View Full Version : Charles Lindbergh: Neil Armstrong:

Prince of Dzun
18th May 2002, 05:52
Shortly after the first moon landing the prestigious American aviation group called the Quiet Birdmen hosted a dinner at which the guests of honour were Charles Lindbergh and Neil Armstrong. A good friend of mine attended this dinner and he told me that when Charles Lindbergh was introduced the applause was louder and longer than the applause for Neil Armstrong. I find this rather strange and have often wondered about the reason. Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic was momentous with his only companions being danger and loneliness but he was in a known environment even if it was hostile. Armstrong went into an area that was unknown, he was surrounded by danger and even more hostility and he knew only too well that it could so easily go wrong. The degree of skill, flying ability and performance under pressure seems equal but it is the " unknown " element that gives Neil Armstrong my applause. However, the assembled dignitaries thought otherwise and one must ask why. Perhaps it was because they ( the dignitaries ) grew up with Charles Lindbergh whereas Neil Armstrong was a new arrival. Certainly this poses a vexing question. Perhaps the best and most honourable answer would be to say there was nothing between either man.
Recently I became involved in a most spirited discussion with a group of aviation friends and this matter was debated at great length. There were most definite views expressed on which of these historical events ranked highest. The debate ended with a suggestion to " put it on Pprune and lets see what the world thinks. "

Prince of Dzun

18th May 2002, 08:12
I'll go for Neil Armstrong, who has served his country faithfully before, during and ever since his historic flight.

Lindbergh was prominent in the push to keep the US out of WW2. As a prominent American citizen of Germanic-descent he was used by pro-German groups to propagate anti-war sentiment. This was doing his country a great dis-service and tarnishes the achievement of his record-setting flight.

This is just a personal opinion and apologists for Charles Lindbergh are welcome to tear it down if they so choose. The gentleman is unable to defend himself in this forum but doubtless others will assume the mantle in his absence. A robust democracy admits this, and even requires it.

Check 6
18th May 2002, 13:12
There are two sides to every story.

Lindbergh was a charter member of Quiet Birdmen, hence the applause.

Lindbergh indeed opposed U.S. entry into WWII, as was the U.S. Congress and most Americans. President Roosevelt stood alone, behind the scenes helping Churchill before he became P.M. and later when he became P.M. supporting Britain, while he believed he would ultimately be impeached for doing so.

To criticize Lindberg for his opposition to our entry into WWII is "Monday morning quarterbacking."

He did, however, provide intelligence to the U.S. military regarding the advanced state of the prohibited Nazi manufacturing of combat aircraft and other tools of war.

Lindberg participated in combat sorties in the South Pacific, while conducting "test flights" as a manufacturers representative.

I must add that Neil Armstrong is a great American and aviator.

I hope this adds a little balance to this gentlemanly debate.

;) ;) ;)

Prince of Dzun
19th May 2002, 05:13

What you say is true but I've always felt that the political ( and other !!) implications that surround Charles Lindbergh should not be allowed to impinge on his record as an aviator. He was a great American flyer and to me his exploits are superb. However for pure daring and doing Neil Armstrong rates higher. I think we agree on this.

Prince of Dzun

Prince of Dzun
19th May 2002, 11:05
Check 6:

I didn't know that Charles Lindbergh was a charter member of the Quiet Birdmen and the applause could part way be explained by this. However I am not fully convinced. My friend who told me the story is (was) a development test pilot and imminently qualified to be a Quiet Birdman and just as qualified to make an assessment about the applause. When I asked him " why?" he told me he did not know as it mystified him . It still mystifies me. What you say certainly helps but I'm not too sure that it fully explains all. You will see from my reply to criticalmass above that I most definitely have Neil Armstrong one rung higher on the ladder. How about you?

Prince of Dzun

Check 6
19th May 2002, 12:06
Well Prince, I have great admiration for both men. We also must not forget Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, the other Apollo 11 crewmembers.

Mr. Armstrong landed on the moon on our first anniversary 20 July 1969. My wife and I were of modest means then, as I was a junior enlisted member of the U.S. Navy stationed in San Francisco. We celebrated a take-out pizza and watched the lunar landing. Yes, memories.

My all time hero for an aviator is the late Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, also a Quiet Birdman. I met Gen. Doolittle in Sacramento, California in 1987. I also have a signed copy of his autobiography "I Could Never Be So Lucky Again" that is one of my most treasured possessions.

I also have a first edition copy of Lindbergh's account of his Atlantic crossing, "The Spirit of St. Louis." It is an excellent book and oddly enough it was not his first novel. Unfortunately, it is not a signed copy.

My vote is for Gen. Doolittle.

;) ;) ;)

19th May 2002, 12:52
It's perhaps easy to forget how momentous Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic was. Flying was still new and strange, and his achievement was quite astonishing at the time. He was probably the first worldwide celebrity.

Lindbergh was, unfortunately, more culpable in the matter of US neutrality than the average American. He allowed himself to be used by Nazi propagandists, accepting a medal from Hitler and speaking positively of his regime. He later redeemed himself to some extent by teaching US Navy pilots to fly long range missions, and is believed to have shot down one or two Japanese aircraft. Later in life he became an environmentalist. An odd an interesting life: the recent biography of him is well worth a look, as are the books by his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh, particularly "North to the Orient".

Neil Armstrong is an unqualified hero. Watching moon landings and recoveries remains an enduring memory of my childhood. A pity that we remain so Earth bound.

19th May 2002, 15:17
Lindberg further sullied himself in the aftermath of WWII when he toured the death camps and was quoted as unable to see the difference between the people killed there and the soldiers killed on the battlefield.

