ONE OF TWO PIECES OF MAIL CARRIED BY CHARLES A. LINDBERGH ABOARD THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS ON HIS EPOCHAL NONSTOP TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT FROM NEW YORK TO PARIS. ARGUABLY THE MOST SIGNIFICANT POSTAL-HISTORY ARTIFACT OF THE 20TH CENTURY.
Upon arriving at Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris 33-1/2 hours after taking off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, Charles A. Lindbergh, a 25-year old American mail pilot, achieved historic fame as the first person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic. In technical aviation terms, his accomplishment displayed awesome navigating and flying skills, as well as phenomenal endurance. In more abstract terms, Lindbergh's flight fueled the age of aviation. President Coolidge, in bestowing the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Gold Medal, praised Lindbergh's achievement with these words: "Transportation and communication are essential to civilization. Within the year an encouragement has been given to their development that has few parallels in history. The principles of aviation were demonstrated first by Americans at the turn of the last century. In the intervening years their science progressed, both here and abroad. Important flights were made. It remained for one of our own citizens in May 1927 to arouse universal interest in the practical possibilities of travel through the air. His flight, alone and unaided, from New York to Paris thrilled the world. It appealed to the imagination of humanity...Because of what he has said and done we are told aeronautic plans for 1928 indicate an activity far beyond any dreams of six months ago."
The practical possibilities of flight were significant in Lindbergh's aspirations. As a mail pilot flying under contract for the United States Post Office Department, Lindbergh was familiar with the great risks of flight and the small reward. The fledgling Air Mail Service inaugurated in 1918 depended on a corps of aviators who flew at the mercy of mechanics and weather. Between October 1919 and July 1921, accidents claimed the lives of 26 Air Mail Service employees, including 19 pilots. Lindbergh, despite crashing on his own route between St. Louis and Chicago, held strongly to his vision of future flight, writing "What limitless possibilities aviation holds when planes can fly nonstop between New York and Paris! The year will surely come when passengers and mail fly every day from America to Europe. Of course flying will cost much more than transportation by surface ship; but letters can be written on light-weight paper, and there'll be people with such pressing business that they can afford the higher price of passage."
In preparing for his flight, Lindbergh's concern over fuel consumption outweighed most other considerations, including his personal comfort and safety. The Spirit of St. Louis was especially constructed for the 3,500-mile flight, becoming a virtual flying fuel tank. The pilot's foreward window was sacrificed for fuel storage, and all equipment except items deemed absolutely essential was discarded. Mail, which Lindbergh was accustomed to carrying, also had to be sacrificed. In one account, after realizing how much excess fuel was available as he neared Paris, Lindbergh lamented "The gasoline left in my tanks when I reach France will weigh more than all the mail one of our DH's can carry between St. Louis and Chicago...I could have brought thousands of letters to Paris." In fact, by his own account, he brought only two pieces of mail, six letters of introduction and a business card. He stated "I'm taking one letter for Postmaster Conkling of Springfield -- I couldn't say no to him -- and one letter for my friend Gregory Brandeweide, who worked with me laying out the mail route. That's all -- except for my messages of introduction." It is likely that the Conkling and Brandeweide covers were carried on the St. Louis-to-New York leg of the flight that originated in San Diego. The nine items carried by Lindbergh are well-documented in The American Air Mail Catalogue (pages 1417-1420).
In 1977, fifty years after Lindbergh's historic flight, our firm offered the Brandeweide cover in the Rarities of the World sale, where it fetched the then-extraordinary record-breaking sum of $35,000. Now, as we soon enter the 21st century, this artifact from one of this century's pivotal events will be offered again.
EXTREMELY FINE AND CHOICE. CARRIED ABOARD THE FIRST NON-STOP SOLO FLIGHT FROM HAWAII TO CALIFORNIA.
Amelia Earhart was the first to make the 2,400 mile solo non-stop flight from Hawaii to the mainland United States. Most covers have the arrival postmark on the back. This example is more desirable in that all markings are on the front of the cover
AAMC catalogue No. 1225
VERY FINE AND VERY RARE TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT COVER. ONLY FOUR COVERS WERE CARRIED ABOARD THIS FLIGHT.
The plane crossed the Atlantic successfully but ran out of gas and was forced down in a marsh at Stratford, Connecticut. The plane was wrecked and both pilots were injured. All covers from this flight have the stamps floated off and some water staining. Accompanied by photograph of the route and of the plane prior to the crash. Ex Krinsky