Charles Lindbergh and the plane in which he crossed the Atlantic in 1927
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, operator of Lindbergh Field, is looking to replace its Lindbergh history display in the lobby of Balboa Park’s Air and Space Museum with a trendier and possibly more politically correct incarnation.
“The Authority seeks proposals from individuals/firms to provide a new, interactive and contemporary exhibit that promotes and enhances acceptance of the Airport in the community, provides educational content about the Airport, and encourages visitors to consider careers in aviation,” according to a recent request for proposals. “The content shall be an interactive aviation education component, with an engaging information level with a ‘fun factor’ while staying cutting edge within the industry.”
The price of the high-tech exhibit remake is set at a cool “not to exceed” $250,000. The airport authority has long been putting distance between itself and traditional airport namesake Charles Lindbergh, whose Atlantic-crossing Spirit of St. Louis monoplane was built by Ryan Aircraft here in 1926. Though Lindbergh became a national hero after his solo ocean flight in 1927, the Minnesotan later ran afoul of Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt after speaking in favor of a neutrality pact with Germany and warning that Britain, Roosevelt, and “the Jewish” were pressing for the United States to enter what became World War II.
Three years ago, the airport authority removed the towering mural of Lindbergh on the exterior wall of what was then the airport’s commuter flight terminal. Some Lindbergh critics said that wasn’t enough and called for stripping the flight pioneer’s name from the airport altogether. In November 2012, Mira Mesans Michael and Victoria Barzilli fired off a letter to the airport board, asserting that Lindbergh was “unquestionably un-American,” citing Roosevelt’s famous line from a 1940 letter to his treasury secretary: “If I should die tomorrow, I want you to know this, I am absolutely convinced Lindbergh is a Nazi.” Backers say that Lindbergh and his history is more nuanced, pointing out that Lindbergh managed to fly more than 50 combat missions as an aircraft makers’ consultant in the Pacific, though Roosevelt had barred him from official service.
“The content for the exhibit is still being developed, but it will incorporate the following main themes: destinations, history, airport at work, passenger experience and environment,” an airport spokeswoman said in an email this week.