Charles Lindbergh & The Gremlins

MrRING

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#1
I was looking through an encyclopedia of ghosts and spirits when I came across the entry for gremlins. Now, I had heard that Roald Dahl had created them based on a joke pilots said to each other, but instead the article insisted that they had been reported on planes as early as the 20's. It even said that Charles Lindbergh reported seeing them on his transatlantic flight, as reported in an autobiography at some point.

This is the book I checked out, of which the ad mentions just a bit of this:
Entries include:
Gremlins: small, pesky spirits that first appeared in British military aircraft during World War II; Charles Lindbergh reported their presence on board his famed transatlantic flight
Poltergeists: beings that may be linked to the presence of adolescents whose repressed emotions may somehow activate paranormal forces
Ghostbusters: real-life researchers into the paranormal.
I also ran across this:
The Ghostly flight of Charles A. Lindbergh

For Charles A. Lindbergh, the most extraordinary moments of his 1927 transatlantic flight may have taken place during the trip's twenty-second hour.

Enveloped in a dense fog, staring blankly at the instrument panel, battling an overwhelming desire to sleep, Lindbergh felt himself becoming as formless as a ghost.

"I existed independently of time and matter," he recalled nearly fifty years later. "I felt myself departing from my body as I imagine a spirit would depart.... Emanating into the cockpit, extending through the fuselage as though no frame or fabric walls were there, angling upward, outward, until I reformed in an awareness far distant from the human form I left in a fast-flying transatlantic plane. But I remained connected to my body through a long-extended strand, a strand so tenuous that it could have been severed by a breath."

Lindbergh realized others would attribute his out of body experience to extreme fatigue; in his autobiography, the aviator responded to that logic. " My visions," he wrote," are easily explained away through reason, but the longer I live, the more limited I believe rationality to be."
Does anybody know anymore about this, or about any other sightings of gremlins pre-Roald Dahl's book?
 
A

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#2
Not much to add really, just that the "Spirit of St. Louis" had a strange design feature. The main fuel tank was placed directly infront of Lindbergh (he didn't want to be caught between it and the engine if he had to have a forced landing). It would have normally been placed behind his seat. My point is that the fumes from the tank might have had an hallucinogenic effect. Coupled with the lack of sleep and boredom (he couldn't see out of the plane and had to use a periscope - not that he would have seen much, anyway) must have sent his head into a spin.



Does anyone know if the business with the fly, immortalized by Jimmy Stewart, actually happened (ie reported by Lindbergh)?
 

gazzo10

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#3
I Really like this film, 'The Spirit of St. Louis', has anybody got it? or can I watch it on you tube or something? its one of my favourite films, Im desperate to get a copy of this film, ive tried everything to get it but cant seem to get a copy of it, the last time I tried to dvd it, it got all fucked up. I tried to order it from H.M.V. they aint got it, neither have virgin. what can I do? Please help?
 

Jerry_B

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#5
Frobush said:
Not much to add really, just that the "Spirit of St. Louis" had a strange design feature. The main fuel tank was placed directly infront of Lindbergh (he didn't want to be caught between it and the engine if he had to have a forced landing). It would have normally been placed behind his seat. My point is that the fumes from the tank might have had an hallucinogenic effect. Coupled with the lack of sleep and boredom (he couldn't see out of the plane and had to use a periscope - not that he would have seen much, anyway) must have sent his head into a spin.
Putting the fuel tank ahead of the pilot isn't all that unusual in terms of aircraft design - other options include putting the pilots' seat on top of or in from of the tank. Also, AFAIK, aviation fuel isn't a hallucinogen. And, if Lindbergh had smelt any fumes from it, it would've been enough for him to abandon his flight. Leaking fuel and fires are, after all, one of the worst hazards that can beset an aircraft.
 

AMPHIARAUS

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#6
Frobush said:
Does anyone know if the business with the fly, immortalized by Jimmy Stewart, actually happened (ie reported by Lindbergh)?
Billy Wilder said:
But it was not to be, so we had to invent ... because I did not want to have voice-over. I had to invent a fly that finds its way into the cockpit, and Lindbergh, played by James Stewart, talks to the fly. The fly is very good, because when Lindbergh talks to the fly, he says, "Look, you're good luck, because nobody's ever seen a fly crash."
 

