Charles Lindbergh Flight over the Atlantic Ocean

The story of Charles Lindbergh historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean provides an ideal platform for interdisciplinary learning: social studies(history, psychology), science (geography, aerodynamics) and math(navigation).

The story of Charles Lindbergh historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean provides an ideal platform for interdisciplinary learning: social studies(history, psychology), science (geography, aerodynamics) and math (navigation).

1.Social Studies 

Read Charles Lindbergh’s biography and point to his successful pursuit of a dream. He was the first man to fly solo aver the Atlantic Ocean and he had to carefully consider the risks involved. The following note written by Lindbergh about his plan to jump with a parachute describes very well his mentality: 
“The thought of crawling out onto the struts and wires hundreds of feet above the earth, and then giving up even that tenuous hold of safety and of substance, left me a feeling of anticipation mixed with dread, of confidence restrained by caution, of courage salted through with fear. How tightly should one hold onto life? How loosely give it rein? What gain was there for such a risk? I would have to pay in money for hurling my body into space. There would be no crowd to watch and applaud my landing. Nor was there any scientific objective to be gained. No, there was deeper reason for wanting to jump, a desire I could not explain. It was that quality that led me into aviation in the first place — it was a love of the air and sky and flying, the lure of adventure, the appreciation of beauty. It lay beyond the descriptive words of man-where immortality is touched through danger, where life meets death on equal plane, where man is more than man, and existence both supreme and valueless at the same instant.” 


2.1 Geography 
Recreate Charles Lindbergh historical flight across the Atlantic Ocean and map his itinerary from the departure, across the Atlantic Ocean and to the destination point, Paris, France.

Start with the take of from Roosevelt Fields (Long Island, NY) and follow close his itinerary. You can expand the project in learning more about the different locations mentioned in the flight journal. After you collect all data, use Google Earth for a Charles Lindbergh virtual flight.

2.2 Atmosphere 
Learn about earth’s atmosphere and its influence over the aircraft performance. For example, Lindbergh had to constantly monitor the air temperature and pressure to determine the “density altitude”. This figure is critical to the performance of an aircraft because the density of the air directly influences LIFT and DRAG.

Lindbergh’s aircraft had no pressurized cabin and this also limited the flight altitude to around 17,000 feet above the sea level. He also encountered adverse weather conditions during this long solo flight. Talk about condensation and the problems this phenomenon posed to the aircraft.

Compare the atmosphere with the ocean and talk about their similarities (high pressure at the bottom) regarding the flight dynamics. Observe the airfoil shape in the design of different ships. 

2.3 Aerodynamics 
Define the four fundamental forces involved in flight (lift, thrust, drag and weight) and talk about the different theories explaining the creation of LIFT (Newton, Bernoulli, Prandl, Coanda). 


Use the flight data to build a time/altitude and time/location graph.

Discuss the navigation instruments used during the flight. Lindbergh used the “dead reckoning “ method to fly over 16 hours over Atlantic; he was able to know his position with the aid of his eyes, his compass, an accurate clock and an ordinary ground map of the land areas he had to fly over. Also, Lindbergh had to consider the wind direction, wind velocity and airspeed to determine the flight course. Observe the corrections he had to make due to the crossing different time zones. This is also a good moment to talk about celestial navigation. 

For more information regarding the navigation methods used by Charles Lindbergh during his long flight over the Atlantic ocean check this page.


Charles A.Lindbergh : An American Aviator 

Return from Charles Lindbergh to Aviation for Kids

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