Charles Lindbergh was born on February 4, 1902 in Detroit, Michigan. His family later moved to Little Falls, Minnesota, where he spent his childhood. His farther was a lawyer and his mother was a science teacher.
After finishing school, Charles enrolled in a mechanical engineering program, but dropped out in 1922. Instead of studying engineering, Charles decided to pursue flight training in Nebraska. After saving some money, he was able to purchase his own airplane, a Curtiss JN-4.
Charles decided to join the United States Army's Air Corps. After leaving the Corps, he worked a pilot in St. Louis, flying mail carriers. Over the years, he gained more skill in flight, eventually flying at night and making long trips. On May 20, 1927, he embarked on a mission that would put his name in history books: flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
The trip took about 33 hours to complete, flying from New York to Paris. The airplane that he used was named "The Spirit of St. Louis" and had been built by Ryan Airlines. For his efforts, he was given the "Orteig Prize", which consisted of $25,000, and international fame.
With all of the fame, Charles was appointed to numerous aviation organizations, including the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. On March 21, 1929, he was presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor, for his transatlantic flight.
That same year, he married a woman named Anne Morrow, with whom he had six children. In his spare time, he taught her how to fly airplanes and went on a number of flights with her. Tragedy struck when their 20-month-old son Charles was abducted from their house on March 1, 1932. The boy's body was found dead on May 12, 1932 after an exhaustive search nationwide and several attempts at ransom payment. The man responsible was named Bruno Hauptmann and was sentenced to death and executed on April 3, 1936.
After the kidnapping drama, the Lindberghs moved to Europe in 1935. In the latter part of the 1930s, he was hired by the United States military to spy on the quickly improving German Air Force. In 1938, he was invited to a dinner with several Nazi officials, where he was presented with the German Medal of Honor. Despite the protests of people in the United States, Lindbergh decided to keep the medal to avoid insulting the German government.
After the beginning of World War 2, the Lindberghs moved back to the United States. Charles was against the war and declared that the United States should stay out of the conflict and sign a non-aggression treaty with Germany. His mind changed after the attack on Pearl Harbor and attempted to rejoin the Air Corps, but was denied by the Roosevelt administration. To help the war effort, he worked as a consultant to aircraft companies and was allowed to fly numerous combat missions in the Pacific Campaign.
After the war ended, Charles became a consultant for the Air Force and Pan American World Airways. He also wrote a memoir called "The Spirit of St. Louis" detailing his transatlantic flight. The book was published in 1953 and managed to earn him a Pulitzer Prize. In 1954, he was appointed Brigadier General of the Army's Air Corps by Eisenhower.
In the 1960s, Charles lectured widely on conservation and other subjects. He retired to the island of Maui, where he died of cancer on August 26, 1974. The Minneapolis, Minnesota Airport has since named a terminal after him and he remains an important figure in aviation and world history.