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Charles & Anne Lindbergh-Flight to the Orient

Lindberghs prepared for their survey flight to the Orient

In the spring of 1931, Anne Lindbergh was issued her private pilot license after training in a Bird biplane on Long Island, New York. "Charles has been working me very hard this last week, flying, every day…" she wrote in Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead, Diaries and Letters, 1929-1932. Her "first solo flight away from the airport…" was "my dream as a young girl at last come true." During 1931 the Lindberghs prepared for their survey flight to the Orient. The purpose of this flight was to scout the great circle course, the fastest route from New York to Tokyo, for use in commercial air routes. Their aircraft was the Lockheed Sirius, with a single 600-horsepower radial engine, and was fitted with pontoons for water landings on the long-range flights. The fuel range was 2,000 miles.

Lockheed Sirius Plane

The Sirius was originally a land plane. In 1930, Charles, with Anne along, had established a Los Angeles to New York record flight of less than 15 hours in the craft. Modifications were made to the plane before each of the surveying flights. A controllable pitch propeller and a third engine, 710-horsepower, were installed for the Atlantic survey flight in 1933. The plane was retired after the last survey flight.

North to the Orient
North to the Orient
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
ORDER NOW!

"One of the most beautiful and great-hearted books that have ever been written"—SINCLAIR LEWIS

Flights over uncharted desolate terrain

Because the flights were over uncharted, desolate terrain and wide stretches of water, their preparations were thorough and meticulous, with safety of foremost concern. The decisions were a delicate balancing act between payload limitations, fuel weight and emergency equipment needed for extended survival in the event of a forced landing. The Lindberghs were self-sufficient, sleeping in the plane when necessary and eating canned provisions. Their equipment checklist included parts for engine repairs and maintenance.

Departed July 27, 1931

The survey flight to the Orient departed July 27, 1931, from Long Island, New York. Their itinerary through Canada included Ottawa, Moose Factory and Churchill on Hudson Bay, and Baker Lake in the Northwest Territories (Anne was the first white woman to set foot there). In Ottawa, her husband proudly proclaimed his wife was "crew" in response to a local aviator’s statement that he wouldn’t want his own wife as a passenger through the uncharted no man’s land of the Canadian tundra.

After a 12-hour night flight north from Baker Lake, through a never darkening sky in the land of the midnight sun, they arrived on the fifth of August at Aklavik on the Mackenzie River delta. Their next stop was Point Barrow, the northernmost tip of Alaska, at the Arctic Ocean. It was isolated, bleak country, sparsely inhabited by Eskimos, the native people now known as Inuit, and small settlements of white missionaries and trappers who waited a full year between supply boats to replenish supplies.

They headed south to Nome in darkening skies, away from the Arctic sunlight. Low on fuel, with fog-shrouded mountains ahead, they landed near Shishmaref Inlet. Anne hurriedly reeled in the antenna after sending a frantic message to the waiting Nome natives, moments before the plane landed in shallow water.

Photos taken in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada by John Daniel Smith

The following images have been reprinted with permission of Mrs. Sally Field (Smith) of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada (last surviving sibling of John Smith).

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Photos taken in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada by Kornelious van Wyk

The following images were taken in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada by Kornelious van Wyk (know as Van) when the Lindbergh's stopped to refuel on their way to China. The following images have been reprinted with permission of Mrs. Dina (van Nes) Brecknell of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (Van was a friend of Mrs. Dina).

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Photos taken in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada by Burt Austin

The following photos are from an album of Burt Austin. The album included photos taken when he was working in Churchill in 1931. The torn edges on the photos seems to have been in fashion then as most of the ones in Burt's album have been done that way. The following images have been reprinted with permission of Muriel (Burts daughter) and Jim Allen.

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Lindbergh and his wife - Churchill, Man 1931

Not a bit stuck up these two very obliging hence a swell picture

Churchill Man 1931

Pictures I took of the Lindberghs Churchill Man 1931

Mrs Lindy and some of the boys I work with

Someone took one of Lindy's good ropes for souvenior hence the frown

Taken in Churchill Man Aug 1931

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Photos taken in Nome, Alaska 1931

The following pictures were sent to the CharlesLindbergh.com Web site by Jim Davenport of Camp Verde, AZ.

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Crossing the Bering Sea on August 14

After crossing the Bering Sea on August 14, they arrived in Siberia at Karaginski Island, Kamchatka, before flying on to Petropavlovsk. Even with language barriers among the Russians, Anne’s warm nature established quick friendships and transcended cultural barriers. Her gentle demeanor endeared her to many of the people they encountered worldwide.

Rescued by a Japanese boat

Their next stop was Ketoi Island, where Charles landed skillfully in a sea of fog, while Anne battled temporary fright through the blind descent. After fouled spark plugs prevented an engine start there, the plane drifted perilously close to the rocks when the anchor rope broke. They were rescued by a Japanese boat, the Shinshiru Maru, and towed to Buroton Bay.

Severe flooding of the Yangtzee River

On August 22, repairs completed, they flew on towards Tokyo, but battling fog again, landed near Kunashiri Island. After a brief stop at Nemuro, the Sirius landed at Tokyo on August 26. From Fukuoka, they flew across the Yellow Sea into Nanking, China, site of severe flooding of the Yangtzee River, now known as the Chang. Because the Sirius had the longest fuel range of any plane in the area, it was called into action to assess the vast flood damage.

Sirius damaged while being hoisted by the British carrier Hermes

But their great surveying flight to the Orient was unexpectedly cut short. In October, at Hankow, the Sirius was damaged while being hoisted by the British carrier Hermes. The Lindberghs sailed to Shanghai, hoping to have the plane repaired in China, but they headed home by boat after hearing news of Dwight Morrow’s sudden death. The plane was shipped to the Lockheed factory in California for repairs. (See Pictures Below)

North to the Orient published in 1935

In North to the Orient (published in 1935), Anne wrote that these flights would not have been possible a few years earlier with the aviation technology available then. A few years later, airplanes would be more commonplace. The Lindberghs were truly opening the windows of flight for the average citizen, many of whom followed the progress of the flight path with rapt attention.

Recently discovered photos from the HMS Hermes

The following pictures were taken by the late Walter Harold Smith. He was a Royal Marine on the HMS Hermes, Royal Navy aircraft carrier, between 1929-1934/5. The photos were recently discovered by the family. The photos have been reprinted with permission from Kevin Pierce. For reprint rights and requests, please email: webmaster@charleslindbergh.com

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Accident Lindberghs Plane

Plane Being Hoisted

Plane on board after accident

The Accident

After Accident

After Accident Lindy On Plane

Col & Mes On Lift Of Hermes

Hoisting Plane After Mishap

Lindbergh Plane

Lindy Inspecting Plane

Mrs. Lindbergh

Arriving On Board

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The following photographs were taken by Christy Smith, a rated stoker aboard Hermes at the time. In one of them you will see the accident concerning Sirius and the Hermes winch and the second is a rather nice picture of both Chas & Ann Lindbergh coming aboard Hermes. The photos have been reprinted with permission from John Burke.

     

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