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The Lindbergh Story By John Dirks

Prop from CAL's DH-4 at Low Point, IL forced landing, April 1926

October of 1926...

Many years ago, I would say probably in October of 1926, we lived right on the airmail route that went from St. Louis to Springfield and then to Chicago. One evening while doing my chores on the farm, we saw an airplane come down. The first thing we did was we went to the plane to see what happened. Well the plane came down of course and the only thing we knew that happened was he just came down.

We didnít know who this man was

The first thing the man asked us was if we could take his mail to Springfield. Well, first we did that and then that evening he came back with us and he stayed all night with us. Of course we didnít know who this man was. We knew he was a navigator pilot, probably airmail. He stayed all night with us and the next morning we had to call him for breakfast. He came down, had breakfast and we had a nice visit. He decided well maybe we better go see if I can get the plane started. We went to the plane and there he worked on the engine not very long, a very few minutes. He said well I think it will go now. He tried to start it and of course at that time planes didnít have an electrical starter or anything like that, they had to start it with a propeller. So he worked with it for quite a while. Of course he had to set the propeller at a certain position and then he would go back around to the cockpit and be sure that the ignition was off and he would set the choke on and then he would go around and turn his propeller several rounds to get it to the right position and then he would walk clear around the wing and give the propeller one pull and either it would start okay or if not he would have to go through the whole procedure again. After so long a time of that, he told me come over here, you get in this plane and I will tell you what to do.

John Dirk (left) and Rowl Hall (right). Table is from Dirk's home in Athens, IL. CAL sat here for supper and breakfast on Sept 30 and Oct 1, 1926.
I wasnít too keen going, I wasnít more than a youngster, but they will try anything. So I crawled into the plane and he told me what to do. He said I will set this throttle on the side here so it wonít run too fast. Well that sounded awful good to me. After a while I had all the controls, turned the ignition on, controlled the choker and everything and finally he got the thing started and about the first or second cough that engine made I started out of the plane because I didnít know what could happen.

None other than Charles Lindbergh

We came to find out this man was none other than Charles Lindbergh. At the time he was an airmail pilot, and then the following May is when he made his flight to Paris. Of course then he did fly the mail again a few times and I never will forget that every time he would fly over he would dip the wing and wave even after he made that historic flight to Paris. He was a very common individual.

John Dirks

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