Charles Lindbergh

Lost airport amenity: Lindbergh’s monocoupe leaving St. Louis airport

For years, the 1934 Model D-127 Monocoupe once owned by aviator Charles Lindbergh has been on display at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL), over the Concourse C security checkpoint in Terminal 1.

But the airplane, which has been on loan to the airport from the Missouri Historical Society since 1979, is coming down for good on Tuesday June 12 and put away for what is described as a “much neeed rest.”

“The 1934 Lindbergh Monocoupe is an exceedingly rare aircraft in that it still retains its original fabric covering,” said Katherine Van Allen, managing director of museum services for the Missouri Historical Society, in a statement, “In order to ensure that this unique piece of history is preserved for future generations, the Missouri Historical Society is removing the plane to a humidity and climate-controlled storage facility in accordance with present-day best practices in collections care.”

 

According to the Missouri History Museum, which received the plane in 1940, Lindbergh flew this airplane regularly, but didn’t really love it.

And even though he’d had it personalized extensively, he wrote that “It is one of the most difficult planes to handle I have ever flown. The take-off is slow…and the landing tricky…[it] is almost everything an airplane ought not to be.”

Still, it is an aviation treasure. And one that could have been lost to history back in April 2011 when a tornado hit the airport, doing millions of dollars of damage. By luck, Lindergh’s monocoupe had been moved to a storage facility just a few weeks before, in preparation for scheduled terminal renovations.

Here’s a video of the plane being rehung in the airport in 2013:

­

 

 

When you visit STL,  you’ll still see an airplane suspended from the ceiling over a Terminal 2 checkpoint. That plane is also owned by the Missouri Historical Society, but it’s a 1933 Red Monocoupe 110 Special with no link to Lindbergh.

 

Smithsonian offers eye-level view of Spirit of St. Louis

Spirit of St. Louis Image by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Spirit of St. Louis Image by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

The “Spirit of St. Louis” – the plane in which a 26-year-old Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo transatlantic flight in May, 1927 – is one of the most popular artifacts at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

The plane is usually suspended from the gallery ceiling, but for the next five months the plane will be on the floor at eye level while it undergoes preservation work in preparation for an updated exhibition in the museum’s central space, also known as the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.

The last time the plane was lowered to the gallery floor was in 1992.

Spirit of St. Louis. Image by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Spirit of St. Louis. Image by Mark Avino, Smithsonian Institution

Fancy a flight to Paris? Charles Lindbergh did.

LINDBERGH_SpiritofStLouis

Spirit of St. Louis courtesy Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

So much chatter these days about amenities we want on long trip from say, New York to Paris, so let’s just take a moment today to tip our hats to Charles Lindbergh, who left New York for for Paris on the morning of May 20, 1927.

Thirty-three hours, 30 minutes, and 3,610 miles later he landed safely at Le Bourget Field, near Paris.

He was flying alone. So no one brought him a meal, a pillow a blanket or even a tiny bag of peanuts.

Read more about the plane and the flight here.

Lindbergh’s plane back at Lambert-St. Louis Int’l Airport

You may remember the tornado that hit Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in April, 2011, causing millions of dollars in damage.

The repair bill might have been much more had not Charles Lindbergh’s plane – a 1934 Model D-127 Monocoupe which had hung in Terminal 1 over the C Concourse checkpoint since 1979 – been moved to a storage hangar just a few weeks earlier in preparation for terminal renovations.

STL_LindberghMonocoupe

According to the Missouri History Museum, which received the plane in 1940, Lindbergh flew this airplane regularly, but didn’t really love it. And even though he’d had it personalized extensively, he wrote that “it is one of the most difficult planes to handle I have ever flown. The take-off is slow…and the landing tricky…[it] is almost everything an airplane ought not to be.”

During the 30 years the airplane had been suspended from the STL ceiling it gathered a great deal of dust and was subject to a great deal of stress. So while the monocoupe was in storage, the museum gave it a conservation make-over and on Sunday, October 20, 2013 returned the plane to its original spot in the airport.

The nine-hour installation process is documented in this time-lapse video.

Re-hang of the Lindbergh Monocoupe at Lambert International Airport from Missouri History Museum on Vimeo.

They didn’t call him Lucky Lindy for nothing

Talk about luck.

For more than 30 years Charles Lindbergh’s 1932 Monocoupe D-145 hovered over the Concourse C checkpoint at Lambert-St Louis International Airport (STL).

But just last month, to make way for the relocation of that checkpoint, the plane was lowered to the floor, removed from the airport and put in storage at Missouri’s Mount Vernon Municipal Airport.

According to the owner of the company that moved the plane, “Had it still been inside the St. Louis airport when the tornado blew through last Friday, the plane would have taken a direct hit.”

Lucky, right?

That’s what the folks at the Missouri Historical Society are probably thinking. The organization received the plane from Lindbergh back in 1940 and planned to have it restored and put on display at the Mount Vernon Airport while renovations were underway at Lambert.

The timeline for restoring and returning the plane to Lambert airport may be altered a bit by the aftermath of the tornado, but at least the plane is safe and still around.