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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Lindbergh Buzzes La Crosse

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh made history when he flew his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, across the Atlantic alone. After the flight, he made a grand cross-country tour, flying his plane to many cities where huge crowds greeted him.

On August 23, 1927, the citizens of La Crosse gathered outdoors to watch for a glimpse of Lindbergh's plane as he passed overhead on this tour. The time of his arrival was spread by the city's telephone operators, who greeted callers with "Lindbergh is expected over the city about 11:30" instead of their usual, "Number please."

While many people gathered on rooftops or in the streets, a sizeable group of about 300 assembled instead on Salzer Field in the hope that Lindbergh's celebrated luck might run out.

Their specific wish was that Lindbergh would discover he was out of fuel near La Crosse and, seeing the field, would decide to land. They were so optimistic that the Cities Service Company of La Crosse even had the town's gas truck filled and waiting.

As the world's most famous aviator approached, they were disappointed to see that, instead of landing, The Spirit of St. Louis merely dropped an orange-ribboned package onto a nearby office building and then disappeared into the northern skies.

The parcel turned out to be a letter addressed to the citizens of La Crosse by Lindbergh, thanking them for their support of aeronautics. It created quite a stir, and was passed from hand to hand and read out loud among the excited crowd. Presumably, though, some of the 300 hopeful in Salzer Field were not entirely satisfied.

You can view pictures of Lindbergh at Wisconsin Historical Images, where you'll also find a wonderful gallery with hundreds of early aviation photos, "Sky High."

:: Posted in Curiosities on August 5, 2010

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