February 1930 — Aviator Charles Lindbergh (third from right) and pioneer aircraft builder Hawley Bowlus (fourth from right) join newsreel and print media photographers for a little party at the restaurant inside the Lebec Hotel after a day of glider flying near the Ridge Route. Aviators on the right, press men on the left.
Original 1930 print, sourced to the estate of Harold D. "Hal" Jensen, a photographer for the Los Angeles Examiner. According to the photo vendor (2017), Jensen is seated second from left. (Originally 11x14 inches, the print was damaged at the corners and trimmed by the photo vendor to 9½x13½ inches.)
Lindberg, Bowlus and their crews arrived at Lebec on Feb. 1, 1930, and spent several days camping in the area while they tested one of Bowlus' newest experimental gliders. Lindberg had become the ninth person to qualify for a U.S. glider pilot's license two weeks earlier when he flew a Bowlus glider out over the Pacific Ocean from San Diego, where Bowlus' manufacturing plant was located.
Lindbergh's new bride, Anne Morrow Lindbergh (m. May 27, 1929), participated in the glider flights in San Diego and Lebec, becoming the first woman to qualify for a U.S. glider pilot's license on Jan. 29, 1930, just prior to her arrival at Lebec.
According to the photo vendor, the seated woman is Mrs. Lindbergh, but we aren't sure. This woman's facial features do not seem to match known photos of Mrs. Lindbergh, and there was at least one other woman among the glider crew at Lebec. Perhaps Mrs. Lindbergh is the photographer.
William Hawley Bowlus (1896-1967) had been the factory manager at the Ryan Airlines plant in San Diego when he supervised construction of the Spirit of St. Louis, which Lindbergh flew into the history books in 1927. Founder T. Claude Ryan had sold his company by that time, and the new owner moved it to St. Louis in 1928 or 1929. Bowlus stayed in San Diego and turned his attention to "sailplanes" (gliders), which he built under his own name (initially Bowlus Sailplane Co. Ltd.).
Lindbergh caught onto the budding glider craze and strictly flew Bowlus models, which were usually named Albatross. It was Bowlus' 18th model that Lindbergh first flew in San Diego on Jan. 20, 1930.
To say "experimental" glider is a redundancy; all gliders were experimental then, and the gliders Lindbergh and Bowlus flew at Lebec were no exceptions. On Feb. 3, Bowlus took up his latest Albatross twice — it was launched by bungee (shock) cord — and then it was Lindbergh's turn. While the world-famous aviator was in flight, one of the glider's two ailerons (horizonal flaps) fell off, to the horror of onlookers. Lindbergh managed to land the craft with just one aileron. Bowlus ordered up another Albatross from San Diego, and they continued their experiments.
Apparently some of the news photographers had arrived just in time to witness the mishap. (If you know of newsreel footage, please tell us.) According to CharlesLindbergh.com:
Although they had tried to discretely escape the press and have a little fun, Bowlus, Lindbergh and crew had made the mistake of stopping in a "Grapevine" area café for breakfast. Someone at the café recognized Lindbergh and alerted the press. It did not take long for dozens of reporters to find the glider pilots' encampment. When the aileron separated from the glider, the witnessing reporters rushed to the nearest telephone to report that Lindbergh had crashed.
When Bowlus and others reached his "crash" site, they found that Lindbergh had disassembled the glider and was nonchalantly waiting for a ride.
"I didn't have a bit of trouble in landing," Lindbergh told a reporter. "It wasn't especially hard to do."
Click to enlarge.
Lindy Pilots Coast Glider.
Mrs. Lindbergh Sees Mate Sour Out Over Ocean In Craft.
The Associated Press | As published in the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner | January 20, 1930.
San Diego, Calif., Jan. 20 — (AP) — Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, who flew from New York to Paris, today qualified as the ninth pilot in the United States to hold a glider license.
Colonel Lindbergh flew here from Los Angeles yesterday especially to take his first flight in a motorless plane.
Hawley Bowlys [sic], construction superintendent of the "Spirit of St. Louis," in which Colonel Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic ocean, had built the glider and made preparations for the flight. Bowlus holds the American glider record of more than six hours sustained flight.
Colonel Lindbergh had never flown a glider before. He entered the cockpit of the motorless plane, and with Mrs. Lindbergh watching, was catapulted into the air.
The glider climbed swiftly to an altitude of 500 feet. Colonel Lindbergh then headed the motorless plane out over the ocean for half a mile.
For thirty minutes Colonel Lindbergh remained in the air and then brought the glider gracefully to earth. He immediately filed an application for a first class glider license and will become the ninth pilot to hold such a paper.
