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Airport’s Lindbergh Mural Coming Down

Evening Edition

Aired 6/19/12 on KPBS News.

For 15 years, travelers to and from the airport have been greeted by a prominent mural of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh’s reign on the side of the airport’s commuter terminal is coming to an end.

"Lucky/Spirit" was painted by John Whalen in 1997. It features aviator Charles Lindbergh and his monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis.
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Above: "Lucky/Spirit" was painted by John Whalen in 1997. It features aviator Charles Lindbergh and his monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis.

With his crooked smile and lumpy aviator jumpsuit, the roughly 30-foot figure of Charles Lindbergh looms over traffic on Harbor Drive.

But not after today.

It will be removed from the side of the San Diego Airport's commuter terminal so that the building can undergo maintenance.

Constance White is the Art Program Manager for the airport. "I think it’s important for the public to know, that although it’s being removed, it’s not being deaccessioned. The piece is still a part of our collection and we would never sell this work to any other entity or airport. It will not be auctioned off," she said.

Instead, the Lindbergh likeness will be conserved and go into storage. White is unsure whether it will be returned to the terminal wall.

The mural, titled "Lucky/Spirit," was painted in 1997 by local artist John Whalen.

The towering Lindbergh is painted on aluminum panels which will be removed one by one. The mural’s sky blue backdrop will remain for the time being.

The removal and conservation will cost $20,000.

When conservators recently removed a test panel, they discovered the paint behind Lindbergh was a brighter, more vibrant blue, because it wasn’t exposed to the elements. That means after Lindbergh is removed from the wall, a dark blue shadow of famous aviator will remain in his place.

Lindbergh’s monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, was built by a San Diego company and in 1927 he flew a test flight from here to New York.

Video by Nicholas McVicker

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 19, 2012 at 8:17 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

"*We can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races.*"

-Charles Lindbergh

I find it peculiar and disturbing not only that our airport was named after a racist Nazi sympathizer, but that the majority of San Diegans seem either ignorant of or content with simply ignoring history and believing our airport's namesake is a grand hero.

Time and time again stories appear in the local media about **Lindbergh** Field, but nobody - either journalists themselves or those they interview - ever bring up the controversial past of his man.

This article is no different - people reassuring us the mural will be preserved as if we are all so dismayed the Nazi sympathizer's portrait will be taken off the side of a prominent building. How about some reassurance it I'll never go up again.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'watersaversd'

watersaversd | October 29, 2012 at 12:04 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

Charles Lindbergh was a Nazi supporter and racist. He had letters from Hitler directing him to start a movement (he called it America First) to keep America out of the war so Hitler would have more time to kill Jews, Lindbergh happily followed any direction from Hitler. In addition, Lindbergh wrote numerous articles and papers with anti-Semitic and racist views supporting the Nazis.

Get Lindbergh out of here and don't put his picture back up. Time to change the name of the airport too.

( | suggest removal )