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Charles Lindbergh: Neil Armstrong:

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Charles Lindbergh: Neil Armstrong:

Old 18th May 2002, 06:52
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Charles Lindbergh: Neil Armstrong:

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. "

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Old 18th May 2002, 09:12
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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.
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Old 18th May 2002, 14:12
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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.

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Old 19th May 2002, 06:13
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criticalmass:

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.
Regards,

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Old 19th May 2002, 12:05
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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?

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Old 19th May 2002, 13:06
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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.




Last edited by Check 6; 19th May 2002 at 13:10.
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Old 19th May 2002, 13:52
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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.

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Old 19th May 2002, 16:17
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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 .

Cheers
Wino

Last edited by Wino; 19th May 2002 at 16:25.
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Old 19th May 2002, 17:51
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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.
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Old 19th May 2002, 23:01
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does spaceflight count as aviation ?
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Old 20th May 2002, 06:02
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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.
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Old 20th May 2002, 09:38
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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.

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Old 20th May 2002, 11:43
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All:

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 ???

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Old 20th May 2002, 14:54
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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.

G
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Old 20th May 2002, 15:57
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Concerned about the wrong things.

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”.


Last edited by Lu Zuckerman; 20th May 2002 at 17:37.
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Old 20th May 2002, 19:30
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Smile

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.

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Old 20th May 2002, 21:06
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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
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Old 21st May 2002, 08:12
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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.

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Old 21st May 2002, 09:28
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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 ???

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Old 21st May 2002, 10:05
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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!
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