I had some fascinating visitors to our office. One day General Partridge called to ask me to meet and escort a General Lindbergh around my area, and told me that he was cleared for "Q" and "Top Secret" projects. The lid was off, nothing was to be held back. I thought I knew most USAF generals who I might have contact with, but I did not recall a General Lindbergh. I asked General "Pat" who he was. He laughed and replied, "You know, he is the first guy to fly the Atlantic non-stop in 1927". I spent the better part of two weeks escorting "Lindy" to all our project sites including Seattle, Muroc, Moses Lake, San Diego, Harper's Lake, JPL, and the various manufacturers.
Lindbergh explained the "General" rank to me: Just before WW II he had been a reserve Lt. Colonel. He had visited Germany, among other places, and had been received by Reichsmarshal Goring. He was presented with a special medal for his flight and had flown the Me 109 and several other German airplanes. He learned how much better they were than our P-36's, P-40's, etc, at that time. He made some speeches about how we should get going to catch up or we would be defeated if we got into a war with Germany. President Franklin Roosevelt got mad at him and rescinded his reserve commission. Lindbergh was heartbroken, but quietly did all he could as a civilian. He worked with NACA, P&W and others. He actually flew a number of combat missions in the South Pacific, and had at least one victory over Japanese Zeroes in a P-38. [Note: Lindbergh had gotten himself sent to the South Pacific to show our fighter pilots how to conserve fuel on long over water flights.] The present government leadership (in 1952) felt an injustice had been done and offered him reinstatement as an Air Force officer with the rank of Brigadier General. He accepted, and was told he must spend a two week active duty tour with the Air Force to complete this action. When asked what he would like to do, he replied that he would like to learn about the current research and development projects. They said, "OK, we will send you out to spend a couple of weeks with Charlie Hawks", and they did.
I found out he was still an active pilot and we checked him out in a C-45. After that he and I flew wherever we wanted, alone together. I told him I was a kid in high school when he made his flight, and I thought it was great. Lindbergh was bright, interested, and eager to learn all he could about everything going on. We shared hotel rooms and sometimes would talk late into the night.
Rockwell happened to have a ground test for the 3,000,000 lb. thrust rocket motor at Edwards Air Force Base (Muroc), and I arranged for him to see it. He was fascinated. I learned a lot from him, too. He told me details of his Atlantic flight, his survey flights of Greenland, across the Atlantic and all the way to Russia with his wife Ann in the Lockheed Sirius. Also about his experiences in the South Pacific flying P-38's, and his home in Kauai. It was a rare privilege for me and we parted good friends. He was a terrific pilot, and loved to fly, even a C-45!
From A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF MY CAREER IN THE AERO-SPACE SCIENCES by Charles Roberts Hawks, Jr.
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