The Lone Eagle

If you have netscape 3 or the "quicktime" plug in, you can hear recordings of both Calvin Coolidge and Lindbergh himself.

When Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic in 1927, he electrified the United States and much of the world. In France, excited mobs began tearing his plane, the Spirit of Saint Louis, into souvenir pieces. In New York, a series of massive parades that went on for days greeted his arrival. More than 100 songs about Lindbergh appeared over the next few years, and "Lindy" became a virtual captive of his celebrity.

Lindbergh's amazing popularity may have stemmed from his ability to combine "aw-shucks" modesty with individual daring, and, most importantly, technological skill. In the excerpt above, taken from Calvin Coolidge's official greeting to Lindbergh on his return to New York, Coolidge lists those qualities which he thinks make Lindbergh great. (The last two are somewhat surprising). Lindbergh combined American myths of the individual with American enthusiasm for technology, reassuring citizens that technology would not destroy individualism, that it need not lead to regimentation and uniformity. The son of a Congressman, he charmed audiences with his combination of modesty and confidence, qualities you can hear in the excerpt above from his speech on returning to the United States.

Lindbergh despised the nickname "lucky Lindy," since as he saw it, luck had little to do with his success. He had planned with exceeding care, using a network of financial backers and aircraft designers to augment his many years of flying experience. In his later years he would become a strong critic of uncontrolled technological growth.