It has also been argued that he killed his own son as the boy was retarded (he used to take his wife flying high in unpressurized A/C while she was pregnant) and he was into the Eugenics arguements of the Nazis.... If true, the executions for the kidnapping and murder would be truly tragic.

Interstingly enough I went to school in his house. The Elizabeth Morrow School in Englewood NJ is on the old Morrow/Lindberg estate, it was created by Anne Morrow Lindberg. I went from Kintergarten to 6th grade there. The upperschool (456) was in the old lindberg house. Learn about EMS (http://www.elisabethmorrow.org/) .


I have control
19th May 2002, 16:51
After Lindbergh's death Neil Armstrong was one of the people instrumental in founding the Charles Lindbergh Foundation, which was established to preserve Lindbergh's memory, work and ideas.

Armstrong has huge respect for Lindbergh and is on the record as declaring that Lindbergh's was the far greater achievement, being essentially a solo enterprise in its conception, financing and execution - Lindbergh the individual was the driving force behind the whole thing. What Armstrong represented was not so much an individual achievement but the "zenith moment" of probably the largest co-operative venture of all time (certainly in aviation history). Tens of thousands of people and billions of dollars contributed to what Armstrong did.

Both represent wonderful aviation achievements, and flying from NY to Paris in 1927 was at least the equivalent of flying to the moon, but I think the "solo" vs "group" achievement maybe explains the pedestal position that Lindbergh occupied.

Maybe some personality factors too because Armstrong is such a shy & retiring person that he doesn't really invite mass acclaim. Not that Lindbergh was particularly outgoing either.

Like some members of the British Royal Family, like the Royal British Legion, like David Lloyd George, like many others - yes Lindbergh was fascinated by the Nazis in the 30s. (He was of Scandinavian not German descent, as someone mentioned, though). This and his non-interventionist stance will damage his reputation for ever, and he must bear the responsibility for his actions, but he did do a lot to redeem himself after Pearl Harbor.

He never handed that Nazi medal back though, I saw it last weekend on display in St Louis. The caption said that Anne Morrow called it "the Albatross" the night he accepted it.

I think the person who suggested that Lindbergh killed his own child is way way off the mark. I just can't see any evidence to support that at all, and there is a helluva compelling case against the guy who was sentenced and put to death for the crime.

19th May 2002, 22:01
does spaceflight count as aviation ?

20th May 2002, 05:02
Woderick, I suggest that the fact that the Quiet Birdmen accepted both men into their ranks, indicates that, they at least, regard both as aviation activities.

20th May 2002, 08:38
Claims about Lindbergh's kidnapped child include the claim that he is still alive, but is now a black woman (the kidnappers changed his sex and died his skin, of course). As pointed out above, the evidence points firmly at Hauptmann (the only person executed in connection with the crime) being, at the very least, heavily implicated in a kidnapping which went wrong when he or one of the others (if there were others) dropped the baby whilst escaping. The facts of Lindbergh's life are interesting enough by themselves, and don't require embellishment by fantasy and speculation.

Prince of Dzun
20th May 2002, 10:43

Some very interesting and informative views which lends support to the saying that we learn something everyday.

Check 6:
You have not declared yourself my friend. You have dodged the issue and slipped in another great American flyer. Let's see if I can change your mind. Below is a short passage from " First on the Moon" by Gene Farrer and it refers to something Neil Armstrong lived with from day one. In reply to a question he said quote" We were not distracted by the question of whether the ascent engine would light, but we were surely thinking about it. " unquote. One could hardly blame him for thinking about it because so were millions of others. I felt a sensation of pleasure and relief when that untried and untested toy rocket for the very first time lifted off.
Neil Armstrtong had to think of a trillion things and one of them embraced the possibility that he might be stranded. Have I changed your mind ???

Prince of Dzun

Genghis the Engineer
20th May 2002, 13:54
Both were very capable men who dedicated their lives, in varying proportions, to their profession, the furthering of aerospace ventures, and their country. As such I'd suggest both deserve great respect.

I'm not surprised Lindberg got the greater applause, Wisdom achievement and historical events seem far greater the further away they are - NA was the recent achiever at the time. This is just a fact of human perception and nothing to do with their respective qualities.

They did subtly different things, in different ways (for example the immediate physical resilience of Lindberg was probably greater whilst Armstrong's ability to work with a large and complex team must have been superb), both to the best of their abilities so far as they can tell, and both ultimately with complete success. I frankly wouldn't allow knowledge of their political views or personal lives, good bad or indifferent, to cloud my view of that.


Lu Zuckerman
20th May 2002, 14:57
We were not distracted by the question of whether the ascent engine would light, but we were surely thinking about it.

I would think that Armstrong’s concerns were valid but he would have driven himself nuts if he expressed concerns about getting to the moon as opposed to returning to earth.

I was assigned to Marshal Space Flight center as a senior project engineer on the propulsion system for the Saturn IV B as well as the Sky Lab. One of my functions was to attend the stage managers meeting which Werner Von Braun chaired with this meeting-taking place prior to the assembly of the Saturn V. Each stage manager had to make a presentation regarding the reliability of his stage with the requirement to achieve and demonstrate a reliability of 5-sigma or.99999XX. This equates to a Mean Time between Failure of 100,000 hours, which really isn’t very good for a space vehicle. This especially true when you compare it to commercial aviation which requires a Lambda of 10 9 for a catastrophic system failure. Also the stage managers had to qualify the reliability figure by expressing a confidence level relative to the achievement of that goal. Douglas whom I worked for consistently came up with the highest confidence level for every SIV B stage and it never exceeded 70%. I would assume that a similar meeting was taking place at the Johnson Space Flight Center for the Apollo and the LEM.

