“Striking Ireland”

Tomorrow night, I’m going to be on my way to Ireland, retracing (more or less) the flight path of the Spirit of St. Louis 85 years ago, and heading to a conference in Dublin to give a paper on my  Lindbergh research.

On Lindbergh’s 33-hour flight between Paris and New York, there was no more dramatic moment than, in the 28th hour, his sighting of land for the first time:

The southern tip of Ireland! On course; over two hours ahead of schedule; the sun still well up in the sky; the weather clearing!  . . . I spiral lower, looking down on the little village.  There are boats in the harbor, wagons on the stone-fenced roads.  People are running in the streets, looking up and waving.  This is earth again, the earth where I’ve lived and now will live once more.  Here are human beings.  Here’s a human welcome.  Not a single detail is wrong.  I’ve never seen such beauty before–fields so green, people so human, a village so attractive, mountains and rocks so mountainous and rocklike…..

Striking Ireland was like leaving the doors of a theater– phantoms for actors; cloud islands and temples for settings; the ocean behind me, an empty stage.  The flight across is already like a dream.

Lindbergh liked that last passage so much that he chose it as one of the few–very few– excerpts that he read on tape for use in the original exhibits at the Lindbergh Boyhood Home historic site.

From The Spirit of St. Louis (1953)

The photo, by the way, is supposedly the last picture taken of Lindbergh’s plane (with him in it) before photographers (in a chase plane) lost sight of him as he headed out over the Atlantic.

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