Recently, while working on my third book about the Spirit of St. Louis, I stumbled upon a question I’d earlier missed about its origin story: Who were these financial backers that pushed Charles Lindbergh to take a long shot with a small aircraft manufacturer in San Diego?
This journey took me back to the bustling year of 1927. I found myself researching the audacious dream that began in St. Louis City, and the dreamers that backed a unknown airmail pilot. Often, I imagine I’m sitting across the table from my grandad, the chief engineer of the Spirit of St. Louis, asking him to recount the story anew. This time, I asked, “Why did Lindbergh even give you a shot?” His response was again that there was more to the story that I’d understood.
A few days ago I completed my research and basically Grandfather wasn’t alone in this adventure. Once Lindbergh reached San Diego, it was primarily the two of them that figured out the details and questioned every possible challenge. But Charles Lindbergh, a daring airmail pilot,first had to captivate nine St. Louis stalwarts to make anything move forward. Thus, names like Harold M. Bixby, Harry F. Knight, Harry H. Knight, Albert Bond Lambert, J.D. Wooster Lambert, E. Lansing Ray, Frank H. Robertson, William B. Robertson, and Earl C. Thompson have became a part of my narrative.
As I pieced together their stories, I had a revelation. Backing Lindbergh wasn’t merely a financial move for them; it was THE torchlight illuminating their belief in human potential and aviation’s promise. Their choices transcended signing checks; they set a precedent for a moment that shifted the course of aviation history. Which is how the Model NYP earned its name: Spirit of St. Louis.
This bold step triggered a marvelous journey, ending with the Spirit of St. Louis being built as a custom aircraft to a abnormally tall pilot. With Lindbergh at the controls and lifting off from Roosevelt Field in New York on May 20th 1927, his success had actually started with nine individuals who have been forgotten. This remarkable event, made possible by these nine men, didn’t just defy norms—it unlocked a horizon for humanity.
Who were these pioneers? The visionaries who had the courage to support such an audacious dream? I’ve compiled fascinating insights into their lives, the day that they were pitched with Lindbergh’s dream, and their enduring impacts in this webpage HERE.