As he fights sleep with his eyes constantly closing and opening and closing again, he finds something within himself. Above the mind and the body he finds a third element:
"My body knows definitely that what it wants most in the world is sleep. My mind which is constantly making decisions that my body refuses to comply with is weakening in resolution."
But something else "which seems to become stronger instead of weaker with fatigue, an element of spirit, a directive force"....... "has stepped out from the background and taken control of both mind and body".
"It seems to guard them as a wise father guards his children; letting them venture to the point of danger, then calling them back, guiding with a firm but tolerant hand."
“When my body cries out that it must sleep, this third element replies that it may get what rest it can from relaxation, but that sleep is not to be had."
"When my mind demands that my body stay alert and awake, it is informed that alertness is too much to expect under these circumstances."
"And when it argues excitedly that to sleep would be to fail, and crash, and drown in the ocean, it is calmly reassured, and told it’s right, but that while it must not expect alertness on the body’s part, it can be confident there’ll be no sleep."
"This third element, this separate mind which is mine and yet is not, this mind both far away in eternity and within the confines of my skull, within the cockpit and outside of it at the same moment, connected to me and yet unlimited to any finite space."
When he landed in Paris, Lindbergh had not slept for 72 hours. Consider this; when Hannibal led his army into Italy, there was a period when he went without sleep for four days. He caught an infection and went blind in one eye.
Lindbergh was the 92nd person to fly across the Atlantic, and his was the 14th flight. (Thirty-one of the flyers were on one dirigible, the R-34 in 1919.)
He was the first person to cross the Atlantic alone by air, whether in an airplane or airship.
He was the first person to fly nonstop from the U.S. to Europe in an airplane (as distinct from an airship).
He broke the record for longest straight-line distance flown nonstop in an airplane, and what's more, he did it alone, (which meant of course that he could carry more gas).
And his was the first flight in an airplane (solo or not) from New York to France.
In New York, about four million people lined the parade route, equivalent to about 60% of the city's population (although this number included out-of-towners).
An estimated 25% of the entire U.S. population came out to see him on his 82-stop tour of the country after his return.
Within a few months, there was more film footage of him in existence than of any other human being, ever.