Lindbergh's Transatlantic Flight: New York to Paris
On May 20, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh left Long Island's Roosevelt Field in a single-engine plane built by Ryan Airlines. The plane, named the Spirit of St. Louis, would not touch ground again until it reached Paris, France. The record-setting flight proved not only to be a fight with the elements and a test of navigation, but also a long battle against fatigue. A busy schedule and an active mind kept the aviator up all of the previous night. Still, Lindbergh managed to stay conscious enough to keep the plane from crashing and landed at Le Bourget Aerodrome 33 hours and 30 minutes after leaving New York.
Live through Lindbergh's historic flight with this interactive map. Step through at your own pace (or step through at a real-time pace and see if you can stay awake!).
7:52am - Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York. The heavy plane, loaded with 450 gallons of fuel, clears telephone wires at the end of the runway by only 20 feet.
8:52am - Altitude: 500 ft. Wind velocity: 0 mph. Currently over Rhode Island. Except for some turbulence, the flight over Long Island Sound and Connecticut was uneventful. Only 3,500 miles to Paris.
9:52am - Boston lies behind the plane; Cape Cod is to the right. Altitude: 150 ft. Airspeed: 107 mph. Wind velocity: 0 mph.
10:52am - There's a breeze blowing from the NW at 10mph. Lindbergh begins to feel tired, although only four hours have passed since leaving New York. He descends and flies within ten feet of the water to help keep his mind clear.
11:52am - Four hundred miles from New York. Altitude: 200 ft. Nova Scotia appears ahead. After flying over the Gulf of Maine, the Spirit of St. Louis is only six miles, or 2 degrees, off course.
12:52pm - Wind velocity has increased to 30 mph. Lindbergh flies over a mountain range. Clouds soon appear and thicken as the Spirit of St. Louis approaches a storm front. 2:52pm - Altitude: 600 ft. Air speed: 96 mph. Lindbergh's course takes him away from the edge of the storm. Wind velocity has dropped to 15 mph.
3:52pm - The eastern edge of Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island lies below. In minutes Lindbergh will be over water again. Although it's only the afternoon of the first day, Lindbergh struggles to stay awake.
5:52pm - Flying along the southern coast of Newfoundland. Altitude: 300 ft. Air speed: 92 mph. Wind velocity: 20 mph.
7:52pm - Stars begin to appear in the sky as night falls. The sea below is completely obscured by fog. Lindbergh climbs from an altitude of 800 ft to 7500 ft to stay above the quickly-rising cloud.
8:52pm - Altitude: 10,000 ft. The cloud that first appeared as fog is still below. A thunderhead looms ahead. Lindbergh files into the towering cloud, then turns back after noticing ice forming on the plane.
10:52pm - Lindbergh's fight to keep his eyelids open continues. To keep warm, Lindbergh considers closing the plane's windows, but then decides that he needs the cold, fresh air to help stay awake.
11:52pm - Altitude: 10,000 ft. Air speed: 90 mph. Five hundred miles from Newfoundland. The air has warmed -- there's no ice remaining on the plane.
1:52am - Halfway to Paris. Eighteen hours into the flight. Instead of feeling as though he should celebrate (as he had planned), Lindbergh feels only dread: eighteen long hours to go. 2:52am - Daylight! Because Lindbergh has travelled through several time zones, dawn comes earlier. The light revives the pilot for a while, but then drowsiness returns. He even falls asleep, but only for a moment.
4:52am - Flying in the fog. Lindbergh continually falls asleep with his eyes open, then awakens seconds, possibly minutes, later. The pilot also begins to hallucinate. Finally, after flying for hours in or above the fog, the skies begin to clear.
7:52am - Twenty-four hours have elapsed since taking off from New York. Lindbergh does not feel as tired.
9:52am - Several small fishing boats spotted. Lindbergh circles and flies by closely, hoping to yell for directions, but no fishermen appear on the boats' decks.
10:52am - Local time: 3:00pm. Lindbergh spots land to his left and veers toward it. Refering to his charts, he identifies the land to be the southern tip of Ireland. The Spirit of St. Louis is 2.5 hours ahead of schedule and less than three miles off course.
12:52pm - Wanting to reach the French coast in daylight, Lindbergh increases air speed to 110 mph. The English coast appears ahead. The pilot is now wide awake.
2:52pm - The sun sets as the Spirit of St. Louis flies over the coastal French town of Cherbourg. Only two hundred miles to Paris.
4:22pm - The Spirit of St. Louis touches down at the Le Bourget Aerodrome, Paris, France. Local time: 10:22pm. Total flight time: 30 hrs, 30 min. Charles Lindbergh had not slept in 55 hours.