Memories, Smiles, and New-Found Respect for Lindbergh’s Feat
Follow Rare Rides in EAA’s Spirit of St. Louis
Eight individuals from around the country enjoyed a rare opportunity to experience what few others have known -- a flight and some stick time in the EAA’s Spirit of St. Louis reproduction. The rides were part of the Lindbergh Foundation’s on-line auction and took place May 15-17.
“The Spirit is a great storyteller,” said Spirit Pilot Sean Elliott, director of Aircraft Operations at EAA. “If you read all the books written about the Spirit, they still don’t prepare you for the experience of what Lindbergh did when he flew that plane for 33 ½ hours.”
Larry Williams of Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc., St. Paul, Minn., said, “I was awestruck to learn how unstable the aircraft is and how to keep it flying, you need constant input and diligence.”
Linden Blue of Spectrum Aeronautical, San Diego, Calif., said, “It was a big thrill to fly the Spirit and fly it from the seat that Lindbergh sat in. It allows me to better project what he went through. I have even greater respect for his airmanship after having seen how unstable the airplane is. There is no way it could get certified today. You have to fly it every second.”
The poor visibility in the aircraft is another eye-opener for those who get a ride in the plane. Not only was Charles an aviation pioneer, but he was also at the forefront of instrument flying. With no forward vision available, Lindbergh used instrumentation to navigate his way to Paris. The Earth Inductor Compass, invented in 1924, was very sophisticated instrumentation for the time.
“I found the ailerons heavy, relatively unresponsive, and they created considerable adverse yaw,” said Jeff Loeffler of Wyoming, Minn. “It helped to have a well-developed forearm and responsive feet,” he joked. “Flying over the Wisconsin fields, I couldn’t help drifting into thoughts of yesteryear and trying to imagine what it was like to occupy that seat over the Atlantic in 1927.”
Jesse Easudes of Pittsburgh, PA., also bid on a flight. He is a lifelong admirer of Charles Lindbergh and a pilot with a deep affection for the Golden Age of aviation. Easudes, who never dreamed he would have a chance to fly theSpirit of St. Louis reproduction,actually bid on a ride not for himself but for adear friend, Ev Cassagneres, a worldwide expert on the Spirit of St. Louis, who has written two books about the famous aircraft.Easudes's bid was successful, but unfortunatelyCassagneres was unable to accept the ride. Easudes couldn't go to Wisconsin himself, so he offered the ride to his friend David Troup. Troup gratefully accepted, but was so delighted with the opportunity that he immediately arranged to return the favor and fly Easudes to Wisconsin. So it turned out that both of them were able to experience the flight of a lifetime.
“To hear about its handling characteristics is one thing but to actually experience them as a passenger and finally as pilot is quite another,” said Easudes. “Although I would have thought it difficult to do, this airplane increased the already tremendous respect I have for Lindbergh.”
“The Lindbergh Foundation is extremely grateful to EAA for making the Spirit available to us for our auction,” said Foundation Chairman John King, co-chairman of King Schools. “The Spirit is one of the most recognizable airplanes in the world. We are delighted to have made some dreams come true for a few very lucky people and we thank them for participating in our auction.”
See more photos from this very special event here