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Item 1048 - Charles Lindbergh Typed Letter Signed Catalog 438 (Sep 2014)

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Description


TLS signed “Charles A. Lindbergh,” three pages, 8.5 x 11, July 22, 1963. Letter to G. Edward Pendray regarding the book The Guggenheim Medalists: Architects of the Age of Flight, edited by Pendray and published in 1964. In part: “I think your manuscript for the Guggenheim Medal book is excellent. I have read it carefully, and list my comments below…As to my own biography, I find this a somewhat difficult problem. It is easy enough to list certain facts and accomplishments, but usually they don't seem to me the most important elements of life—boring as a 'Who's Who.' If I had to write a biographical sketch in 480 words (or more or less), I'd probably be working on it for weeks between the writing and the deciding. It's hard to compress life, except superficially…My suggestions and comments relate only to points of accuracy…I left the University in my sophomore year, about two weeks before I would have been kicked out for low marks and lack of regular attendance.

I received my early flying instruction (civil) from Ira Biffle, E. G. Bahl, and Harold Lynch (1922). Charles Harden loaned me his parachutes for a double-jump at Lincoln. Later, I bought a parachute from him. I did not 'team-up' or barnstorm with Harden. Harden instructed me in the use of his parachutes when I made the double jump.

The offer of the Raymond Orteig prize called my attention to the New York-Paris flight. I was much more interested in the flight than in the prize. (I do not mean to imply that the prize was not of definite interest too.) In attempting to obtain backing (financial) for the flight, I used the prize offer as an argument that a successful flight would more than pay for itself. But when I took off for Paris, I was not eligible for the prize, and did not expect to receive it. (According to the prize regulations, insufficient time had elapsed between my application for entry and my take-off.) Later, the regulations were waived and I was awarded the prize…

In Germany, I took part in writing reports concerning the Luftwaffe, to the American Government; but aside from this, most of my information was given by letter and verbally…I worked in close contact with Ambassadors Bullitt, Kennedy, Wilson, and their military staffs.

Almost all my work on high altitude and cruise-control flight was done during the war—at Willow Run and with the combat squadrons in the Pacific. My post-war work for the Air Force and Defense Department touched so many fields that I suggest leaving out the specific word, 'research.'"

Included is the two-page high-quality master copy of Pendray’s typed manuscript Lindbergh was returning, entitled “Medalist for 1953,” which the famed aviator meticulously hand-corrected in pencil. The most substantial correction comes in the second paragraph, which Lindbergh has crossed out and rewritten, in part: “He received instruction first from Ira Biffle; later, from E. G. Bahl and Harold Lynch. He accompanied the latter two pilots on barnstorming trips, as mechanic, wing-walker, and parachute jumper.” In the section on his transcontinental flight, Lindbergh amends the wording from “attempting to win the $25,000 prize offered by Raymond B. Orteig” to “after reading of Raymond Orteig’s offer,” to make the distinction he outlines in his letter.

Also included is Pendray’s retained carbon copy of his response to this letter, thanking Lindbergh for the notes and requesting a photograph, as well as the original mailing envelope panel addressed in Lindbergh’s hand, including his name, “C. A. Lindbergh,” in the return address area. In overall fine condition.

This is an extraordinary piece with superb biographical content—he writes on his early days as a pilot and learning to fly, corrects various long-standing misconceptions (particularly that regarding the Orteig prize), and discusses his military service. Lindbergh was allowed to tour German aviation facilities prior to the war between 1936 and 1938, and became familiar with the entire Luftwaffe fleet, which he was extremely impressed by. At the urging of Ambassador Joseph Kennedy he even wrote a secret memo to the British warning them that a military response to Hitler's violation of the Munich Agreement in 1938 would be suicide, given Germany's air superiority. By the time of this letter, Lindbergh was himself an accomplished author—he had released the autobiographical bestseller We within months of his famous 1927 flight, as well as Of Flight and Life in 1948 and The Spirit of St. Louis in 1953—in 1954 he received a Pulitzer Prize for the latter. Rife with fantastic content and intimate insight into the aviator's life and legend, this is a one-of-a-kind historical offering.

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