The First Solo, Nonstop Transatlantic Flight

On May 21, 1927, Charles A. Lindbergh completed the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight in history, flying his Spirit of St. Louis from Long Island, New York, to Paris, France.

In 1919 New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig offered a $25,000 prize for the completion of the first nonstop flight between New York and Paris. Early in 1927, Charles Lindbergh obtained the backing of nine St. Louis investors to compete for the prize.

Lindbergh contacted Ryan Airlines in San Diego to build an airplane for the flight. To honor his supporters, he named it the Spirit of St. Louis. When he successfully reached Paris, Lindbergh became a world hero who would remain in the public eye for decades. His flight touched off the “Lindbergh boom” in aviation—aircraft industry stocks rose in value, and interest in flying skyrocketed.

Nearly a thousand people assembled at Roosevelt Field to see Lindbergh off on his historic flight.

Charles Lindbergh lifts off on a test flight before his transatlantic attempt.

Charles Lindbergh set a record flying from San Diego to New York City, with a stop in St. Louis, in 21 hours and 40 minutes.

The Spirit of St. Louis returned to the U.S. from France aboard the USS Memphis and was exhibited on a barge to protect it from souvenir hunters.

Charles Lindbergh flew a Great Circle route along the curvature of the earth rather than flying directly east over the Atlantic Ocean.

Charles Lindbergh filled out this official entry form to compete for the $25,000 prize for being the first to fly nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.

Charles Lindbergh was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for completing the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight.

A photocopy of the Orteig Prize check awarded to Lindbergh. The original is preserved in the National Air and Space Museum collections.

This barograph provided a accurate record of the airplane's altitude and flight duration, as required for competitive flights.