GNC

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#7
AMPHIARAUS said:
Billy Wilder said:
But it was not to be, so we had to invent ... because I did not want to have voice-over. I had to invent a fly that finds its way into the cockpit, and Lindbergh, played by James Stewart, talks to the fly. The fly is very good, because when Lindbergh talks to the fly, he says, "Look, you're good luck, because nobody's ever seen a fly crash."
They bump into a lot of windows, mind you.
 

OldTimeRadio

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#8
My original understanding, as a child during the years following World War Two was that the term "gremlin" had been entirely made-up by American members of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) active in England.

But I later realized that the term went back in the RAF until the 1920s or even the First World War.

And far from being an invented term it seems to derive from the Erse (?) word gruaimin, "ill-tempered little fellow."

But perhaps there was also some word-play between "Gruamin" and the American military aircraft manufacturer Grumman?

EDIT - I corrected "Gruman" to "Grumman" to agree with EnolaGaia's post below.
 

OldTimeRadio

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#9
"Gremlins" are a fascinating subject and I very much thank Mr. Ring for starting the thread. But mightn't there be a more appropriate place for it than here under "Ghosts"?
 

OneWingedBird

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#10
Coupled with the lack of sleep and boredom (he couldn't see out of the plane and had to use a periscope - not that he would have seen much, anyway) must have sent his head into a spin.
the conditions sound close to getting on for sensory deprivation... and don't know what the engine noise was like on one of those things, but it might not have helped either...
 

MrRING

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#11
OldTimeRadio said:
"Gremlins" are a fascinating subject and I very much thank Mr. Ring for starting the thread. But mightn't there be a more appropriate place for it than here under "Ghosts"?
I hesitated at first to put it here as well, but the Lindbergh gremlins sound more along the line of spirits or poltergeists than the little critters from the Gremlins film.
 

EnolaGaia

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#12
OldTimeRadio said:
... But perhaps there was also some word-play between "Gruamin" and the American military aircraft manufacturer Gruman?
I don't know about 'back then', but there is a connection nowadays ...

For years I've used the facetious term 'grumlin' to refer to Northrop Grumman employees ... :twisted:
 

OldTimeRadio

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#13
The gruamin/Grumman connection didn't really occur to me until I was keyboarding last night's post but once it did it's inescapable.

So if "Gremlins" had/have any sort of physicial or even semi-physical existence, Loren Coleman's "Fortean name game" may come into play here.

Yes, Gremlins had apparently been known previously to the RAF but it wasn't until the introduction of Grumman aircraft to England during the American participation in World War Two (and I suppose previously under Lend-Lease) that Gremlins became known around the world.
 

decipheringscars

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#14
Before I was being treated for bipolar disorder, I had a few odd experiences, not quite that extreme, but I chalk them up to brain chemistry. They were also sometimes similar to panic attacks, and if anyone's ever had one of those, they know the feeling of unreality that accompanies them.

The best example I remember is driving home late at the end of some road trip, heading north on I-75 (still south of Detroit), and having the feeling I was actually sitting back behind my body a little, watching rather than actually driving. Happily, it didn't last too long, because it scared me. Although I was on the expressway, there were curves in the road, and I was "watching" the car manoeuvre without any sense I was actually turning the wheel, etc. Obviously, it was a case of "going into auto-pilot" coupled with some bipolar "expansive" or euphoric feeling. But anyway, I'm sure a "normal" brain (not bipolar) can produce similar effects due to fatigue, etc.
 

decipheringscars

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#15
BTW, are there actual descriptions of the "gremlins" from anyone, including Lindbergh? I assume the gremlins and the "out-of-body" experience must be two different things?
 

OldTimeRadio

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#16
decipheringscars said:
BTW, are there actual descriptions of the "gremlins" from anyone, including Lindbergh?
Have you tried entering "gremlins" into Google or Yahoo image search?

But my understanding is that it is not gremlins who are observed so much as the supposed results of their malignant activities.
 