Every player in the manufacturer of the three stages and the instrument ring was in attendance at those meetings. Everybody except the Astronauts.

There was a joke among the Astronauts as they entered the Apollo Capsule one looked at the other two and said, “just think this entire vehicle was made by the lowest bidder”.


Check 6
20th May 2002, 18:30
Prince, I did not dodge the question, but feel that both Lindberg and Armstrong are/were great men and deserving of my respect and admiration for their accomplishments in aviation and/or space exploration.

I do not need to apologize for mentioning Gen. Doolittle in this forum.

As for Lindberg's politics, many other public figures were impressed with Hitler, and later realized how wrong they were. History tells us who they were and there is no reason to list them here.

Besides Lindberg's solo Atlantic crossing, he also contributed significantly to developing our U.S. air mail system and airline routes to South America.

You must read his novel "The Sprit of St. Louis" to develop a better appreciation of his accomplishments. He was truly a "needle, ball, airspeed" accomplished aviator.

They both made significant contributions to aviation as we know it today.

;) ;) ;)

20th May 2002, 20:06
The moon landing is one event I will never forget. Neil Armstrong and the whole crew get my vote, BUT when you talk of achievement in an unknown sphere how about the chaps in Appollo 13? Those men would get my vote any day for their performance

Prince of Dzun
21st May 2002, 07:12
I have control , Genghis the Engineer:

You have both presented a well balanced summary and I am sure the majority of readers would agree with what you say. I found the reference to the medal and the fact that it is on public display rather interesting. Genghis, I agree that political views and personal life should not come into this debate.

Prince of Dzun

Prince of Dzun
21st May 2002, 08:28
Lu Zuckerman:

Your postings are a pleasure to read and I would like to compliment you on your contributions to these boards. I read ( or someone told me) that the lunar module had only one ignition system and the fuel plumbing etc was not duplicated. If this is the case and there were no backups for the major components then either NASA had 100% faith in their engineering or it was a case of take a chance. Also it has always intrigued me and I could never understand how NASA knew the exact gravitational force of the moon , so that the thrust from the lunar module could be sufficient to achieve orbit. If the engine had of given say only 75% of its design thrust would this have been sufficient to do the job or was it a case of 100% or nothing.

I now have to attend to Check 6 who is proving difficult to convince. He is standing on the doorstep of the Neil Armstrong camp and I'm going to make another attempt to get him to step inside.

Check 6:

I agree with everything you say and there is no argument between us but in my humble opinion you do yourself a diservice by not having a positive opinion. Here is another short piece from " First on the Moon ". The words are those of NASA administrator Dr. T. Paine quote: " He wanted to see the three men once again. On July 10 he flew down to Cape Kennedy to have a private dinner with them. He wanted to tell them something: If you get into trouble up there, don't hesitate to abort. Come on home. Don't get killed. If you do have to abort, I promise you that this crew will be slipped ahead in the mission sequence. You will get another chance. Just don't get killed.." unquote. Now have you changed your mind ???

Prince of Dzun

Lou Scannon
21st May 2002, 09:05
Don't forget that Armstrong achieved a first in aviation whereas Lindberg only came second in crossing the Atlantic. Second that is to Flight Lieutenants Alcock and Brown who crossed it many years before.

Now there were two men who would have received a round of applause!

Capt. Crosswind
22nd May 2002, 03:17
I suggest that Smithy's crossing of the Pacific was a more significant event than any Atlantic crossing.

Prince of Dzun
22nd May 2002, 05:43
Capt. Crosswind:

What you say may be big time to Australia but it is small time to the world. For instance: The mulitple pioneering flights of Jean Mermoz across the Southern Atlantic easily eclipse what Charles Kingsford Smith managed to do. Ask any French aviator when Jean Mermoz lost his life and not only will you be told the date but you will be told where in the Atlantic it occurred. Nothing personal CC just making a point.

Prince of Dzun

Iron City
22nd May 2002, 15:05
The Atlantic crossing was third actually if you count the R-34.

MAybe the "significance" of an aviation/aerospace event is a function of technical difficulty/significance + economic ramifications + public attention over time = significance

In that case:

Alcock and Brown : Operationally difficult, technologically trivial (an army surplus a/c) + economicly trivial over short term, over long term showed the way for commercial translant but technology wasn't available + public attention very significant at the time, fell off to attention by specialists mainly. Significance?

Lindberg: technical advance in engine technology, state of art airframe but not greatly advanced + economicly trivial over short term, over longterm reinforce possibility of commerical traffic...DC-2, B-207, Electra in development if near future + media went nuts worldwide, caught the public imagination big time, maintained interest due to other activities. Significance?

R-34: Technically advanced design of a dead end technology (advanced buggy whips) + none to speak of because there was no economical airship operations + public attention significant at the time over a realtively small area (UK, Canada, north east US) and then by specialists Little staying power in the public eye. Significance?

Do you agree with the equation?

I have control
22nd May 2002, 23:16
There were several more Atlantic crossings before Lindbergh than just the R-34 - involving some multi-stop journeys but at least one non-stop in the airship ZR-3. There is a book called "91 before Lindbergh" which details these various flights. Can't lay my hands on it at this very moment.

I'm not sure Alcock and Brown's flight was technologically or economically trivial. It represented the huge advance in aviation technology that had occurred during WW1, which I consider to be at least equal if not greater than the technology jump in WW2. In 5 years aviation went from being a quirky, dangerous and unreliable thing for a showman to display at the county fair - to being something capable of hauling a useful load over the Atlantic. Alcock and Brown demonstrated this technology advance in a very public fashion, and helped stimulate the beginnings of the commercial aviation industry. Not a coincidence that the first scheduled airline service began in 1919 also.

