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Charles Lindbergh - Flight Across the Atlantic. General Interest 1927 Lindbergh lands in Paris Share this: facebook twitter google+ PRINT CITE American pilot Charles A. Lindbergh lands at Le Bourget Field in Paris, successfully completing the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight and the first ever nonstop flight between New York to Paris. His single-engine monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis, had lifted off from Roosevelt Field in New York 33 1/2 hours before.

Charles Lindbergh – Flight Across the Atlantic.?1927.?American pilot Charles A. Lindbergh lands at Le Bourget Field in Paris, successfully completing the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight and the first ever nonstop flight between New York to Paris. His single-engine monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis, had lifted off from Roosevelt Field in New York 33 1/2 hours before.

Charles Lindbergh?s Secret German Mistresses

When Charles Lindbergh died in Maui in 1974?by then an environmentalist so dedicated he refused burial with any article of clothing that might contaminate the earth?there seemed little new of consequence left to discover about the once world-celebrated aviator. Lindbergh in fact lived an extraordinarily active romantic life, particularly in the period beginning in 1957 and extending nearly till his death.

Lucky Lindy (as he hated being called) had, by the time that period ended, fathered a total of seven children by three different German women (in addition to the six he had fathered by Anne Morrow Lindbergh). The score card is impressive.

In August of 2003, three German siblings, Dyrk, Astrid, and David Hesshaimer made a startling announcement at a press conference in Munich: Charles Lindbergh, America?s national hero after he became the first pilot to fly across the Atlantic in 1927, was their father. As evidence, the three Hesshaimers, then ranging in age from 36 to 45, whipped out more than 100 love letters that the aviator had sent to their mother, Brigitte, from the late 1950s until his death in 1974. A DNA test taken a few months later confirmed their assertion. This revelation turned out to be just one of many secrets that Lindbergh had kept from the world. As the trio noted in a book that they co-authored with a German journalist the following year, Lindbergh had also engaged in long-term relationships with two other German women, with whom he had fathered four other children.

All three women apparently knew about Lindbergh’s romances with the other women and more or less tolerated it. “It was a secret menage ? quatre, a four-way relationship that only Lindbergh knew the exact details about.

Lindbergh “came and went as he pleased” during the last 17 years of his life, spending between three to five days with his Munich family about four to five times each year.

Lindbergh fell from grace during the Second World War and after his death; his secret private life was discovered.

The German biography made headlines all over Europe, but fell on strangely deaf ears in America.

The book,?America?s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy That Built a Nation, no American publisher wanted anything to do with it. In fact, except for a couple of articles in?The?New York Times?immediately following the initial revelations a decade ago, the American press has said nary a word.

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The Lindbergh kidnapping case was one of the most passionately followed events in the journalistic history. The trial of the kidnapper of the baby (and its eventual murderer) Bruno Richard Hauptmann in Flemington, New Jersey turned the small town into a three-ring media circus. However, when Hauptmann (arrowed in above picture) was brought to court, the presiding judge Thomas W. Trenchard announced that no pictures were to be made in the court during the session. However, the press desperately wanted a ?verdict photo??and the press usually gets what it wants. Newsphoto syndicates from all over the country pooled resources to get this single photo. More than 100 photo personnel set up a central headquarters in a nearby bakery shop. From the group, they selected two photographers: Sam Shere, INP, who ran into trouble getting into location and Dick Sarno, NY Mirror. Dick Sarno, practiced with a 35 mm Contax Camera by duplicating the lighting conditions of the courtroom. When the verdict was returned and the death penalty was announced, he took now-infamous courtroom picture from the camera wrapped in his muffler?a precaution he took to silence the camera?from between two reporters camouflaging Sarno. Sarno reflected ?I thought I might be stopped by state troopers. They?d been alerted to watch for cameras?. the judge was directly in front and below me. If he looked up, I was sure he could see me?. The pandemonium that directly followed the verdict enabled him to sneak away quietly. He returned to the bakery with a piece of history?the next day, the photo was plastered on the front-page of many newspapers, including The New York Sun (above), which was conservative enough to devote eight columns to the picture.

