The Man Who Wasn't Charles Lindbergh

His Name Was Charles Levine

June 19, 2016

You've heard of Charles A. Lindbergh, the first pilot to cross the Atlantic. But what about Charles A. Levine?  The two men shared more than the same initials. In 1927, they were locked in a battle to make aviation history.  Lindbergh beat Levine across the Atlantic by two weeks.  Henry Sapoznik brings us the story of two planes, two songs, and two men named Charles.

Correction: this story identifies Clarence Chamberlin's hometown as Davenport, Iowa. He was born in Denison, Iowa.



The TTBOOK comments sections are mostly dead space but Charles Levine wasn't any kind of hero before, during, or after 1927. Regularly embroiled in lawsuits and criminal charges, he had a lifelong bad reputation. In any event, Lindbergh made the first flight, he did it solo, and he landed where and when he said he would. Levine isn't remembered today because not only was he on the second flight but also because he was unnecessary baggage. He wasn't a pilot or, given that they were off course much of the time, a navigator. At most, he probably kept Chamberlin from falling asleep.

I second the comments of Mr. Marks above, and would like to add that Mr. Sapoznik is peddling a lot of self-righteous BS. It was not prejudice that denied to Mr. Levine his place in history, but rather his own poor business judgment and reckless self-promotion. If he hadn't wanted so badly to be on the plane, so he could be famous, he wouldn't have been embroiled in that legal dispute with one of his pilots. That was what delayed his departure and gave the other Charles the opportunity to beat him. That occurrence had nothing to do with prejudice. Likewise, he, Levine, had the opportunity to hire Lindbergh, but passed it up. That was another foolish move on Levine's part that had nothing to do with prejudice. Had the two Charles' been collaborators on that first non-stop flight, they both would have become famous together even if Levine did not actually cross the Atlantic with Lindbergh. He still would have received his due as the organizer and financier of the flight. The fact that he didn't is his fault, and his alone. Sapoznik is also guilty of ginning up phony claims of prejudice by his pointless and irrelevant citations of Henry Ford's defamation case, as well as Lindbergh's attitudes towards Nazi Germany, which he seriously mischaracterizes. And as for his comment about what Lindbergh and Ford may have discussed on their flight together, it is nothing but his own paranoid fantasies that he is projecting onto others. That hardly constitutes "TO THE BEST OF OUR KNOWLEDGE" Mr. Policon.

Sapoznik's speculation about their flight conversation made me laugh out loud. I imagined their dialogue:

FORD: Well Mr. Lindbergh we've just met and I've never flown in an airplane before but now that it's just the two of us, let's spend the next 4 to 5 minutes talking about the Jewish conspiracy to subvert Christianity and dominate civilization."

LINDBERGH: "You already know about that? It's a small world, isn't it."