R-34 was relatively insignificant in the long term, but still a great achievement for 1919, especially making it both ways.

Lindbergh's significance was greater, no question. I would suggest not for technological reasons, but certainly for economic. Because of what he did before and after his flight Lindbergh was an enormous hero figure, a massively popular role model and advocate for aviation. Crucially he was an American hero. He was a very significant catalyst in turning American consciousness, finance and industry towards aviation. After the frontier of the West had been conquered, he showed a new frontier that America could attack - with all the nation's recently-found wealth and technology. America was a nation perfectly ready for aviation: economically, geographically - and here's where Lindy really made a difference - socially. There was a huge explosion in airplane and airport building after 1927, a general embracing of aviation. Read the memoirs of the "greats" who followed - designers, manufacturers, WW2 aces etc etc and see how many times Lindbergh is cited as their inspiration.

So I think this is why the British achievements were less significant. Not because the achievement was any less magnificent or dangerous, but because the effects were less significant.

Anyway, thank you for giving me the opportunity to wax lyrical about one of my favourite topics!

Lu Zuckerman
23rd May 2002, 00:07
To: Prince of Dzun

I read ( or someone told me) that the lunar module had only one ignition system and the fuel plumbing etc was not duplicated. If this is the case and there were no backups for the major components then either NASA had 100% faith in their engineering or it was a case of take a chance.

I can only speak to the Saturn IV B Lunar insertion stage and the Skylab and to my recollection the only redundancy in the propulsion system was the fuel control valves which were on the attitude control motors. This redundancy was mainly to prevent leakage of the hypergolic fuel into the combustion chambers. None of the other propulsion systems were redundant.

The faith NASA placed on everything working correctly was the extensive testing performed by Douglas and I assume the other two stage contractors (Boeing and North American). If an element (module) failed any part of the test the test would have to be repeated from the beginning until the module passed. After all of the modules passed their test they were installed on the battleship tank and plumbed up just like the stage. The J-2 engine and all of the other mechanical elements were operated in a normal atmosphere and the systems and plumbing were fine-tuned. Then the systems were installed on another battleship tank at The Tullahoma Arnold Space Development Center and the stage was operated at a simulated altitude of 400,000 feet or outer space. Even with all of the testing Douglas never had more than a 70% confidence level that everything would work as designed. 100% confidence was a fantasy. NASA spent millions to duplicate the Douglas and Tullahoma battleship stages and millions more for testing. However none of the data recorded in the NASA tests were valid because the plumbing in no way reflected the stage resulting from different pressure drops and fluid flows not being representative of the actual systems. But that didn’t stop them.

As far as the gravity on the moon I would assume that it was calculated by the same people that calculated the weight of a one cubic inch block of steel at the center of the sun.

Here are three little known facts about the Apollo and Skylab programs:

1) At the university of Dayton (Ohio) there was a female PHD candidate in Human Factors that measured the flacid length of over 200 male pen!ses to determine the average length. This was to develop a common device that would fit all Astronauts enabling them to urinate inside their flight suits. There was such a variation in the Astronaut community that each one had his own device created. At that point there were no secrets at the manufacturer of the space suits.

2) In order to determine if any of the Skylab Astronauts had suffered bone loss each of them had to take a charcoal pill with their food. The charcoal would be absorbed into their bones and any not absorbed would be past out with the excrement. When it was publicly stated that the Astronauts returned with personal items some of those items were recovered feces which were measured for carbon content. This way they could determine if there was any bone loss and how much.

3) There was a PHD at MSFC in Alabama that created a machine that would masticate food products form them into a tube and extrude the material though a controllable orifice which would size the extruded material to be representative of human feces. He would then take a representative sample (various sizes) and expose them to a hard vacuum and measuring the out-gassing of the sublimating samples. This included simulated urine. In outer space this out-gassing would impart a propulsive force causing the Skylab to perturb causing misalignment of antennae and solar panels. To correct for this misalignment the attitude control motors would have to fire to restore the orbital attitude of the Skylab. The end effect of this testing was to ensure an adequate fuel supply in each of the two attitude control modules.


23rd May 2002, 00:10
The LEM ascent engine was well tested before Apollo 9, obviously with many ground tests but also on 2 previous flights. On Apollo 9 the LEM was flown 182km from the Command Module before seperation and return of the ascent stage. On Apollo 10 they flew down to 14 km from the surface before seperation and return of the ascent stage, although they did have stability problems after seperation.
Although the Lunar Orbital Rondezvous technique used by Apollo was successful, there were advantages to the original Lunar Surface Rondezvous proposal as extra supplies could be delivered if the engine had failed to work on take off.
There was actually no fuel pump and no ignition system as the propellant tanks (50/50 mixture of hydazine and UDMH as fuel and nitrogen tetroxide oxidiser) were pressurised with helium and the propellants were hypogolic, igniting on contact.

I. M. Esperto
23rd May 2002, 18:42

This is the best site I have ever seen concerning Lindbergh and his life.

Lindbergh did his best to educate the American public about what was going on in Europe, and the efforts of many to drag the USA into another European war.

Henry Ford did the same thing prior to WWI.

They were VERY popular with the majority of Americans then.

I can remember as a child, in NYC, where not everybody had a radio (circa 1935), crowds gathering in front of the local grocery store to listen to the loudspeakers broadcast speeches by Lindbergh and Father Coughlin. They were cheered loudly, and the broadcasts ended with Kate Smith singing "God Bless America." (The origin of the term "It ain't over until the fat lady sings, BTW.) FDR threatened to have Fr. Coughlin thrown in jail if he made one more speech. I seem to recall he went to canada after than and continued as "The Priest of the Airways."

