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First Night Flight of Charles Lindbergh

In the acclaim for Charles Augustus Lindbergh following his solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, few people recognized the small but significant role Arkansas played in the historic event. Today, a modest monument off Highway 159 near Lake Village (Chicot County) marks the Arkansas site that contributed to one of the greatest stories in American history.

In April 1923, Charles Lindbergh was a young airmail pilot who had taught himself to fly. He had engine trouble on a flight between Mississippi and Houston, Texas, and landed near Lake Chicot in Lake Village, in an open space which was used as a local golf course. The nearest building was the clubhouse. The keeper, Mr. Henry, and his family sometimes used the building as an inn and extended their hospitality to the young pilot.

After repairing the plane (which had no instruments, radios, or other navigational tools), Lindbergh noticed the evening’s bright full moon and clear sky. In his book, We, Lindbergh said it was “an ideal night for flying” in the soft yellow moonlight, adding: “I decided to see what the country looked like from the air at night and jokingly asked my host to accompany me. For some reason, he had no fear of a night flight although I had been unable to persuade him to go up with me in the daytime. What his reaction would have been, had he known that I had never flown after dark before, is a matter of speculation.” They apparently had a brief but pleasant flight by moonlight over Lake Village and the Mississippi River, as Lindbergh’s host later remarked that evening that he had “never spent a more enjoyable quarter hour in his life.”

Four years later, Lindbergh was able to use the night-flying skills that he first tried in Arkansas by flying day and night in the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic.

The foundation stones of the old clubhouse Lindbergh mentioned are currently on private property on North Lake Shore Road in Lake Village. An obelisk monument was placed there in 1934 by the Chicot Delphian Society and marks the area of the flight.

For additional information:
Lake Village. http://www.seark.net/~sabra/lv.html (accessed. November 1, 2005).

Lindbergh, Charles A. We. Cutchogue, NY: Buccaneer Books, 1991.

“Lindbergh First Night Flight, April 1923, Lake Village, Arkansas.” http://www.charleslindbergh.com/history/night.asp (accessed November 1, 2005).

Nancy Hendricks
Arkansas State University

Last Updated 1/21/2011

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