most famous female aviator disappeared in 1937 as she attempted to become the first woman to fly around the world. She was last heard from on July 2nd 1937, about 100 miles from the tiny Pacific atoll of Howland Island. President Roosevelt authorised an immediate search but no trace was ever found of Eahart or her navigator, Fred Noonan. The disappearance of Amelia Earhart has spawned almost as many conspiracy theories as the Lindbergh kidnapping and the Kennedy assasination.