Similarly, there were cheers from everybody in the streets when The Hindenberg passed majestically overhead on her way to NAS Lakehurst.

I have control
23rd May 2002, 21:56
I. M. Esperto

So, do you think it was a good thing that America did eventually get dragged into "another European war"?

23rd May 2002, 22:40
IHC - I think the reason the British efforts do not get the recognition they deserve is precicely that, they were NOT American, I always find it frustrating that if you ask who first flew the Atlantic non stop, any American (and a disturbing amount of others), will say Lindberg, forgetting both the Airship and Alcock & Brown.

Check 6
24th May 2002, 05:40
Foxmoth, you are not totally correct sir. Most Americans are aware that Lindbergh was the first to fly solo solo across the Atlantic. Is this not accurate?



24th May 2002, 09:57
Yes this is correct, but my point was if you ask most Americans MY ? (who was first across, not asking who was first SOLO), they STILL answer Lindberg and most know NOTHING about the previous crossings.:rolleyes: :mad:

24th May 2002, 10:27

Were the Americans "dragged into another European war."? I don't think so. The attack on Pearl Harbour instigated their actions. But while it pleased Winston Churchill that they entered the war, it was inevitable that they would fight on two fronts, just as we did. It was after all, a global war as soon as Japan made the attack.

I hope you don't mind me pointing that out.

It's a bit off topic too. So back to the main thread.

Check 6
24th May 2002, 11:17
Camelpilot, a great book that tells "the rest of the story," not exactly what we learned in American history classes, is The Man they called Intrepid.

President Roosevelt wanted to declare war on Germany long before 1941, but our Congress, and public opinion did not support him.

So instead, he helped the UK through PM Churchill via clandestine means, using Mr. William Stephenson (Intrepid) as a middle man. Pres. Roosevelt felt strongly that he was going to be impeached because of his actions in supporting the U.K. prior to December 1941 (Pearl Harbour).

I hope Stephenson is a hero in the U.K. because in my eyes he was a great man. Sorry, another issue here.


;) ;) ;)

tony draper
24th May 2002, 11:47
Neil Armstrong, had a halfway decent aviation series on Discovery a couple of years back, he flew and described most of the classic warbirds, fighters from the fifties and sixties, I wonder why they have not been repeated, discovery tends to repeat stuff to death.
He always struck me as a very modest unasuming man, and he seems to have deliberatly kept himself out of the media spotlight, that makes him a hero twice over in my book.

Prince of Dzun
24th May 2002, 11:58
I.M. Esperto:
I enjoyed reading the article you put up and found it interesting to learn that the " Spirit of St. Louis " had two compasses. Good thinking as the compass was without a doubt the most important instrument Charles Lindbergh had. Also in that article there is reference to the Bell X-1 ( in the Smithsonian) that says quote:
" in which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier " unquote. In the interest of truth I hope this is not implying that he was the first to do so because as far as I understand it he was 24 hours too late.

tony draper:
My sentiments also, it looks as the applause at the dinner was perhaps misdirected.

Prince of Dzun

I. M. Esperto
24th May 2002, 13:13
I Have Control - I have no idea why Wilson entered the USA into WWI. I think it was unjustified, and a mistake.

Had we not sided with Britain? Who knows. Think tanks have wrestled over this one ever since.

It is quite possible that without our entry, the Allies and Central Powers would have come to a truce, and there would have been no obscene Treaty of Versailles, which was the root cause of WWII, IMO.

(Standing by to exchange broadsides.)

Iron City
24th May 2002, 14:30
Believe it is correct that most Americans would not name Alcock and Brown (or is it Brown and Alcock?) as first across the Atlantic (if you call Ireland really across), or even know that they existed but that is beside the point.
May have not had proper appreciation for the technical/operational demonstration by these two gentlemen, but got the impression that it was a fairly plain vanilla Vickers Vimy with all the extra gas that could be included. Good point about demonstrating the range and operational capability of airplanes in the real and very demanding world over the N. Atlantic. It did start, or at least give a wopping good kick in the pants, to commercial ambitions.

When did scheduled commercial service start across the N. Atlantic and who did it? First passenger across was a New Yorker not long (a month or so?) after Lindberg.

Believe most of these "Who was (first, best, biggest,etc fill in the blank), Mr. X or Mr. Y? " questions are not going to resolve to an answer really. What they do is result in lots of conversation, flush out some facts you didn't know, flush out a lot more opinions, many of which should be flushed, and all in all result in a jolly conversation. Which, IMHO, is what boards like these are for.

I. M. Esperto
24th May 2002, 16:27
The Hindenburg offered real trans Atlantic service on a practical scale.

24th May 2002, 23:13
This thread started as a relativly simple question on whether Lindbergh or Armstrong was the most deserving of recognition.We are now considering why the USA was "dragged" into the two world wars and who was really first across the Atlantic, among other things. With that in mind I feel able to ask Prince and others who was really first to break the sound barrier.

Lu Zuckerman
25th May 2002, 01:18
To: Bonzaman

You allude to the fact that Chuck Yeager was not the first to break the sound barrier. The following was taken off of an Internet site dealing with the breaking of the sound barrier. It is the introduction to a detailed description of the X-1 program and the development of the aircraft.

Fifty years ago, in 1947, it was common knowledge that there was a "Wall of Air" at the speed of sound. As an airplane neared this critical point, shock waves would buffet its wings and tail. The pilot would lose control; a condition then called "compressibility." Often, the airplane would shatter into pieces.
Dozens had lost their life trying to break through this "sound barrier."

By early 1947, the British had thrown in the towel when their plane, a unique tailless design called "The Swallow," self-destructed at 0.94 Mach. The pilot, Geoffrey De Havilland, Jr., was killed instantly.

