One of the Worlds Most Famous Aviators Once Lived in Billings
Long before film and TV stars started "discovering" Montana, another soon-to-be famous individual once called Billings home. Charles Lindbergh, the world-renowned pilot who made the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, lived in Billings for a short time.
Five years before his famous flight, Lindbergh lived in Billings.
According to the aviation department at Rocky Mountain College, Lindbergh was employed in Billings "as an airplane mechanic and applicator of dope to the fabric wings of aircraft at the Billings Airport, located, even then, just above campus on the Rimrocks." An interesting side note: after WWII a biology professor at Rocky landed an F-4F Wildcat on the campus lawn, where it remained "for several years."
Another report from Treasure State Press says Lindbergh "worked as a mechanic, fixing car and airplane engines, at a garage owned by the Westover brothers, Bob and Edward."
Montanans got to witness Charles Lindbergh's stuntman skills.
RMC notes that Lindbergh performed as a barnstormer and aircraft stuntman. During one performance he reportedly freaked out the crowds gathered at the fairgrounds (now MetraPark) when he dropped a dummy from the airplane cockpit, making the crowd gasp with terror when they thought he had fallen from the open cockpit of the plane.
After his solo Atlantic flight, he returned to Montana a handful of times.
Historians note that after he flew solo (for 33 1/2 hours) from New York to Paris, Lindbergh visited Montana several times. Once for his 48-state celebration tour. Once in 1939, he visited Montana to help review the nation's air readiness as WWII was looming. And he quietly visited our state in the 60s after his sons purchased a ranch in the Greenough Valley, reports the Missoula Current.
After being diagnosed with cancer, Lindbergh lived out his final years in Hawaii where his body rests in a peaceful plot behind the Palapala Congregational Church in Maui. He died in 1974.
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Gallery Credit: Stacker