US Coins

Gold medals for Lindbergh and Hughes aviation exploits

This is the sixth in a series of articles on congressional gold medals struck by the U.S. Mint:

Several congressional gold medals have been issued honoring the contributions to aeronautics and space by their respective recipients.

Two early notables are Charles Lindbergh, awarded in 1928, and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, awarded in 1939.

Lindbergh was recognized for his achievements in aviation.

Lindbergh completed the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20 to 21, 1927, in his custom-built, single-engine, single-seat monoplane, Spirit of St. Louis.

According to, “On May 20, Lindbergh took off in the Spirit of St. Louis from Roosevelt Field, near New York City, at 7:52 A.M. He landed at Le Bourget Field, near Paris, on May 21 at 10:21 P.M. Paris time (5:21 P.M. New York time). Thousands of cheering people had gathered to meet him. He had flown more than 3,600 miles (5,790 kilometers) in 33 1/2 hours.”

Lindbergh received his gold medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross directly from President Calvin Coolidge.

The Lindbergh congressional gold medal was designed and sculptured by renowned medallic sculptor and coin designer Laura Gardin Fraser.

The medals obverse features a portrait of Lindbergh, facing right, in aviator’s garb. The reverse shows an eagle in flight as the sun rises over the horizon.

Examples of the bronze duplicate medals occasionally appear at numismatic auctions, on eBay and at other auction sites. At the time of this writing, eBay featured a number of the 2.75-inch medals priced between $40 and $50 with Buy It Now options.

Another high flier

Howard Hughes — an American aviator, aircraft engineer, industrialist, film producer, film director, and philanthropist — was recognized for achievements in “advancing the science of aviation and thus bringing great credit to his country throughout the world.”

The medal’s obverse depicts a portrait right of Hughes. The reverse captures a rendition of the global route Hughes flew around the world in 91 hours, 14 minutes, 10 seconds from July 10 to 14, 1938.

Hughes’ medal was ready for presentation in 1941, but Hughes never traveled to Washington, D.C., to formally receive his medal from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Hughes gold medal was eventually mailed to him years later, by FDR’s successor, Harry S. Truman.

Current bronze duplicates of the 3-inch gold medals are available in 1.5-inch and 3-inch sizes from the U.S. Mint’s website at Most of the bills authorizing the gold medals give the Mint authority to strike the collector versions of the medals.

A complete cumulative listing of the medals authorized as well as the recipients can be found at

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