This left the field to the Americans.


25th May 2002, 05:02
Bad info, ignore.

I. M. Esperto
25th May 2002, 10:43
18 wheeler - M.52 a copy of the X-1?
I fail to see any relative resemblance. The X-1 was rocket propelled. etc..

What do you base your accusation that the USA killed the M.52 on?

Spiney Norman
25th May 2002, 11:47
18 wheeler.
I have to say I can't agree with your assertion that the USA killed the Miles M52. Here's a quote from 'Faster than Sound' by Bill Gunston which I think is pretty to the point..
'On 18th July 1946 the Ministry of supply held a press conference on high-speed flight. The newly knighted Sir Ben Lockspeiser announced: 'The impression that supersonic aircraft are just around the corner is quite erroneous, but the difficulties will be tackled by the use of rocket-driven models. We have not the heart to ask pilots to fly the high-speed models, so we shall make them radio controlled'. He said the M52 had been cancelled 'for reasons of economy'. The Ministry took great pains to try to make the media forget about the M52, repeatedly calling it 'a piece of dead research'.
It is true that the UK government did release the research on the M52 project to the USA but it is conjectural as to wether any of it actually found it's way into the Bell X1. My guess is that there was a lot more German wartime research in the X1 project than anything else, particularly from Messerchmidt, Lippisch, and possibly DFS work.
As is so often the case in the UK, brilliant research done , quite often,on a shoe-string was wasted because of short-sighted politicians and through lack of finance. Something, certainly in the case of money, which is rarely the case in the US.
My apologies for straying off topic.


25th May 2002, 12:35
M'kay, apologies, I was given some bad info.
Edited the post to completely retract my statement.

tony draper
25th May 2002, 20:31
Watched a documentry on the Miles M52, that hinted very strongly that this project was deliberatly scuppered at the insistance of the usa,who had visited Miles, copied and photographed everything with great enthusiasm, then renaged on the deal that would have allowed a similar visit to the states by Brit engineers
Documentry spin mebbee, but from what i remember, the bell x1 looked almost Identical,
Perhaps similar solutions to similar engineering probs, it also had a full moving tail plane that I heard Chuck Yeager state that we the Brits knew nothing about. at the time.
I also believe a radio controled model of the m52 did indeed fly at over mach one shortly after.
I realise that this was a Discovery documentry, and they tend to hype things up a tad, but? ,shades of the TSR2, and that Canadian one whoes name I cannot bring to mind at the mo.(Swallow)?

henry crun
25th May 2002, 21:36
The Canadian one you are thinking of TD is the Arrow.

Another mighty machine strangled at birth by polititians. :mad:

I. M. Esperto
25th May 2002, 23:46
Tony - Arrant nonsense. The X-1 and M.52 do not bear the slightest resemblence to one another.

The M.52 was a weird design, whereas the X-1 was straight foreward, practicle, and rocket powered.

Prince of Dzun
26th May 2002, 05:22
I.M. Esperto:

Your excellent contribution to this debate would be further enhanced if you had not dodged ( shades of Check 6) the question regarding " who was the first man to break the sound barrier ". Perhaps you lack information on this so here's a little something for you to consider. I'm sorry if its somewhat vague but it's all I know.

Near the USA Air Force base where everything was happening there was a bar owned by a well known old time aviatrix. This bar was frequented by those engaged on the sound barrier problem. One of the pilots (whose name I forget ) told his drinking friends that next day he hoped to slip through the sound barrier and they should all listen for a sonic boom. Sure enough right on time there was a sonic boom heard by all those in the bar and the windows of the bar rattled. There was a call for drinks and celebrations. However it was premature because the USA Airforce said it did not happen and surprise surprise they announced that the actual event took place the following day in the Bell X-1 flown by Chuck Yeager. The inference is that credit should go to the ace and not the unknown pilot. Better for home consumption !!!

I read all this in a quality USA aviation magazine which unfortunately I have misplaced. Unless someone can completely discredit this story then I for one will always have doubts about who was First.

Prince of Dzun

henry crun
26th May 2002, 07:46
Prince of Dzun. I have read a lot on this subject and while I do not dispute that Yeager may possibly have been second I query the prior knowledge you credit this person with.

All my reading says that no one knew what would happen when an aircraft passed mach 1, so how did this hotshot know that he would cause a sonic boom ?

26th May 2002, 08:53
As I would like to see the original topic continue, I have an input here that will I think put the matter of the 'sound barrier' to rest on this thread, but feel free to start new topic on the subject.

I will quote from one of the greatest test pilots, the late and great Roland Beamont. From his last book "The Years Flew Past."

More than fifty years (1947) have passed since the speed of sound was exceeded in level flight by the Bell XS1 research aircraft flown by Major Chuck Yeager.

And further, in a Chapter entitled 'Compressibility' - The Sound Barrier. Using examples of aircraft that were flown in dives - Spitire (0.9), P47, P51, Me109G, P38, Corsair and Me262, plus many others, he comments that many a fine pilot was killed trying to assess the 'sound barrier', which was the compressibility factor. In 1943 Ken Seth Smith was killed diving a Typhoon. In 1944 Major Fred Borsodi, a USAF test pilot at the Wright Field Test centre, bought back for the first time photographs of shock waves blooming above the wings of P51 at around Mach 0.85. There is much more. But significantly, this passage.

In America, in a courageous development and testing programnme, the final breakthrough was achieved in 1947 when Chuck Yeager flew the this straight-winged Bell XS1 to a level Mach 1.06 over the Mojave Desert, while in the same period George Welsh was diving the North American XP86 Sabre swept wing fighter protoptype in controlled flight at Mach1.

