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Historian researches Lucky Lindy’s Utah stop

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Ev Cassagneres hopes readers of the Deseret News can help him re-create one of the highlights of the 1920s in Utah, the visit by the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.

It happened Sept. 3, 1927, about 3 1/2 months after Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. Only 25 years old, he was hailed as a hero throughout the world and called the "lone eagle."Back in the United States, Lindbergh and his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, took off on a nationwide tour to promote aviation.

He flew the monoplane from Cheyenne to Salt Lake City, landing at an airport called Woodward Field.

"One of the biggest, most enthusiastic and withal most orderly crowds which ever gathered in Salt Lake witnessed Col. Charles A. Lindbergh's arrival in his historic plane, `Spirit of St. Louis,' " the Deseret News noted.

Lindbergh was greeted by a throng of admirers and was entertained by the governor and other officials. He was given a parade, and he spoke at a rally in Liberty Park.

His next stop was Boise.

Cassagneres, an author from Cheshire, Conn., is writing a book about the tour, with special attention to the changes that the Spirit of St. Louis underwent during the barnstorming.

He hopes to "document the initial design and building of the Spirit of St. Louis, the New York-Paris flight and Lindbergh's subsequent goodwill tours," he noted. He has been conducting interviews by phone, letter and in person with people who witnessed the events.

Hearing of the project, in February 1968 Lindbergh invited Cas-sag-neres to his home, where he gave him firsthand information for the book.

During the goodwill tour that took him to Utah, Lindbergh flew for nearly 261 hours and made 82 stops. Cassagneres has located photographs of the plane at many of them - but not Salt Lake City.

"There's a slight rumor - and I don't have anything solid to go with it - that the wheels (of the airplane) may have been changed in Salt Lake City," he said. Perhaps, he added, if a reader has a view of the plane on the runway of Woodward Field, Cassagneres can compare it with other views and tell if they are different.

He has written two books about the Ryan company, builders of the Spirit of St. Louis, and has become a historian of the company, with huge archives about its aircraft.

Over the past 30 years of digging up information for his book, Cassagneres discovered that Lindbergh's tour was important in interesting people in air travel. Many airports were built as a result.

"This story's never really been told," Cassagneres said on Wednesday.

He was in Utah for a few days so he could check the State Historical Society and newspapers for photos of the Lindbergh visit. He also intended to travel to what is believed to be the site of Woodward Field near the Salt Lake International Airport.

So far he hasn't found any pictures of the Spirit of St. Louis in Utah. In fact, the only photos of the tour were in old microfilm files of the newspapers - the "throng" watching the landing, a specially decorated hangar to house the famous airplane, people going to Liberty Park for the speech.

"He was always on time at every city except Portland, Maine, and that was due to a fog in the morning. That's through all kinds of weather with no navigation facilities at all except for his compass."

Today Cassagneres' research is nearly finished, but he would like to know more about the Utah visit.

He asks for a note from anyone with photos or memories of the visit, or recollections of what relatives said about Lindbergh's stop here. Letters should be addressed to Ev Cassagneres, P.O. Box 145, Cheshire, CT 06410. He can be reached by telephone at 203-272-2127.