Lindbergh makes another emergency jump from a Robertson DH-4M on November 3, 1926


(photo: "The Spirit of St. Louis" by Charles A. Lindbergh)

He Does It Again
By Charles A. Lindbergh

( from AERONAUTIC REVIEW magazine November 1926 )

Pilot Lindbergh’s parachute jumps have become a monthly affair
In our October issue we published a report by Pilot Lindbergh of his parachute jump in the fog on the night of September 16th. On November 3rd Mr. Lindbergh was forced to make a second jump under almost identical circumstances and his account of this is, if possible, even more thrilling than the first one. The REVIEW editor is wondering whether or not to save a page for Mr. Lindbergh in every issue.

I took off from Lambert-St. Louis Field at 4:20p.m. November 3, arrived at Springfield, Ill. at 5:15, and after a five-minute stop for mail took the air again and headed for Peoria.

The ceiling at Springfield was about 500 feet, and the weather report from Peoria, which was telephoned to St. Louis earlier in the afternoon, gave the flying conditions as entirely passable.

I encountered darkness about 25 miles north of Springfield. The ceiling had lowered to around 500 feet and a light snow was falling. At South Pekin the forward visibility of ground lights from a 150-foot altitude was less than one-half mile, and over Pekin the town lights were indistinct from 200 feet above. After passing Pekin, I flew at an altimeter reading of 600 feet for about five minutes, when the lightness of the haze below indicated that I was over Peoria. Twice I could see lights on the ground and descended to less than 200 feet before they disappeared from view. I tried to bank around one group of lights, but was unable to turn quickly enough to keep them in sight.

Had to Turn Back
After circling in the vicinity of Peoria for 30 minutes, I decided to try to find better weather conditions by flying northeast towards Chicago. I had ferried a ship from Chicago to St. Louis in the early afternoon, and at that time the ceiling and visibility were much better near Chicago than elsewhere along the route.

Enough gasoline for about one hour and 10 minutes flying remained in the main tank and 20 minutes in the reserve. This was hardly enough to return to St. Louis even had I been able to navigate directly to the field by dead reckoning and flying blind the greater portion of the way. The only lights along our route at present are on the field at Peoria, consequently, unless I could pick up a beacon on the transcontinental route, my only alternative would be to drop the parachute flare and land by its light, together with what little assistance the wing lights would be in the snow and rain. The territory towards Chicago was much more favorable for a night landing than that around St. Louis.

Parachute Flare Fails
I flew northeast at about 2,000 feet for 30 minutes, then dropped down to 600 feet. There were numerous breaks in the clouds this time, and occasionally ground lights could be seen from over 500 feet. I passed over the lights of a small town and a few minutes later came to a fairly clear place in the clouds. I pulled up to about 600 feet, released the parachute flare, whipped the ship around to get into the wind and under the flare, which lit at once, but, instead of floating down slowly, dropped like a rock. For an instant I saw the ground, then total darkness. My ship was in a steep bank, and for a few seconds after being blinded by the intense light I had trouble righting it. I then tried to find the ground with the wing lights, but their glare was worse than useless in the haze.

When about 10 minutes' gas remained in the pressure tank and still I could not see the faintest outline of any object on the ground, I decided to leave the ship rather than attempt to land blindly. I turned back southwest towards less populated country and started climbing in an attempt to get over the clouds before jumping.

Tanks Go Dry
The main tank went dry at 7:51, and the reserve at 8:10. The altimeter then registered approximately 14,000 feet, yet the top of the clouds was apparently several thousand feet higher. I rolled the stabilizer back, cut the switches, pulled the ship up into a stall, and was about to go out over the right side of the cockpit when the right wing began to drop. In this position the plane would gather speed and spiral to the right, possibly striking my parachute after its first turn. I returned to the controls and, after righting the plane, dove over the left side of the cockpit while the airspeed registered about 70 miles per hour and the altimeter 13,000 feet.

I pulled the rip cord immediately after clearing the stabilizer. The Irving chute functioned perfectly. I had left the ship head first and was falling in this position when the risers whipped me around into an upright position and the chute opened.

The last I saw or heard of the D. H. was as it disappeared into the clouds just after my chute opened. I placed the rip cord in my pocket and took out my flashlight. It was snowing and very cold. For the first minute or so the parachute descended smoothly, then commenced an excessive oscillation which continued for about five minutes and which I was unable to check.

Lands on Barbed Wire Fence
The first indication that I was near the ground was a gradual darkening of the space below. The snow had turned to rain and, although my chute was thoroughly soaked, its oscillation had greatly decreased. I directed the beam from the 500-foot spotlight downward, but the ground appeared so suddenly that I landed directly on top of a barbed wire fence without seeing it.

The fence helped to break my fall and the barbs did not penetrate the heavy flying suit. The chute was blown over the fence and was held open for some time by the gusts of wind before collapsing. I rolled it up into its pack and started towards the nearest light. Soon I came to a road, which I followed about a mile to the town of Covell, Ill., where I telephoned a report to St. Louis and endeavored to obtain some news of where the ship had landed. The only information that I could obtain was from one of a group of farmers in the general store, a Mr. Thompson, who stated that his neighbor had heard the plane crash, but could only guess at its general direction.

I rode with Mr. Thompson to his farm and, after leaving the parachute in his house, we canvassed the neighbors for any information concerning the plane. After searching for over an hour without result, I left instructions to place a guard over the mail in case it was found before I returned and went to Chicago for another ship.

On arriving over Covell the next morning I found the wreck, with a small crowd gathered around it, less than 500 feet back of the house where I had left the parachute. The nose and wheels had struck the ground at about the same time, and after sliding along for about 75 feet it had piled up in a pasture beside a hedge fence. One wheel had come off and was standing inflated against the wall on the inside of a hog house a hundred yards farther on. It had gone through two fences and the wall of the house. The wings were badly splintered, but the tubular fuselage, though badly bent in places, had held its general form even in the mailpit. The parachute from the flare was hanging on the tailskid.

There were three sacks of mail in the plane. One, a full bag, from St. Louis, had been split open and some of the mail oil soaked, but legible. The other two were only partially full and were undamaged. I delivered the mail to Maywood by plane, to be dispatched on the next ships out.


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