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Old 02-20-2015, 04:47 PM   #20
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Posted: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 12:00 am
Tom Wilk
In a seemingly commonplace scene, a small plane circled in the air over Atlantc City’s Bader Field and prepared to land on Oct. 19, 1927.
On the ground, the scene was anything but ordinary as a sense of excitement grew. A crowd of about 5,000 craned their necks skyward for the arrival of a national hero: Col. Charles A. Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis.
Five months earlier, Lindbergh had made aviation history with the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, traveling from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, N.Y., to Le Bourget airport in Paris. He flew 3,610 miles in 33 hours and 30 minutes.
If that flight were a sprint, Lindbergh was now involved in a marathon. The 25-year-old aviator and his airplane were wrapping up a three-month tour that would take him to all 48 states in the union.
Lindbergh would visit 92 cities, deliver 147 speeches and ride an estimated 1,290 miles in parades between July 20 and Oct. 23, 1927.
In Atlantic City, Lindbergh maneuvered his plane to a perfect landing on the rain-soaked airfield after a two-hour flight from Baltimore.
After his solitary flight over the Atlantic, Lindbergh had plenty of company at Bader Field, including Atlantic City Mayor Anthony Ruffu, Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, treasurer of Atlantic County and Republican Party boss, and a contingent of students from Atlantic City schools.
An amplification system was set up at the airport to allow Lindbergh’s remarks to be heard by all in attendance. The national tour was designed to promote the importance of aviation in the United States.
“As airports are established, we need your cooperation in backing air activities, which they would bring,” Lindbergh said.
In a separate interview, he offered praise for Bader Field: “The Atlantic City airport has good possibilities, and is in an ideal location to the city proper,” Lindbergh said. “In fact, it is the best situated in that respect, I think, than any I have yet encountered.”
While a contingent of Atlantic City police officers stood guard over the Spirit of St. Louis, protecting it from anyone seeking a souvenir from the historic plane, Lindbergh left Bader Field in the mayor’s car and headed to the Ritz Carlton Hotel at Iowa Avenue and the Boardwalk for his two-night stay in the city.
His first order of business was a meal as Lindbergh ordered oyster stew, lamb chops and a club sandwich from room service at the hotel. It was a culinary upgrade from the sandwiches and canteen water that sustained him on his flight to Europe.
Lindbergh, who recalled visiting Atlantic City as a boy, stayed primarily in his hotel room. He did venture out to make a few purchases at Boardwalk shops while enjoying the salt air. Many of the bellhops at the hotel proudly displayed autographed photographs of the aviator.
After his arrival at Bader Field, Lindbergh’s next public appearance was a testimonial dinner at the Chelsea Hotel. About 900 people packed the assembly hall for what was the social event of the season.
A specially designed menu featured a photograph of the Spirit of St. Louis on the cover. He referred to himself and the plane as “We,” which served as the title of his book about his flight.
Ruffu and Rep. Isaac Bacharach served as the event’s opening speakers. “I see in Col. Lindbergh the type of American youth of today in whom I have great confidence,” the congressman said.
Lindbergh, who received a mayoral proclamation, was then introduced and received a standing ovation of several minutes before he could speak.
Lindbergh again returned to the theme of his tour — aviation.
“We do not know the exact future of aviation, all we know is that is in a rapidly developing stage and is on the way to becoming one of the chief industries,” he said.
The truth of his words would be fulfilled in the coming decades as flying became a regular occurrence, narrowing the distance between nations.
On Oct. 21, Lindbergh prepared to leave Atlantic City to conclude his national tour before his final stop at Long Island, N.Y.
Lindbergh’s future was unwritten as he spoke to reporters in an informal interview at his hotel as he contemplated the end of the tour.
“For the first time in a long while, I’ll be out of a job. I have made absolutely no plans for the future.”
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