The Lindbergh kidnapping case was one of the most passionately followed events in the journalistic history. The trial of the kidnapper of the baby (and its eventual murderer) Bruno Richard Hauptmann in Flemington, New Jersey turned the small town into a three-ring media circus. However, when Hauptmann (arrowed in above picture) was brought to court, the presiding judge Thomas W. Trenchard announced that no pictures were to be made in the court during the session. However, the press desperately wanted a ?verdict photo ??and the press usually gets what it wants. Newsphoto syndicates from all over the country pooled resources to get this single photo. More than 100 photo personnel set up a central headquarters in a nearby bakery shop. From the group, they selected two photographers: Sam Shere, INP, who ran into trouble getting into location and Dick Sarno, NY Mirror. Dick Sarno, practiced with a 35 mm Contax Camera by duplicating the lighting conditions of the courtroom. When the verdict was returned and the death penalty was announced, he took now-infamous courtroom picture from the camera wrapped in his muffler?a precaution he took to silence the camera ?from between two reporters camouflaging Sarno.?Sarno reflected ?I thought I might be stopped by state troopers. They?d been alerted to watch for cameras?. the judge was directly in front and below me. If he looked up, I was sure he could see me?. The pandemonium that directly followed the verdict enabled him to sneak away quietly. He returned to the bakery with a piece of history?the next day, the photo was plastered on the front-page of many newspapers, including The New York Sun (above), which was conservative enough to devote eight columns to the picture. Iconic Photos.

More than two years after the sensational kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh?s 20-month-old son, authorities finally made an arrest on September 19, 1934.

More than two years after the sensational kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh?s 20-month-old son, authorities finally made an arrest on September 19, 1934.

Lindbergh had married Anne Morrow in 1929 and they had six children. In 1932, their first-born baby son was kidnapped and murdered.?On March 1, 1932, the Lindbergh’s’ 20-month-old son, Charles Augustus, Jr., was kidnapped from the family home in New Jersey. About ten weeks later, his body was found. In 1934, police arrested a carpenter Bruno Richard Hauptman and charged him with the murder. Hauptman was convicted of the crime. He was executed in 1936.

The kidnapping truly broke Charles Lindbergh beyond repair; it can be seen as the explanation for all that he did after?the long absences, the tyrannical behaviour toward his children?.And finally the secret families.?

The ?Crime of the Century? certainly did traumatize Lindbergh. Lindbergh was so concerned with losing his first German child that he personally took the infant?s fingerprints and footprints and insisted that mistress number #1 tote them around at all times (in case they were ever needed for identification purposes). However, it is a stretch to view this tragedy as the main cause for his lifelong character disorder. From birth on, Lindbergh had difficulty connecting with others. As an adolescent, he developed crushes not on girls, but on machines; his first one was on ?Maria,? the family?s Model T Ford.

For the ?Lone Eagle,? women were not so much other human beings, with whom he could build intimate relationships, as machines, whose services he needed rather frequently. His four ?wives? weren?t even enough to keep him sexually satisfied, there were other lovers whom he met for trysts in exotic locales all over the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s,

In 1935, after the Hauptman trial, Lindbergh, his wife, and their 3-year-old son, Jon, moved to Europe in search of privacy and safety.

Lindbergh fell in love with Europe and especially with Germany in 1927. After 1945 he returned again and again as a private man to West Germany and Austria. He would spend several months a year with his mistresses?. At the same time, he leading a family life in USA.

Lindbergh’s daughter Astrid remembers her childhood in 1960’s in Bavaria: “He was very nice to me. My mother was always extremely happy and relaxed when he was with us.” Her mother said to the children, “Papa” is a writer and has not the time to be always at home.” Astrid Boatel said in an interview, she knew her “father” under the name Care Kent. Later she found out in documents of her late mother the real background of this German-American family.

Astrid Bouteil keeps her father in good memory. She named her own son Charly. ‘He and my daughter Isabelle have certain characteristics of their American grandfather. Charly was a pilot in the Army and become an engineer. Both look a bit like the grandfather’, she said.

A picture taken on August 14, 2003 shows Astrid Bouteuil and her brothers Dyrk Hesshaimer (L) and David Hesshaimer.

A picture taken on August 14, 2003 shows Astrid Bouteuil and her brothers Dyrk Hesshaimer (L) and David Hesshaimer.

In 1941, before the United States joined the war, Lindbergh made an extraordinary speech. He maligned the Jews and suggested that the US, Britain and Germany should band together to form a superpower of race and arms.

This, he maintained, would protect the countries from ?inferior blood?.

He immediately lost his hero status. He was pilloried by the media. Schools, airports, streets and landmarks which had been named for him during his hero years were renamed.

