Born in France
, Raymond Orteig
came to New York City
in 1912, where he personified the American dream
by starting as a bus boy
and ending up owning two hotels.
In 1919, to promote a better connection between his homeland and his adopted country, Orteig offered a prize of $25,000 (a lot of dough back then) for the first nonstop aircraft flight (it did not have to be solo) between New York and Paris. Several of the pilots who attempted the feat didn't make it, and paid with their lives. For many years, it seemed that the prize couldn't be won.
On the morning of May 20th, 1927 Charles Lindbergh took off from Rooseveldt Field (now the location of a mall, but they have a nice plaque commemorating the event) in a Ryan single-engine monoplane (as opposed to biplane) he called The Spirit of St. Louis. The plane arrived in Paris on the 21st, 33.5 hours later. Lindbergh became an international celebrity in addition to winning the prize.
To certify the flight, his tanks were sealed prior to departure, and a sealed recording barograph (atmospheric pressure sensor) was placed on board (kind of a primitive black box) to prove he actually flew there instead of being carried on a ship.