MrRING

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#17
The book that I was reading to start this thread described them as ill-defined gaseous shapes.
 

gazzo10

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#19
Watched the spirit of St. louis last night,starring James Stewart, and it was a bit strange, but during the take off (The main take off to Paris in the appauling rain) the flight number on the plane which i think was NA21 written on the right hand wing perhaps, but will check it, seemed to read NAZI at an angle? Obviously Charles Lindbergh was seen as as pro nazi for his anti-war stance at some point, did Hollywood do this as a subtle reminder, or was hollywood involved in some kind of subtle pro Nazi statement, reminding the audience that this man who travelled across the Atlantic single handed in an aeroplane was an aspiring supporter of the master race? Or was it all just some kind of weird coincidence, Why would Lindberge choose that number anyway, so on and so forth...anyone wish to debate, or can offer some explanations?
 
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#20
gazzo10 said:
... the flight number on the plane which i think was NA21 written on the right hand wing perhaps, but will check it, seemed to read NAZI at an angle? ...
The reg. N° on the original plane appears to have been, N-X-211.

 

EnolaGaia

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#21
The registration number is most commonly cited as "NX-211" or "NX211". According to the registration documentation available at:

http://www.dmairfield.com/airplanes/NX_211/index.htm

... the official registration plate, etc., was not issued until June 1927 - *after* Lindbergh flew the plane across the Atlantic.

The registration was cancelled the following year, probably in response to the plane being 'retired'.
 

decipheringscars

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#22
OldTimeRadio said:
decipheringscars said:
BTW, are there actual descriptions of the "gremlins" from anyone, including Lindbergh?
Have you tried entering "gremlins" into Google or Yahoo image search?

But my understanding is that it is not gremlins who are observed so much as the supposed results of their malignant activities.
That was always my impression too, but if you (generically speaking) make a serious claim of an experience of gremlins, I would think there would have to be some reason you believe the entities exist rather than just using a name to describe a phenomenon of mechanical malfunctions - or else you'd just say you'd experienced the malfunctions and jokingly call it "gremlins."

However, I guess I'm not interested enough to research it, even on Google. I just thought someone here would have a quick answer. :?
 

gazzo10

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#23
Thanks chaps for the original plane number, but i was specifically looking at the 'films' interpretation' of the plane number. Please watch the film with the take off scene in the rain, as the plane begins to make its way off to Paris we capture the flight number as reading quite clearly 'NAZI' Was this a genuine goof by hollywood? or deliberate misinterpretation? But what a weird coincidence? My own belief is that it was formatted by the subconcious belief systems of the crew making the film and that was its expression! There are probably other films where this has occured or even books.
 

tilly50

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#24
Going back to the idea of Gremlins, my Godfather, who was in the RAF with my dad, always thought the Gremlins and Foo fighters (the lights seen by aircrew around the 'planes) were somehow linked to air crew that had been killled in previous raids who had come back to be with their comrades.

He pointed out that the German aircrews experienced similar phenomena and that it would be natural for departed comrades to tag along with those they had formed such close bonds with in life.
 

suburban wolf

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#25
Some interesting views on both Lindberg and Gremlins.

I have been led to believe that during WWII "gremlins" were blamed for equipment malfunction as it was easier to point to an mischeavious imp as the cause rather than point to a fellow member of the (conscripted) armed forces.

Given the conscript nature of the wartime forces, it cannot be too much to conjure that some people just plain didn't want to be there, didn't like being ordered around, and ultimately couldn't careless.

It was either that or focus on the mysterious "Fifth Column" working for the enemy - too many accidents blamed on sabotage though, and morale crash dives as the troops feel they can't escape this omnipresent foe and give up.

Thus "Mr Nobody" came the default target.

At least, that's what I've been led to believe....
 

Lys617

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#26
My understanding is that the Gremlins came about around about WW1 onwards and they gained their name from the bastardisation of a popular beer at the time, whose name I can never recall. Nothing to do with the Grumman aircraft at all.

They gained greater popularity in WW2 when aircrews were flying at higher altitudes for longer and so had greater pressure upon them and more extreme exhaustion which may have caused either mistakes through tirednesss, which was accepted as a peril of wartime, or the aircraft were malfunctioning through flight/combat stress

Gremlins was a name given to something that was an inescapable fact of war. Mistakes and malfuntions would happen. And they may have come out of the clinically recognised combat stress/exhaustion. Lets face it, if you were on scramble for up to 20 hours a day, or flying 8 hour missions in the pitch dark over enemy territory for 6 monthst at a time, then you'd start seeing things.

Then aircraft had to be flown for every second, autopilots didn't really come in till the heavy bombers of 42 onwards and even then they weren't perfect. :D
 
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