As far as the Miles M52 goes, he asserts that none of the aircraft we produced was ever going to result in a true supersonic fighter.

Except of course, and until, English Electric under W.E.W Petter and his magnificent design team commenced research on the P.1.

The rest, as they say, is history. A magnificent history written by magnificent men (in their flying machines!).

John Farley
26th May 2002, 10:43
Both men were extremely brave and competent – how can you choose between them on that basis?

But Lindbergh did so much with so little support. That’s what I admire about him.

(It’s a bit like picking the best display at an airshow. The crowd will pick the Arrows but I am more impressed by the two man private team doing brilliant formation aerobatics in a couple of gliders. To succeed without support does it for me, every time)

Spiney Norman
26th May 2002, 10:54
Sorry to butt in gentlemen but as I thought the discussion about Early supersonic flight was getting interesting I've started a new topic to, hopefully, as Camel pilot suggested, keep it going.


Prince of Dzun
26th May 2002, 12:53
Henry Crun:

I honestly can't answer your question about how the pilot knew about the sonic boom. Perhaps he did not know and perhaps it's journalism written in hindsight. All I'm doing is repeating what I read and if I can find that journal I'll tell you the name of it. Your question is a good one but if the drinkers heard a boom and the windows rattled then you must admit they can't be blamed for wanting to celebrate.

Camel pilot:
Don't you think that Roland Beaumont would only have reiterated the offical line ie what the USA Airforce said ? Pilot George Welsh (mentioned in your quote) may be the one whose name I am trying to recall.

Prince of Dzun

26th May 2002, 16:31
P of D, George Welsh is the ONLY one who was in a position to make an attempt during "the period". it is known that there was no-one else I think you will find. However, his 'attempt' was in a DIVE, not in level flight - as in Chuck Yeager's case. A major difference.

So, now that a thread on the subject of compressibility has opened, you can follow on from John Farley's latest post on the original thread. There is so much to talk about on the subject. And it has to be said that JF puts forward an extremely valid point regarding support. The two 'gliders' he refers to, did it by begging money and persuading industry to sponsor them.

But just for the record, I think Lindbergh's flight was phenominal. Just sitting in a box, and flying almost blind, frightens me to death just thinking about it!

I. M. Esperto
26th May 2002, 16:42
In the USA, The History Channel (for cable subscribers) has done an excellent job of several one hour programs about Charles Lindbergh and his Grandson Eric, in his Lancaire.

The part of the flight that boggles my mind is how he managed to do all this, after 2 days of not sleeping, in a "box", with no autopilot.

Every time I flew my L-1011 JFK-CDG, with autopilot, co-pilot, FE, INS, coffee, steak, etc. served hourly by sweet smelling young ladies, I thought of how this great man paved the way to make it all possible.

26th May 2002, 17:51
Well said. Couldn't agree more.

tony draper
26th May 2002, 18:48

Hmmm, I dunno, paint this bugga red and what yer got??;)

I. M. Esperto
26th May 2002, 18:56
A red ******, which means yer nose is bleedin', but you DON'T GET AN X-1


Lu Zuckerman
26th May 2002, 19:28
It is my understanding that the shape of the X-1 was derived from a 50-caliber bullet, which has a muzzle velocity well in excess of the speed of sound.

tony draper
26th May 2002, 21:00
Yes I've heard that said and read it in various account of the Bell x, but why should that be?, I dont think a fifty cal round is shaped much differently from any other high velocity round.
Most rounds are supersonic, right down to .22 rimfire, I know that for a fact, had one go past me right ear at a distance of about two inches, nice sonic crack it made. :rolleyes:

Prince of Dzun
27th May 2002, 07:10
I.M. Esperto:

I'll forgive you for not answering your correspondence because it seems you and I have at least One thing in common. Memories of perfume on the flight deck of a Lockheed 1011. Did you happen to notice that it (the perfume) seemed to linger longer on a dark night when all the white cockpit lights were off. I've often wondered why this was so.

Prince of Dzun

27th May 2002, 07:44
Prince of Dzun--
The story going around Muroc at the time was that Bob Hoover had exceeded mach one in a dive with the F86..shortly before Yeager in the X-1. Don't know if this is true or not, but was told this by Bill Bridgeman, the Douglas test pilot that flew the D558-2 later on. I personally met some of the pilots involved with flight test in those early days...it was an exciting time in Southern California.

I. M. Esperto
27th May 2002, 13:37
To think I went through all that for a lousy $130 an hour!

God be with the days!

7th Jun 2002, 03:54
Neil Armstrong is MY GREAT UNCLE!!!! Isn't that neat!!!! But you probably won't belive me...I wish I could prove it somehow!!:(

tony draper
7th Jun 2002, 07:58
Drapes believer yer SW
Gerris autograph forris. ;)

Mac the Knife
9th Jun 2002, 11:04
I. M. Esperto wrote "I Have Control - I have no idea why Wilson entered the USA into WWI. I think it was unjustified, and a mistake."

On Januart 17th 1917 "Room 40" of British Naval Intelligence intercepted and decoded a telegram from the German Foreighn Minister Zimmermann to their Ambassador in Washington. This showed that Germany was attempting to initiate an alliance with Mexico and Japan against America. It was eventually passed to Wilson who had no alternative but to enter the War.


All this at a time when German was supposedly "negociating" with the USA to maintain peace!

Get a copy of "The Zimmermann Telegram - How the USA Entered the Great War" by Barbara Tuchmann (1958) and read it - then decide whether it was "..unjustified and a mistake".

I. M. Esperto
9th Jun 2002, 14:14
Mack - This is a sticky wicket indeed.

The American press made it appear that the sinking of the Lusitania was justification to enter the was agasinst the Central Powers. There is no legal basis for this.

