We will be exploring Mississippi’s rich aviation history in this series. From early flight photographs to the moon landing and beyond, MDAH collections document this exciting part of our past.
In May 1927, Charles Lindbergh became an instant celebrity when he completed the first solo transatlantic flight. He then embarked on a tour of the United States to promote commercial aviation, which was still in its infancy at that time. Lindbergh arrived in Jackson, one of the tour stops, on October 7, 1927. One eyewitness described the landing at Davis Field (now Hawkins Field):
It was a pleasant, mild October afternoon. The Spirit of St. Louis came in from the west, passed the reviewing stand at a a few hundred feet, then pulled up sharply. The first wing dropped and the plane did a half-roll, then, having reversed course, glided, landed and rolled to a stop in front of the stands. It should be noted that the plane had no brakes. I knew enough about flying to recognize that Lindbergh had executed an Immelmann Turn, one of the most demanding of all flight acrobatics, one for which the Spirit of St. Louis was about as well-suited as a Model T Ford for barrel-jumping.1
It should also be noted that there were no front-facing windows on the Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh had to turn to the side in order to see ahead of him!
Lindbergh rode on the backseat of car for a parade down Capitol Street and spoke to the crowd from the steps of the New Capitol. A banquet was given in his honor by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce that evening. The banquet program is pictured above. It was “Lindbergh Day” and his visit sparked aviation fever in Jackson and helped spur the city to construct the state’s first municipal airport at Hawkins Field in 1928.
1 William Ewing, “The day Lindy flew to Jackson,” Clarion-Ledger, October 7, 1988. From “Lindbergh, Charles Augustus 1902-1974″ subject file, MDAH.