Neil Armstrong and other influential members of the Lindbergh Foundation.
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St Louis from New York to Paris non-stop, defining exploration for the 20th century. Following Lindbergh's death, his family and some of the greatest explorers of all time formed the Lindbergh Foundation to carry on the spirit of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh by providing grants to promote projects that fostered new and environmentally friendly technology. Over the past 35 years, the foundation has provided seed money to numerous projects that balance nature and technology. The Lindbergh Foundation is also responsible for organizations such as the Aviation Green Alliance, the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) and the Electric Aircraft Development Alliance (EADA).
This spring, the Lindbergh Foundation celebrated the 85th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's landmark flight across the Atlantic and the 35th anniversary of the Lindbergh Foundation. Among the guests at New York City's Explorers Club were Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, and founding board member of the Lindbergh Foundation Gene Cernan, last man on the moon, and Jim Lovell, first man to orbit the moon, also a founding board member. Also attending were Reeve Lindbergh, the daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and her nephew Erik Lindbergh. The evening was a unique insight into the history of the Lindbergh foundation from those who have been involved since the beginning.
Reeve Lindbergh recounted how the foundation was formed 35 years earlier in a room just a few floors above where she was speaking by a board composed of herself, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and numerous other well-known individuals of the 20th century. The board agreed to offer $10,580 in grants to projects that promoted conservation through technology. The amount of $10,580 was the cost of the Spirit of St. Louis.
Reeve Lindbergh tells of her father's passion for balancing technology and the environment.
Gene Cernan was the recipient of the 2000 Lindbergh trophy and spoke of how Charles Lindbergh inspired him as a child to pursue his dreams. "The technology behind the Spirit of St. Louis and Apollo has long been obsolete, but the spirit of Lindbergh, just like the spirit of Apollo, is what has a lasting influence on all of us that have an opportunity to walk in his footsteps," said Cernan. To put this in context, Lindbergh's steps that Cernan followed led him to leave the last footprints on the moon.
Jim Lovell, Commander on Apollo VIII and XIII, and founding board member, stated that the most memorable lunch of his life was with Charles Lindbergh the day before the Apollo VIII launch, the first to enter lunar orbit. "He was the old pro. He'd been there and done that. We were the rookies. We hadn't been there and we hadn't done that," said Lovell.
Neil Armstrong, who really needs no introduction, spoke of the formation of the Lindbergh Foundation. Recounting the alliances formed between some of the most influential people of the time, Armstrong spoke of the challenges and struggles the foundation faced in its infancy, and how numerous influential people worked diligently to make the Lindbergh Foundation a reality. "In spite of its challenging infancy, the foundation has grown and enjoyed substantial success in reaching its goal in its 35-year history, and I think the next 35 will be even better," said Armstrong.
Chip Yates is planning to replicate Charles Lindbergh's 1927 New York-to-Paris flight in the world's most powerful electric aircraft—a 258 hp Long EZ with all kinds of innovative systems, including a Kinetic Energy Recovery System. Yates will make world-record attempts for fastest speed and highest altitude for manned all-electric airplanes.
Since the Lindbergh Foundation was formed in 1977, numerous noteworthy individuals have served tirelessly to further the causes the organization supports. Bob Hoover, Sean Tucker and Patty Wagstaff, all Hall of Fame air-show pilots, John and Martha King of Kings Schools, and Larry Williams, CEO of BRS Parachutes, have served on the board. To date, the foundation has granted over three million dollars to some 300 men and women in support of their work.
LEAP, EADA And The Aviation Green Alliance
During a post-event interview, Erik Lindbergh spoke about his desire for advancing technology and preserving the environment, and how he's continuing the legacy his grandfather started through the foundation. Erik's passion for electric flight has spawned the founding of the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP), and the Electric Aircraft Development Alliance (EADA).
Erik founded LEAP with the goal of advancing electric flight through prize philanthropy. LEAP presents awards biannually at Aero- Friedrichshafen and EAA AirVenture. To date, they've presented nine awards in categories such as best electric airplane, best propulsion system and an outstanding achievement award.
Through his involvement in electric flight, Erik recognized a need for an industry alliance and founded Electric Aircraft Development Alliance (EADA). The mission of EADA is to provide an industry voice that advocates and educates regulatory bodies worldwide. Since its founding, EADA has merged with the Lindbergh Foundation and the Aviation Green Alliance.
Erik contends that the barriers today are energy and regulations governing the use of that energy: "It is EADA's job to identify the biggest threats to the industry and proactively solve the issues." Recently, EADA helped the industry by lobbying to prevent proposed ITAR restrictions on 28-volt batteries that would have been crippling to the advancement of electric flight.
Volo was awarded the Lindbergh Prize for innovation at Aero-Friedrichshafen this April for their pioneering flight in the VC1, an electric multi-rotor vertical-takeoff and -landing aircraft. The ascending force, as well as the stability in the air, come from its 16 propellers. With its four arms, it measures approximately 17x17 feet and has an empty weight of around 80 kg including the batteries.
Erik cited the success of companies like e-volo and the giant strides forward that have been made in just the past few years. He envisions a "Jetsons-like future flying quietly out of our backyards, revolutionizing the way we move around the planet."
The Aviation Green Alliance, part of the Lindbergh Foundation, is a forum for everyone to come together and share ideas and issues within the industry. The Alliance helps set and influence policies related to environmental standards that impact the aviation industry. It isn't limited to large manufacturers and donors—anyone can join the organization, with membership levels starting at $55 annually.
Larry Williams, Lindbergh Foundation CEO, said that one of the main goals going forward is to tell the general public about the strides the aviation industry as a whole has taken to protect our environment: "The Lindbergh Foundation can speak in a secular way about the aviation industry as a whole."
He stated that most manufacturers have environmentally friendly production facilities, environmental statements and the works. But the aviation industry is rarely recognized for this, in large part, because no one talks about it.
The Lindbergh Prize for Quietest Aircraft was awarded to e-Genius at NASA Ames as part of the NASA Green Flight Challenge in November 2011.
Williams also emphasized that the Foundation provides ways for everyone to get involved and participate in the advancement of technology while preserving our environment. Thirty-five years ago, when the Lindbergh Foundation was formed, the most common aircraft was the Boeing 707 or Douglas DC-8. When compared to today's Boeing 787, we've achieved a 40% reduction in fuel burn, along with drastic reductions in noise, manufacturing practices and the like. Without a doubt, the inspiration that Charles Lindbergh provided played a key role in these advancements.
The legacy of Lindbergh is still vibrant and evident in the recent announcement by Chip Yates and his company, Flight of the Century. It seems that Charles Lindbergh created the holy grail of flight achievement—a benchmark that must be met to legitimize a new technology—and Yates is attempting to fly nonstop from New York to Paris in an electric aircraft. Stay posted at www.flightofthecentury.com, and visit www.lindberghfoundation.org for more information on the Lindbergh Foundation.