The final blow came when it was claimed that the SS Sussex had also been sunk, with American casualties. This was a deliberate lie spread by the Admiralty and the US Press. The Sussex was safe.


At this point, we get into international intrigue, The Balfour Declaration, statements by a whistleblower named Ben Freedman, etc..

I don't know if this forum wants to go into this matter. It is quite sensitive. You can investigate it all with Google.

In any even, the USA could have easily handled any problem with Mexico.

Mac the Knife
9th Jun 2002, 16:23
Well, well "Esperto" - Interesting "refutation", interesting page. The "authority" that you quote to buttress what I presume is your view is no less than Mr. Unite Us ([email protected])of Los Angeles, Ca. who writes:

[Mr. Unite Us appears to have mistaken David Horowitz's anti-liberal FrontPage Magazine for an extreme right-wing publication]

"By 1916 Germany had all but won WWI. They offered England a peace settlement. Jews convinced England that they would bring the United States into the war to defeat Germany. All England had to do was support a homeland for Jews in Palenstine. Of course no one decided to ask the Palenstinians about the deal."

[Then follows the text of the Balfour Declaration which I will not burden you with.]

"Back in the U.S. a Jewish Attorney reminded President Wilson of an illicit affair he had during his days at Princeton. This eventually led Wilson to agree to enter the war. The public was falsely told that Germans had sunk the S.S. Sussex. Since the media was dominated by Jews the word spread quickly. Americans Black and White went to war and defeated the Germans. Naturally Germans blamed the Jews for their defeat. In 1933 Jews declared a worldwide boycott against German Merchandize."

Furthermore, you have the effrontery to cite Ben Freedman. Well PPRuNers, why not go to http://sweetliberty.org/issues/hoax/freedman.htm and read what this monumentally deluded (or opportunistic) individual was saying in 1961 and judge for yourselves?

You are quite right that the matter is sensitive. It is sensitive because this is Irving style anti-semitic revisionist claptrap. I am certainly not going to engage in a futile dialogue with someone who (I must be charitable here) I would prefer to presume has been "misinformed" and who cites such dubious sources - I'd sooner debate with a member of the Flat-Earth Society.

I. M. Esperto
9th Jun 2002, 16:35
Mac - I did not post what you did because I felt it might be against forum rules, but you went ahead anyway.

Don't blame me. I did not write any of it.

As to the veracity of it, we can all make up our minds.

9th Jun 2002, 20:03
I don't think any part of the last three posts here have anything to do with the subject. Indeed, they are leaning too far towards politics, which as you must know, have NO place on PPRuNe. Please deisist from further comments on this and return to the subject.

It's a good thread and I would like to see it maintain it's hitherto high level of interest value. I would not enjoy having to close it.

Aircraft History and NostalgiaModerator
[email protected]

I. M. Esperto
9th Jun 2002, 20:22
I agree 100%

Matt Black
23rd Jun 2002, 03:41
This is a fascinating thread! I don't normally venture into this forum, sticking to the flight test forum where I fit in quite nicely low down in the food chain.

The topic seems to have drifted off a bit, so may I add my two cents?

Looking at both Lindbergh's and Armstrong's acheivements it is perhaps worth remembering that those present at the Quiet Birdmen's dinner were dining shortly after the first moon-landing. As has been previously mentioned, many of those in the room grew up with Charles Lindburgh as their boyhood hero, whereas Armstrong was the new kid on the block. At the time of Apollo 11, American was emroilled in a bitter conflict in SE Asia, there was social unrest within the US and the concept of the anti-hero had been established. For these reasons, my view is that the impact that Apollo 11 had was lessened as it took place in a more cynical time. Let us remember that Lindbergh was probably the first "Global Celebrity". For these reasons, I believe he received the greater applause, as he was already an historic figure in the aviation world.

In terms of guts, daring, call it what you will, any pilot who is willing to climb into a craft, not knowing if they will see their loved ones again, is deserving of respect, no matter what their motives, political allegiances, race, gender, shoe size or what have you.

Yes Armstrong's achievement was the culmination of a national effort ( as opposed to Lindbergh's smaller project ), but from a professional technical perspective, Armstrong was more experienced, highly trained and skilled in the science of aviation, and had flown real-life combat missions in fighters from carriers, in an age when jets were still un-reliable. He flew rocket powered aircraft ( one of only two astronauts to do so ) and holds a first degree and masters in aeronautical fields.

I think in centuries to come, when history allows us to properly place events in their correct context, Armstong's name may well be the name which all qoute in respect of the last century, in much the same way as we remember Christopher Columbus.

SW, I hope he is your uncle, give him a pat on the back from the boys at Boscombe Down and Farnborough, he's welcome on my aircraft any time.:)

Check 6
23rd Jun 2002, 07:26
MB you make some good points.

However, it is VERY IMPORTANT to point out that you will not find a more patriotic group than Quiet Birdmen (QB's).

Yes, there was an anti-war movement around that time, but there is no relationship to this movement and the QB's.

IMHO I still believe that if Lindbergh received a more generous applause, it was because he was a Charter Member of the QB's, i.e. one of our own.

Matt Black
4th Jul 2002, 20:08
Hi Check 6,

I in no way intended to imply that The Quiet Birdmen were/are anything but patriotic, and I know they are quite the opposite. My apologies if my posting gave that impression.

My point was that Lindbergh was a boyhood hero to those in the room, whereas Armstrong had come along during a different era, hence attitudes, no matter how patriotic, would have changed, hence the difference in perception ( IMHO ).

Regards from Blighty, and a Happy Independence day to our freinds in the USA.