His fame, the chaos that followed the kidnapping of his son?His dizzyingly quick and permanent fall into disrepute. That evidently came as a great surprise to Lindbergh, who could never quite understand what was so offensive in his devotion to the Reich, his acceptance of a Nazi medal, his denunciation of aid to a beleaguered England, his campaign to preserve the white race, and his charges that the unduly influential Jews were trying to take the country to war.

How strange it was, after everything, that Lindbergh would continue to express amazement about these things. Decades after the notorious 1941 speech he gave in Des Moines, Iowa, charging that President Franklin Roosevelt, the British and the Jews of America were dragging the country to war?that speech that well and truly finished him, and caused overnight mass resignations from America First organizations and editorial denunciations from even the most isolationist sectors of the American press?Charles Lindbergh still complained that nobody had paid attention to the rest of his speech. That he may have found peace and satisfaction in the creation of a few extra families?in Munich, Baden-Baden and Switzerland, respectively?each grateful to see him whenever he popped in, seems, for a man with so complicated a relation to reality, not entirely surprising.

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Several years later, a film was made about his New York ? Paris achievement but it flopped at the box office. This is even more surprising as it starred the perennially popular James Stewart.

Charles Lindbergh was no longer America?s hero.

It was almost thirty years after his death that his secret private life was revealed. ?It transpired that he had three families in Germany ? each consisting of a single mother and Lindbergh?s children. They were:

  • Birgitte Hesshaimer, a milliner. She had three children by Lindbergh
  • Birgitte?s sister, Marietta, who bore two of his children
  • An aristocrat private secretary named Valeska with whom he had a further two children.

Lindbergh visited all three families two or three times a year. The children grew up knowing him?as their father. All seven of his illegitimate children had been born between 1958 and 1967.

Lindbergh was virtually on his deathbed ? it was just ten days before he died ? when he wrote to his three mistresses imploring them to maintain their secrecy about his relationship with them.

This they did. The secret went with them to their graves.

Later though,Brigitte?s daughter Astrid, read an article about the famous American aviator hero. She realised that he looked remarkably like the man she (and the other children) knew as Careu Kent ? and their father.

Could this be their father? She found old photographs of Lindbergh and her mother, plus over a hundred and fifty love letters written between the years of 1957 and 1974, the year old Lindbergh?s death.

She kept this to herself until Lindbergh?s widow died in 2001. Then, as she no longer had to spare Anne Lindbergh?s feelings, she made her findings public. DNA tests proved without doubt that Astrid and her two brothers were indeed fathered by Lindbergh.

Exactly how Lindbergh managed to maintain his three secret families and maintain the deception has never been discovered.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh (1902?1974) was a very complicated man, even though the world has preferred to think of him in very simplistic shorthand. No matter what he accomplished in his 72 years of life, he complained, ?The old ladies keep flying me to Paris.? Their one-dimensional view saw him only as the world?s most famous aviator; but he took equal pride in being an author, inventor, environmentalist, explorer, military officer, and social activist.

His father was Charles August Lindbergh, a Little Falls MN lawyer, and Minnesota?s Sixth District Congressman from 1907-1917.

Like his son two decades later with a different conflict, he was one of the few members of Congress who tried to prevent America?s entry into the First World War. His mother, Evangeline Lodge Land, was a chemistry teacher from Detroit and a graduate of the University of Michigan. Although he visited his father in Washington DC frequently, Lindbergh spent most of his first 18 years in Little Falls.

After completing high school in Little Falls in 1918 and spending another two years running the farm, Lindbergh enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1920. During his second year of studying engineering there, he succumbed to the long-felt attraction of flight and entered a Lincoln NE flying school in 1922. He first served as a mechanic, wing walker, and parachute jumper. Then, after purchasing a war surplus Jenny trainer in 1923, he made his first solo flight and barnstormed himself for about a year. For Lindbergh, flight represented everything he loved: the outdoors, adventure and mechanics.

In 1924, Lindbergh entered a US Army flying school at San Antonio TX and graduated first in his class the following year.

In 1926 he became the first air mail pilot between Chicago IL and St. Louis MO. While in St. Louis and looking for another challenge, he convinced a group of businessmen to back him in an attempt to win the $25,000 Orteig Prize which had been offered since 1919 for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris.

Lindbergh helped design a monoplane, built by Ryan Airlines of San Diego CA, in which he would make his solo attempt. The plane was named the?Spirit of St. Louis.

