So, why did Lindbergh win the battle and the Orteig prize of $25,000? Jackson writes that Lindbergh was not to be rushed. His Ryan aircraft, with its Wright engine was reliable for the day. There was no excess weight. A periscope enabled forward vision. He sat on a wicker seat to save weight. There was no radio, as they were heavy and unreliable. In the mid-Atlantic what benefit would a radio be anyway? He planned his trip carefully, in 100-mile segments of the Great Circle Route. His biggest enemy was fatigue, due to lack of rest prior to the flight. There was no one to talk to, to pour cold water on his head, to pilot while he rested, even for a few minutes.
Jackson's book is well written, and the notes are helpful, as is a glossary for those not familiar with piloting terms.
When I was 12 in 1947, I saw the Spirit of Saint Louis, suspended above me in the Smithsonian Institution. I was in awe. Even more so, I was astounded to see the Wright Flyer above me. Just a decade from that time, transatlantic jet service was begun by the British Overseas Airway Corp. in the ill-fated Comet.
Joe Jackson presents his theme in the form of a question from an ancient prophet: Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? (Isaiah 60:8) .
Posey, a retired minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA), lives in Charleston.