Following his historic trans-Atlantic flight in May of 1927, Charles Lindbergh made a three-month goodwill tour of the United States to promote aviation. Sponsored by Long Islander Harry Guggenheim, the trip took America’s newest hero and his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, to all of the then forty-eight states. Lindbergh made 92 stops, gave 147 speeches, and rode in parades covering more than 1.200 miles.
Everywhere he went, he was given an enthusiastic welcome. The photograph above depicts Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis during a brief stop in Omaha on August 30, 1927, proclaimed “Lindbergh Day” by the city. Nebraska governor Adam McMullen, Omaha mayor Jim Dahlman, the Seventeenth Infantry Band, the Boy Scouts, several friends from his early flying days at Lincoln, and a crowd estimated at more than 250,000 welcomed Lindbergh to Omaha.
“Omaha has known street crowds in the past, and has accorded notable welcomes, such as those attending the coming of a Wilson or a Roosevelt, to illustrate but never was there such a crowd or such a welcome as when Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh came here Tuesday,” said the Omaha World-Herald the next day. Businesses were closed in honor of the event. Lindbergh was escorted by a parade of cars from Omaha’s Municipal Airfield to the Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack, where addresses of welcome were made. He was then taken to the Fontenelle Hotel.
In response to Lindbergh’s request, all entertainment ceased at eight p.m. so that he would be well rested for his departure for Denver the next day. Despite the attention paid him, he had a strict schedule to keep. He did fly over several other Nebraska cities enroute, including Kearney, where he honored an advance commitment to circle the Buffalo County fairgrounds on his way west from Omaha.
For more information on early Nebraska aviation, see Vince Goeres’s Wings Over Nebraska: Historic Aviation Photographs, available at the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Landmark Stores. Published by NSHS Books in 2010, it was written with Kylie Kinley and features an introduction by Roger Welsch and more than two hundred photographs from NSHS collections. – Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor / Publications