On the morning of May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off alone from Long Island to Paris, carrying five sandwiches, water, maps and charts, and a limited number of other items he deemed absolutely necessary. He decided against carrying a parachute and radio in favour of more gasoline.

On May 21st, 33? hours later, Lindbergh set the?Spirit of St. Louis down at Le Bourget Field near Paris. He had flown over 3,600 miles and became the first to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic.

Charles Lindbergh, an American aviator, made the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, 1927. He was just 25 years old. On May 20, Lindbergh took off in the Spirit of St. Louis from Roosevelt Field, near New York City, at 7:52 a.m. He landed at Le Bourget Field, near Paris, on May 21 at 10:21 p.m. Paris time (5:21 p.m. New York time). Thousands of cheering people had gathered to meet him. He had flown more than 3,600 miles (5,790 kilometres) in 33 1/2 hours. Lindbergh’s heroic flight thrilled people throughout the world. He was honoured with awards, celebrations, and parades.

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Overnight, at just 25 years of age, Lindbergh became an international hero?probably the most famous and most admired man in the world. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour and the first-ever Distinguished Flying Cross by the US government, and received high honors from many other countries. He and?the?Spirit of St. Louis?were summoned home to the US by President Coolidge aboard a navy cruiser. After a ticker-tape parade and other initial accolades, Lindbergh made an 82-city US tour in the?Spirit of St. Louis?to promote the commercialization of aviation.

Late in 1927, Lindbergh flew to a number of Latin American countries as a goodwill ambassador for the US government. While in Mexico, he met Anne Spencer Morrow, daughter of the American ambassador. The two were married in 1929 at the Morrow estate in New Jersey.

Constantly pursued by the media, the couple could only find privacy in the air. In 1930 Lindbergh taught Anne to fly. She became the first woman in America to earn a glider pilot?s license and later that year she earned her pilot?s license. During the next few years, Anne was not only his wife, but his co-pilot, radio operator, and navigator.

Although he was nicknamed ?Slim??by his original flying buddies, he despised all subsequent nicknames such as ?Lucky Lindy? and ?The Lone Eagle,? which were conferred upon him by the media which he came to despise. His wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, ?He never wanted to be regarded as a hero or leader, and he never had political ambitions.?

An intensely private man when it came to his family, Charles Lindbergh became exasperated by the unrelenting press and public attention focused on them in the wake of the 1932 kidnapping of his first son, Charles Jr., and the trial of the kidnapper and murderer Bruno Hauptmann. Particularly concerned for the physical safety of their then three-year-old second son, Jon, by late 1935, the Lindberghs secretly came to the decision to go into voluntary exile in England, and later, in France.

During the 1930s, Lindbergh inspected the status of aviation in European countries. At the request of Truman Smith, the US Berlin military attach? (and later,?personal adviser to General George C. Marshall), beginning in 1936 Lindbergh made five inspection trips to the German aircraft industry and the Luftwaffe.? Senior Luftwaffe officers discussed air tactics and operations with Lindbergh; he was even allowed to fly a Messerschmidt Bf-109. The trips produced valuable intelligence, but were misinterpreted by the American media.

Lindbergh?s public opposition to Roosevelt?s war policies, among other things, fueled suspicions that he was a Nazi sympathizer and disloyal to his country. Nothing was further from the truth. Accepting a medal from Hermann G?ring (even though the gesture had been arranged by the US State Department) only added fuel to the fire. Ann Lindbergh sagely called the medal ?that Albatross.? Truman Smith always maintained that Lindbergh?s visits provided valuable intelligence and warned the US government of Germany?s air power so the US could strengthen its air capability, which it did. But Smith was rumoured to be a defeatist and was disregarded.

At this point, Lindbergh opposed the voluntary entry of the US into the European war. He would have preferred that the Nazis and Soviets be left to duke it out between themselves. As a member of the America First organization, he tried using his fame to campaign against US involvement. But it backfired. Like a lot of Americans at the time, he was also an eugenicist, and he was therefore unfairly labelled a fascist and anti-Semite by the media. Criticism of his position led to his resigning his commission in the Army Air Corps Reserve. He gave up public speaking.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, however, Lindbergh became a technical adviser to the Army and Navy. He flew 50 combat missions and helped develop cruise control techniques that increased the capabilities of American fighter planes.

After the war, Lindbergh withdrew from public attention. He was a consultant to the U.S. Air Force, became involved in the conservation movement, and wrote several books, including “The Spirit of St. Louis,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1954.

