It was raining that early morning in New York, and the ground was soft. The airplane at the end of the runway seemed small. The young pilot sloshed through the water and mud, checked the craft and climbed aboard. He was tired, perhaps not as sharp as he might be had he been able to rest during the night. But he hadn’t. The motor was started at about 7:40 a.m. It had been warmed up for about twelve minutes while the pilot and ground crew checked things out. The little plane was heavily loaded, slow to gain speed on the mushy runway. A tractor blocked the end of the runway, along with telephone lines, a hill, and some trees. But the plane lifted off, cleared the tractor by fifteen feet, the lines by twenty and made it over the hill and trees. A Missouri National Guardsman named Lindbergh was on his way into the rising sun and into the history books, flying a plane financed by Missourians and named for a Missouri city.

AUDIO: AOWM May 20, 2005 (mp3)