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Lindbergh — Kipahulu Maui, Hawaii
By Mike Davenport, EAA 89102, Langley, British Columbia
December 2019 - You may recall that in February of this year we published an article by J. Davis about his trip to Hawaii, and in it he mentioned coming across the gravestone of Charles Lindbergh. This was part of a larger article. We were delighted to receive this article from Mike Davenport with a lot more detail about the circumstances of that grave site and his thoughts on Charles Lindbergh. —Ed.
A simple grave and a modest marker — at least that is what was there when, in the 1990s, I saw Charles Lindbergh’s grave, located on the south coast of Maui. At that time I was disappointed, not by what was there, but rather by what wasn't. That someone who had lived life so large could be memorialized by such a small and insignificant grave site seemed so un-American somehow. After all, in a country of vast overstatement, one that carves faces on mountains and erects statues to heroes of all stripes, this seemed like the ultimate in understatement. Of course, I was to learn later that this was his choice. A private man up to the end, buried in the place of his choice: a wish to be honoured.
This trip to Kipahulu brought me as near to one of my personal heroes as I would ever get. I became aware of him when I was a child living in a small village in Ontario. In 1953, the local librarian, knowing of my interest in flying, ordered in a copy of Lindbergh's then recently published biography, The Spirit of St Louis. I devoured that book, and it nurtured a lifelong interest in flying. Today, I own several copies, including an early Book of the Month Club edition. I was also able to find two copies of WE, his first book, written in a very short time just after the flight in 1927.
My collection of books about Charles Lindbergh.
Many replicas of the Ryan-built Spirit of St. Louis aircraft have been built and flown. The most notable was the one built by EAA in 1977. This flew until 1988, when it went on permanent display in the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I was able to get a picture of this one during the 2019 convention. By popular request, a second replica was built in 1991, and it continues in service to this day.
Just this summer a new replica was spotted — this one at the Arlington airport in Washington, here on the West Coast. This is probably the most accurate of all built to date. It is complete with all of the fuel tanks, including the main one in front of the pilot making no concession to visibility, requiring a “pilot” plane to fly alongside for landings.
That famous "no forward view" cockpit.
In addition, countless books have been written about Lindbergh, detailing his life, the flight, marriage, wartime experiences, political history — for and against, battles with one president and honours from yet another. None of that matters to me. He was a childhood hero and remains one for me even today.