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Bowlus to Try for New Mark.
The Associated Press | As published in The Los Angeles Times | February 2, 1930.
San Diego, Feb. 1 (AP) — In an effort to establish a new world's record for glider flights, Hawley Bowlus, San Diego glider expert, will take off from a point near Lebec, on top or the Ridge Route, at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning in one of his San Diego-built sailplanes.
Bowlus, it was learned tonight, is to meet Col. Charles A. Lindbergh early today at Lebec and prepare for the flight. Bowlus, carrying the sailplane on a specially built trailer, left San Diego at 5:30 o'clock this afternoon for the spot where the motorless flight is to be attempted.
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Lindy Astonishes Newsreel, Press Men.
United Press | As published in the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner | February 3, 1930.
Sandberg, Calif., Feb. 3 — (UP) — Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh, holding a brand new first class glider's license, was here today with Harvey [sic] Bowlus, holder of the national record for sustained flight in a motorless plane, to experiment with that type of aircraft.
The flying colonel and Bowlus, under whose supervision Lindbergh won his gliding license recently, established a camp near Sandberg Inn yesterday as a base for their test flights with the latter's glider.
Lindbergh astonished newspaper and news reel men yesterday by dropping, in his enthusiasm over a new field of flying endeavor, the taciturnity which had marked his contacts with the press during the past months. He actually told the men his plans.
Webmaster's Note: Sandberg was a common descriptor for that part of the Ridge Route. We can't rule out the possibility, however remote, that since the handwritten inscription
on the back of the photograph is wrong about other things, this might actually be the Sandberg Inn and not the Lebec Hotel, as it states. (For example, the inscription says this was 1933, but
the Lindberghs were not flying gliders or entertaining news reporters after their baby was kidnapped and murdered in 1932.)
Click to enlarge.
Undaunted By Minor Mishap Lindbergh Spends His 28th Birthday on Flying Plans.
United Press | As published in the (Bridgewater, N.J.) Courier-News | Tuesday, February 4, 1930.
Los Angeles, Feb. 4 (U.P.) — Col. Charles A. Lindbergh was 28 years old today, but instead of celebrating the event he was making plans for future glider flights such as the one interrupted yesterday when an aileron dropped from the wing of his motorless craft.
There was nothing to mark the day as his 28th birthday, his first as a married man. Neither he nor his wife, Anne, made any reference to the event in advance and his host and hostess, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Maddux, learned of it only through newspapers.
Colonel Lindbergh laughingly told the United Press that he wasn't worried for a minute when the aileron dropped from the glider as he soared away from a camp in the Tehachapi Mountains, near Sandberg.
"I didn't have a bit of trouble in landing," he said. "It wasn't especially hard to do.
"The ailerons on a glider are on the tips of the wings instead of at the back and they are not fastened together. For that reason when one of them drops off the other remains to help land the plane."
Lindbergh seemed more interested in glider experiments which he has been conducting with Hawley Bowlus, owner of the craft, than in the fact that it was 28 years ago today that he was born in Detroit, Mich.
"We want to learn how a glider will handle in high altitudes and variable air currents encountered in the Sandberg region," he said. "I'm going back there as soon as the glider is repaired, probably about Wednesday.
"Crystallization of the dural tubing caused the aileron to fall off," it was explained.
The mishap occurred after Bowlus had made two flights in the glider. Lindbergh went up for the first time during the day. He took his place in the craft and it was hurled into the air by shock cords.
He circled about and suddenly the aileron dropped. Watchers on the ground became panic-stricken. Calls were sent for aid. Then the glider disappeared over a nearby hill.
A truck with a trailer roared away toward the spot where Lindbergh disappeared. Newspapermen sped after it in other cars. The frenzied search ended when the smiling air ace was found standing beside the virtually undamaged glider.
It was loaded upon a truck and returned to the camp Lindbergh and Bowlus had established five miles from the Sandberg Inn.
Late last night Lindbergh said he had made no plans for a birthday celebration. Neither had his hold and hostess.
"Lindbergh never told me about his birthday," said Maddux, president of the T.A.T.-Maddux airlines of which Lindbergh is technical advisor. "He doesn't say much about anything. He goes and comes as he pleases and when I get up in the morning he is more than likely gone for a flight or an automobile trip. I don't even know where he is today."
"It's all news to me," said Mrs. Maddux when asked about birthday celebration plans for Lindbergh. "The colonel never mentioned it around the house and nothing has been planned."
LW3024: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2017 by Leon Worden.