Valley author to speak on controversial aviator Charles Lindbergh

Col_Charles_LindberghA noted former Smithsonian curator, aviation enthusiast and author will speak to his passion – Charles Lindbergh – Thursday, February 19, at the Smith Center in Staunton.  Part of the Augusta County Historical Society (ACHS) continuing Stuart Talks series, Von Hardesty will speak of the enigma that is Lindbergh, how he was a part of his age and how he illustrates the challenge for historians who seek to discover and present the past with accuracy.

Now retired, Hardesty was a curator in the Division of Aeronautics at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. for more than 30 years. He has written a number of books, including a biography of Lindbergh – Lindbergh: Flight’s Enigmatic Hero. His other books include Black Wings, Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History; Red Phoenix: The Rise of Soviet Air Power, 1941–1945; Air Force One: The Aircraft that Shaped the Modern Presidency; Great Aviators and Epic Flights; and Epic Rivalry: The Inside Story of the Soviet and American Space Race.

A member of the ACHS Board of Directors, Hardesty will speak beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 19, in the R. R. Smith Center for History & Art (2nd floor Lecture Room).  The event is free to ACHS members and $5 for non-members.  Student admission is $1.

Hardesty’s office in the Air and Space Museum was just a few feet from Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, and he has worked to create exhibitions reflecting the aviator’s controversial life and career. In his talk, Hardesty will discuss Lindbergh from a more personal perspective.  He notes that, despite countless books and other materials about Lindbergh, substantial mystery yet remains about the man, his character, his personal motives, and his historical role.

Hardesty will also use Lindbergh as an illustration in examining the difficulty for historians in understanding problematic themes and personalities of the past, how they challenge perspective and educational efforts.  He believes history’s grasp of past realities many be more tenuous than many would admit.

The ACHS was founded in 1964 to study, collect, preserve, publish, educate about, and promote the history of Augusta County and its communities. The society marked its 50th year in 2014 and is now beginning its second half-century. More information is available online at

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