Anne Morrow Lindbergh: First Lady fo the Air

When the name “Lindbergh” is mentioned most people immediately associate it with Charles Lindbergh, the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Most history books give cursory, if any, mention of his round-the-world flights made after the Atlantic crossing and rarely do they mention that his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, accompanied him. Those that do include mention of these trips give the impression that she was there for primarily for companionship. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Kathleen C. Winters shows us in her biography, “Anne Morrow Lindbergh: First Lady of the Air.”

Anne Lindbergh was an accomplished pilot and, just like her husband, prepared extensively for their expeditions. Together they flew their single-engine Lockheed Sirius around the world, exploring and conducting air surveys for potential air mail and airline routes. She was responsible for radio communications. She had to learn to operate a complex radio, as well as celestial navigation and Morse code. Frequently the media of the day discounted her contribution to the flights, trivializing her in their stories by mentioning her attire rather than her role.

Charles Lindbergh, who took a dim view of the intrusive media, is said to have stated that she was not “his wife” on the flights — she was crew.

Before meeting Charles, Anne displayed her talent as a writer. After their Pacific Rim trip she chronicled their exploits in her first book, “North to the Orient.” In 1933 they completed a five-and-a-half-month, 30,000-mile survey of North and South Atlantic air routes that became the subject of her book, “Listen! The Wind.”

The book also delves into the couple’s domestic life, particularly their strengths and weaknesses and how they balanced each other in their high-profile world. The book does not attempt to sidestep the more tragic aspects of their relationship, including the kidnapping and murder of their first child, as well as the controversy stirred up by the Lindberghs’ visits to Germany in the late 1930s.

“Anne Morrow Lindbergh, First Lady of the Air,” by Kathleen C. Winters, Palgrave Macmillan, 256 pages, including illustrations, $24.95.

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