The Lindberghs’ 1931 Survey Flight

In 1931 and 1933, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh embarked on two lengthy trips over vast expanses of water and uncharted, unpopulated territory, exploring possible overseas airline routes during the pioneering days of international air travel. The remote flights also offered some relief from the endless public scrutiny that had followed Charles Lindbergh since 1927.

Charles Lindbergh described their 1931 trip as a vacation flight with “no start or finish, no diplomatic or commercial significance, and no records to be sought.”

The Lindberghs with the Sirius, which has been pulled up on a beaching platform at College Point, Long Island, New York, to be fitted with aluminum floats.

The Great Circle
Because of the earth’s shape, the shortest distance between the lower 48 states and Asia is north over Alaska. The Lindberghs’ flight in this airplane explored new Arctic air routes. Most airliners bound for Asia still fly this way today.

The Route
Starting in Maine on July 27, they flew across Canada and Alaska to Siberia, Japan, and China, landing near Nanking on September 19—the first flight from the West to the East by a northerly route. Their trip proved the feasibility of using a great circle route—the shortest practical distance—to reach the Far East.

Equipment and Supplies for the Tingmissartoq
The Lindberghs were meticulous in their preparations for flights over five continents. While fuel and oil were stationed and lodging and meals provided at their planned stops (or by their support ship Jelling on the second flight), they slept in the aircraft and ate canned rations when necessary.

“We must be prepared for a forced landing in the North, where we would need warm bedding and clothes; and in the South, where we ought to have an insect-proof tent; and on the ocean, where we would need, in addition to food, plenty of fresh water. And we must not exceed our limited weight budget. Every object to be taken had to be weighed mentally as well as physically.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient

Sometimes the Lindberghs spent the night on the Tingmissartoq.

“Our equipment, neatly packed on the floor in layers according to degrees of softness, made a comfortable bed... First the oars; then, the tool-kit and spare parts of the engine, the cans of food, the bulky canvas bags of emergency equipment, the rubber boat, the tent roll, extra coils of rope; next, our parachute packs; then our blanket rolls of clothing; our two flying suits for a top mattress; and lastly the sleeping bag.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, North to the Orient