Charles A. Lindberg became America's first super star celebrity of the Jazz Age when he flew alone across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris in May 1927 to win the Orteig Prize. Although newspapers of the era called him "Lucky Lindy," his flying days in Illinois included more than their share of bad luck. In March 1925 there was a tornado in Murphysboro, Illinois that caused major damage. The Chicago Daily Tribune hired Lindbergh to fly from Chicago to Murphysboro to pick up photo negatives of the damage that were taken by a Tribune reporter. But a reporter for the competing Hearst newspapers found out when Lindbergh was due to land and gave him blank plates in order to prevent a Tribune scoop. This dirty trick that was no fault of Lindy's, nevertheless caused the Tribune to refuse to pay him for his flight and this event fueled Lindy's intense dislike for newspaper reporters the rest of his life. On April, 15, 1926, Robertson Aircraft hired Lindbergh as a pilot and supervisor of Contract Air Mail Route Number Two from Maywood, Illinois to Peoria, to Springfield, and to St. Louis for five round trips every week in a World War I surplus British DeHaviland 4 biplane. Everything went well during the good weather months of the summer but on Sept. 26, 1926, Lindy got lost in the fog over Marseilles, Illinois and had to parachute into the cornfield of the Charles Thompson farm near Ottawa, Illinois. When he jumped from his plane, Lindy had left the ignition key in the on position and the engine was hot. As the nose of the plane headed down with wind pushing the propeller around, more gasoline flowed into the caburetor so the hot engine started itself again with no pilot as it circled around and almost hit Lindy in his parachute when it made tight turns on the way down. Only five weeks later on Nov. 3, 1926, Lindy again bailed out in a snowstorm as his plane crashed only two miles away on the Robert Runge farm near Bloomington. As a result, Lindy was in danger of losing his pilot's license because he was the only pilot in the U.S. at that time who had four forced parachute jumps on his record. The man who would decide Lindbergh's fate as a pilot was an active member of the Illinois State Society of Washington, DC. He was also a strong advocate for aviation safety and his name was William P. MacCracken, who was Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics under Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover in 1926. MacCracken is pictured at left. Bill MacCracken was a graduate of the University of Chicago School of law and he had also served as an Assistant Illinois Attorney General when Hoover hired him to supervise the infant aviation industry in 1926. MacCracken was worried that Lindbergh was too reckless and the next time he crashed it might be over a more populated area than the farms of central Illinois. But friends of Lindbergh pleaded that he be allowed to keep his licence if he agreed not to fly mail in Illinois so he could prepare for his attempt at the Orteig Prize in May 1927. MacCracken reasoned that once Lindy was over the Atlantic Ocean, he was no longer MacCracken's responsibility so he let Lindy keep his license over U.S. territory until he made his 1927 flight. MacCracken and Lindy later became friends as they both campaigned for aviation safety in later years.