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EXPLORATIONS - Charles Lindbergh

来源:慢速英语   时间:2011-01-25 21:12:28
Broadcast: November 26, 2003


EXPLORATIONS -- a program in Special English by the Voice of


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Today, Richard Rael and Shep O'Neal tell the story of one of

America's most famous pilots, Charles Lindbergh.



Charles Lindbergh is probably one of the best-known people in the

history of flight. He was a hero of the world. Yet, years

later, he was denounced as an enemy of his country. He had what

is called a "storybook" marriage and family life. Yet he

suffered a terrible family tragedy.

Charles Lindbergh was born in the city of Detroit, Michigan, on

February Fourth, Nineteen-Oh-Two. He grew up on a farm in

Minnesota. His mother was a school teacher. His father was a

lawyer who later became a United States congressman. The family

spent ten years in Washington, D-C, while Mister Lindbergh served

in the Congress.

Young Charles studied mechanical engineering for a time at the

University of Wisconsin. But he did not like sitting in a

classroom. So, after one-and-one-half years, he left the

university. He traveled around the country on a motorcycle.


He settled in Lincoln, Nebraska. He took his first flying

lessons there and passed the test to become a flier. But he had

to wait one year before he could fly alone. That is how long it

took him to save five-hundred dollars to buy his own plane.

Charles Lindbergh later wrote about being a new pilot. He said

he felt different from people who never flew. "In flying," he

said, "I tasted a wine of the gods of which people on the ground

could know nothing."

He said he hoped to fly for at least ten years. After that, if

he died in a crash, he said it would be all right. He was

willing to give up a long, normal life for a short, exciting life

as a flier.


From Nebraska, Lindbergh moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he

joined the United States Army Air Corps Reserve. When he

finished flight training school, he was named best pilot in his


After he completed his Army training, the Robertson Aircraft

Company of Saint Louis hired him. His job was to fly mail

between Saint Louis and Chicago.

Lindbergh flew mostly at night through all kinds of weather. Two

times, fog or storms forced him to jump out of his plane. Both

times, he landed safely by parachute. Other fliers called him

"Lucky Lindy."


In Nineteen-Nineteen, a wealthy hotel owner in New York City

offered a prize for flying across the Atlantic Ocean without

stopping. The first pilot who flew non-stop from New York to

Paris would get twenty-five-thousand dollars.

A number of pilots tried. Several were killed. After eight

years, no one had won the prize. Charles Lindbergh believed he

could win the money if he could get the right airplane.

A group of businessmen in Saint Louis agreed to provide most of

the money he needed for the kind of plane he wanted. He designed

the aircraft himself for long-distance flying. It carried a

large amount of fuel. Some people described it as a "fuel tank

with wings, a motor and a seat." Lindbergh named it: "The

Spirit of Saint Louis."


In May, Nineteen-Twenty-Seven, Lindbergh flew his plane from San

Diego, California, to an airfield outside New York City. He made

the flight in the record time of twenty-one hours, twenty


At the New York airfield, he spent a few days preparing for his

flight across the Atlantic. He wanted to make sure his plane's

engine worked perfectly. He loaded a rubber boat in case of

emergency. He also loaded some food and water, but only enough

for a meal or two.

"If I get to Paris," Lindbergh said, "I will not need any more

food or water than that. If I do not get to Paris, I will not

need any more, either."


May twentieth started as a rainy day. But experts told Lindbergh

that weather conditions over the Atlantic Ocean were improving.

A mechanic started the engine of "The Spirit of Saint Louis."

"It sounds good to me," the mechanic said. "Well, then," said

Lindbergh, "I might as well go."

The plane carried a heavy load of fuel. It struggled to fly up

and over the telephone wires at the end of the field. Then,

climbing slowly, "The Spirit of Saint Louis" flew out of sight.

Lindbergh was on his way to Paris.


Part of the flight was through rain, sleet and snow. At times,

Lindbergh flew just three meters above the water. At other

times, he flew more than three-thousand meters up. He said his

greatest fear was falling asleep. He had not slept the night

before he left.

During the thirty-three-hour flight, thousands of people waited

by their radios to hear if any ships had seen Lindbergh's plane.

There was no news from Lindbergh himself. He did not carry a

radio. He had removed it to provide more space for fuel.

On the evening of May Twenty-First, people heard the exciting

news. Lindbergh had landed at Le Bourget airport near Paris!

Even before the plane's engine stopped, Lindbergh and "The Spirit

of Saint Louis" were surrounded by a huge crowd of shouting,

crying, joyful people.

From the moment he landed in France, he was a hero. The French,

British and Belgian governments gave him their highest honors.


Back home in the United States, he received his own country's

highest awards. The cities of Washington and New York honored

him with big parades. He flew to cities all over the United

States for celebrations.

He also flew to several Latin American countries as a

representative of the United States government. During a trip to

Mexico, he met Anne Morrow, the daughter of the American

ambassador. They were married in Nineteen-Twenty-Nine.

Lindbergh taught his new wife to fly. Together, they made many

long flights. Life seemed perfect. Then, everything changed.

On a stormy night in Nineteen-Thirty-Two, kidnappers took the

baby son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh from their home in New

Jersey. Ten weeks later, the boy's body was found. Police

caught the murderer several years later. A court found him

guilty and sentenced him to death.

The kidnapping and the trial were big news. Reporters gave the

Lindberghs no privacy. So Charles and Anne fled to Britain and

then to France to try to escape the press. They lived in Europe

for four years. But they saw the nations of Europe preparing for

war. They returned home before war broke out in



Charles Lindbergh did not believe the United States should take

part in the war. He made many speeches calling for the United

States to remain neutral. He said he did not think the other

countries of Europe could defeat the strong military forces of

Germany. He said the answer was a negotiated peace.

President Franklin Roosevelt did not agree. A Congressman

speaking for the president called Lindbergh an enemy of his

country. Many people also criticized Lindbergh for not returning

a medal of honor he received from Nazi Germany.

Charles Lindbergh no longer was America's hero.


Lindbergh stopped calling for American neutrality two years

later, when Japan attacked the United States navy base at Pearl

Harbor, Hawaii. The attack brought America into the war.

Lindbergh spent the war years as an advisor to companies that

made American warplanes. He also helped train American military

pilots. Although he was a civilian, he flew about fifty combat


Lindbergh loved flying. But flying was not his only interest.

While living in France, he worked with a French doctor to develop

a mechanical heart. He helped scientists to discover Maya Indian

ruins in Mexico. He became interested in the cultures of people

from African countries and from the Philippines. And he led

campaigns to make people understand the need to protect nature

and the environment.


Charles Lindbergh died in Nineteen-Seventy-Four, once again

recognized as an American hero. President Gerald Ford said

Lindbergh represented all that was best in America -- honesty,

courage and the desire to succeed.

Today, "The Spirit of Saint Louis" -- the plane Lindbergh flew to

Paris -- hangs in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D-C.

And the man who flew it -- Charles Lindbergh -- remains a symbol

of the skill and courage that opened the skies to human flight.



This Special English program was written by Marilyn Rice

Christiano. Your narrators were Richard Rael and Shep O'Neal.

I'm Shirley Griffith. Listen again next week for another EXPLORATIONS

program on the Voice of America.