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Anne Morrow Lindbergh?s high-flying husband Charles may have grabbed all the headlines, but she wrote reams of journals and letters throughout her famed, and sometimes troubled, life.

An international author and accomplished aviator in her own right, Morrow Lindbergh?s feats were somewhat eclipsed by her husband?s early fame and later notoriety. The kidnapping of her 20-month-old son Charles Jr., who was born on her birthday, cast another long shadow on her life, but Morrow Lindbergh managed to move forward, according to Reeve Lindbergh, the youngest of her six children.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh also led double life, bisected by emotion rather than biology, in which a public serenity often hid a deep private anxiety. Nothing shows the gap between her inner and outer lives better than the letters and journals, which contain material Lindbergh wrote between the ages of 41 and 79. She says in a diary entry made in 1955, nearly a quarter-century after the kidnapping and death of her infant son:

?I have become a kind of symbol ? a Mother figure to the American public ? because I married their Hero ? is it? ? or because I lost a child??

Morrow Lindbergh added that she felt ?gummed into a frame ??Whistler?s Mother, complete with rocking chair and folded hands.? The near-perfection that Americans projected onto her belied a pain caused in part by her husband?s selfishness and long, frequent, and unexplained absences in the last decades of their life together.

She was known to write three to four long letters a day, Morrow Lindbergh was already putting the smiley face to good use in one to her husband in 1949. Multifaceted as her life was, she could nonchalantly describe copiloting flights with ?Lucky Lindy? to open airline routes in one sentence and then having to deal with the unexpected crisis of goldfish in the toilet bowl in the next.

Perfectionism in household tasks and clutter were big time wasters in her book (and understandable considering she had to move her family 19 times to keep up with her husband?s intercontinental lifestyle).

Morrow Lindbergh?s?strength would be surprising to many and her ability to understand her husband. She was quite tolerant about his needing his own space and his own life. She wanted him to feel free, which was fairly sophisticated for that time. But Reeve Lindbergh does not know that she thought that meant to go out and have three secret families.

The love of his life was not a woman, but?The?Spirit of St. Louis. Anne Lindbergh notes after one of her first meetings with the aviator in Benjamin?s novel, ??He patted the plane in the same manner as a cowboy caressing his favourite horse. I almost felt as if I was intruding on an intimate scene.? But while his obsessive love of machines caused him to be a lousy husband, it was precisely what he needed to march right into the history books.

Charles Lindbergh standing beside the Spirit of St. Louis. Photograph by American Commercial Photographers (attrib.), 1927. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. Lindbergh, Charles A. Collection. n22380.

Charles Lindbergh standing beside the Spirit of St. Louis. Photograph by American Commercial Photographers (attrib.), 1927. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. Lindbergh, Charles A. Collection. n22380.

Reeve Lindbergh: ?I am one of five children [after Charles Jr.?s death] and we were all very busy. My brothers had guinea pigs, snakes and turtles. My sister played the piano very well so that might have been going on. When my father was home we would all eat dinner together. He was strict, strict. He always had a list of things for each of us about what we should be doing, like not leaving our skates on the lawn. That was a big one. He would call us each into his office and go through the list. Or sometimes he would give you a lecture called ?Freedom and Respect.? ?The Downfall of Civilization? was another one which went on for some time. He would go on and on. You would have to look interested or try to look interested. Once he was done, you would go out and the next person would come in. He was quite the classic 1950s militant father. We would all kind of snap to when he was around. Then he would leave again and we would all relax a bit, even my mother.?

Reeve Lindbergh, the youngest of Charles and Anne?s children, wrote about these revelations of her father’s infidelities and about her connecting with her European brothers and sisters in an essay published in 2009 in Forward from Here: Leaving Middle Age and Other Unexpected Adventures:

The book of essays ?includes her learning the truth about her father?s secret European families and writing in her personal journal.

?This story reflects absolutely Byzantine layers of deception on the part of our shared father. These children did not even know who he was! He used a pseudonym with them (To protect them, perhaps? To protect himself, absolutely!)?

A year later, she travelled to Europe to meet all seven of her half siblings and understand an expanded meaning of family.

?I have the feeling that he was the only person involved with all these families who knew the full truth, and I keep thinking that by the time he died in 1974, my father had made his life so complicated that he had to keep each part separate from the other parts . . . I don?t know why he lived this way, and I don?t think I ever will know, but what it means to me is that every intimate human connection my father had during his later years was fractured by secrecy.??

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