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Analysis from The Spirit of St. Louis to the SST (about Charles Lindbergh)

Reich, L. S. ‘From The Spirit of St. Louis To The SST: Charles Lindbergh, Technology, And Environment’. Technology and Culture 36.2 (1995): 351-393.

Right from his early boyhood days, Charles Lindbergh featured the capability to incorporate nature, technology as well as ethical values. That is, he exhibited and experienced the equal allure of both science and nature. He was fond of his Minnesota hometown woods while at the same time loving the influence of the technology especially regarding the fact that he lived close to a sawmill and a huge dam. Moreover, his mother was a chemistry teacher who gave young Lindbergh access to scientific knowledge. His grandfather was a dental technology leader in Detroit where Lindbergh visited and fancied upon the chemical experiments taking place in the laboratory.

At the age of 10, he made an ingenious slide and pulley system that could move ice blocks to his home from the river. At age 11, he could perfectly drive and maintain his family’s car. As a teenager, he experimented on various technological advancements. He installed an open well in his home’s basement, experimented with constructions using concrete. Ideally, his early experience as a technological enthusiast and technician helps in highlighting the fact that he believed that technology and nature were closely related. In the course of his life, he interchangeably used the words technology and science interchangeably, further underlying his belief mentioned above.

By taking his epic 1927 flight, he illustrated how he always integrated values and technology. As documented, he took off in the muddy Roosevelt Field in the rain, flew through the fog, and other forms of flight difficulties to successfully land in Bourget Field over 33 hours later. The most basic aspect that helped Lindbergh venture into such a mission was the realization of the impact it would have on the confidence of the public. He contributed to almost every phase of the designing and engineering of the Spirit of St. Louis making the aircraft entirely a huge achievement with respect to technical design. Ideally, the success of Lindbergh’s 1927 flight found its basis in this daring personality, vision, skills, as well as his individual himself (Reich 351-393).

After 1927, Lindbergh continued with more technological projects. His combined commercial aviation, surgical medicine, as well as rocket propulsion. In 1929, for example, he carried out investigations concerning the application of jet propulsion as a booster in case an airplane lost power during flight. In a completely different field, he pursued surgery on human beings. In 1930, he learned that it was impossible to perform surgery on the heart or any other major human organ at that time due to the absence of an artificial pump that would help in circulating blood. Moreover, he came up with several discoveries in the above field including on how to separate quickly serum from the blood through the use of a centrifuge, as well as the medically famous glass perfusion pump. Importantly, Charles Lindbergh brought together a combination of concerns for the human beings in general with his individual vision and technological enthusiasm always staying at the edge of bringing up constructive change.

Lindbergh’s consistency with respect to the view of the world extended all through the World War II era. His opinion on the war was for the United States to keep off the conflict of the European nations.  His rationale for the above found its basis in the fact that going to war would make the Unites States destroy the Western Civilization heritage, resulting in the dominance of the Soviet Union. With respect to his technical knowledge, he was aware of the fact that all the countries that engaged in air war would end up in devastation after the war was over. However, his advice was taken for granted, and the United States joined in the European conflict. Although he stood against the above decision, he volunteered his invaluable services to his country once it became inevitable although doing so as a civilian aviator.

In the year 1955, Lindbergh’s life experienced a defining moment. His wife, Anne M. Lindbergh wrote a book Gift from the Sea, in which she described a life that contrasted with Lindbergh’s. She wrote, “The curtain of mechanization coming down between the mind and the hand” (Lienhard 1). According to him, that was a direct criticism of his personal life since it described how he had spent his life pushing the airplane beyond its human users. From the above moment, Lindbergh’s visibility reduced. He started working quietly but intensely on the implementation of sane environmental policies. He campaigned for the establishment of the Congressional Office of Technological Assessment. Until his last years in his life, he fought for the survival of the Tesaday tribe in the Philippines. In the foreword to a certain book he contributed in the year 1974, he reckoned that the environment was under exponential breakdown as a result of various aspects, aviation standing out as a key aspect of that breakdown (Reich 351-393). Being a key player in the development of aviation, he felt responsible for taking the most appropriate measures of combating the above environmental breakdown.

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