BY STEVE BUTLER
ON MAY 22, 1927 at 10:22 p.m. Elizabeth’s wait at the airfield for the arrival of an unusual flight from the United States ended. The Spirit of St. Louis had just emerged from the darkness to touch down at Le Bourget Field in Paris 33 hours and 30 minutes after leaving Roosevelt Field in Garden City, New York.
Shortly thereafter twenty-five year old Charles A. Lindbergh stepped down from his single-seat monoplane, a highly modified Ryan-2 aircraft fitted with a Wright J-5C radial engine.
Elizabeth was one of 150,000 witnesses to Lindbergh’s claim to the $25,000 prize offered by Raymond Orteig, a New York hotel owner, for the first “Allied” aviator to fly non-stop flight between New York and Paris in either direction. Lindbergh would subsequently be awarded the Medal of Honor and become the most famous pilot in history. His plane was flown from France to Belgium and shipped home aboard the USS Memphis.
Thereafter, Lindbergh and his Ryan NYP (New York, Paris) would participate in several victory tours of sorts. Then on April 30, 1928 the plane bearing government registration N-X-211 was flown from St. Louis to Bolling Field in Washington D.C. to be presented for enshrinement at the Smithsonian Institution. It remains there today as one of the Smithsonian’s most prized exhibits.