In May of 1927, Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo flight across the ocean. The 3,500-mile trip from Long Island to Paris – made without radar or radio – took him thirty-three and a half hours. Later that year, on a flying tour of the United States, his seventieth stop was in Richmond. On October 15, ten thousand joyful spectators gathered at the city’s new airport to watch him play the wind and skillfully land his silver monoplane – The Spirit of St. Louis.
Once on the ground, Lindbergh formally dedicated the first building of Byrd Field, the new airport named after Richard Evelyn Byrd, the famous polar aviator and explorer from Virginia. After the dedication, Lindbergh’s motorcade traveled on Broad Street to visit the Governor’s Mansion. The pilot was also honored in a ceremony at the fairgrounds and attended a dinner at the Jefferson Hotel with 500 select guests.
During his visit, Lindbergh also found the time and space to fit Governor Harry Flood Byrd in his single-seater plane for a sightseeing flight. The next morning, at ten-thirty sharp, Lindbergh was back in his plane and back in the air, though not quite ready to say farewell. After executing a wingover turn, he circled the field, then took a long, fast dive back down to buzz the crowd and wave goodbye to the assembled, cheering Richmonders.