Defying Distance: Adventures From New York to Paris

When you put New York and Paris in the same sentence, you would probably think of the international fashion week that opens in New York and ends in Paris, but not too long ago, New York and Paris were known far and wide as the routes of the first and longest non-stop single-engine flight undertaken by the American aviator named Charles Lindbergh. For this feat, Charles Lindbergh not only earned international fame, he also made it to the TIME’s front cover as the TIME Man of the Year.

At a time when aviation technology was at its crudest, Charles Lindbergh managed to cross 3,600 miles on a single-seat, single-engine monoplane from Garden City, New York to Le Bourget Field, Paris. This feat was considered very historic and Lindbergh was later awarded with the Medal of Honor.

Traveling that distance was deemed almost impossible by many “experts” at the time; not only was it considered difficult, it was almost deemed unsafe. No one knew how well monoplanes could hold up, especially when traveling 3,600 miles with a few stop-overs along the way. If anything, Lindbergh’s success proved that getting to Paris from New York will one day be just a half-day journey, or even less.

Prior to Lindbergh’s long-distance expeditions, several races have already been held to prove that intercontinental trips will one day connect two of the world’s most fashionable metropolitans to each other; one of which was the ‘1908 New York to Paris’ Race.

Needless to say, the ‘1908 New York to Paris’ Race was considered historical because the automobiles used by the participants in the race were not equipped with security features most race cars have, today. Just imagine a tin can with wheels and tires and packed with flammable gasoline making a thousand-mile trek from North America to the heart of Europe. The ‘1908 New York to Paris’ Race might seem more like long-distance death-defying stunt than an automobile race, but when it ended successfully, it defied the norms of travel and gave made the New York to Paris route more of a reality.

The routes from New York to Paris are more common today: if you want to go to Paris with New York as your starting point, all you have to do is to hop on a plane from the JFK airport and you’ll be in Charles de Gaulle before nightfall.

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