The Lone Eagle was lost – again.
It was the afternoon of July 25, 1927, and Charles A. Lindbergh was in the air somewhere over Concord. On his history-making flight from New York to Paris in May of 1927, some mariners say they saw his Spirit of St. Louis overhead and tooted out the latitude and longitude on the ship’s whistle. Lindbergh himself says he flew down over the Irish Sea to ask a boat full of fishermen, “Which way to Ireland?” On this particular July afternoon, fog and bad weather prevented Lindbergh from making his scheduled landing at Portland, Maine. So Lindbergh headed west until he spotted a grassy field that turned out to be White Park in Concord. Two boys were playing baseball. The revolutions of the Spirit’s nine-cyclinder engine were throttled back to reduce noise, and the plane swooped lower. Lindbergh hollered, “Which way to the airport?” The boys pointed toward the east, and sprinted for their bicycles.
They reached Concord Airport just as the Spirit of St. Louis was being pushed into the hangar. Lindbergh had already left for a hotel in Concord.
One of the boys was Bob Hilliard, who grew up to become a sports writer for the Manchester Union Leader. The other, J. Wayne Ferns, became a founding father of Concord aviation – and always cited Lindbergh’s visit as the event that got him started.
This excerpt written by Jack W. Ferns appears in the chapter titled “New Hampshire’s First Airport” in the Concord Historical Society’s “Crosscurrents of Change: Concord, N.H., in the 20th Century.” Writer Jack Ferns is the son of J. Wayne Ferns, who is mentioned in the excerpt.