Visit a Legendary Aviator’s Grave

By Hawaii.com Team

Charles Lindbergh’s grave site, Maui. Photo: Hawaii.com member Nicole M.

In 1974, suffering from terminal cancer, Charles Lindbergh, was flown to his home on Maui where he set about planning his funeral. In 1927, Lindbergh earned huge celebrity when he became the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic. That celebrity was eclipsed in 1932 with the publicity surrounding the kidnap and murder of his eldest child.

As well, Lindbergh’s political beliefs blurred his huge stature as an American hero. His isolationist leanings, efforts to keep the United States out of WWII and his views about Hitler led many Americans to brand Lindbergh a Nazi, an anti-Semite and a traitor. But to most, he remains an American hero.

In the end, Lindbergh found a measure of peace in an isolated cemetery on the slopes of Haleakala, 12 miles beyond Hana, in Kipahulu. He and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, had a home in Kipahulu. The house is being moved to a site within Haleakala National Park.

He died on Aug. 26, 1974 at the age of 72. He was placed in his coffin wearing his favorite working clothes: a long-sleeved shirt and worn pants. Around noon that day, a pick-up truck transported Lindbergh’s coffin to the church without fanfare. A scant 14 people witnessed its arrival and attended the short ceremony inside the Palapala Ho’omau Church adjacent to the cemetery. His late wife sat alone in the first pew, her neighbors gathered behind her protectively. There were neither elaborate funeral wreaths nor messages of condolences from around the world.

High above the distant ocean and reachable only by a perilous so-called highway sabotaged by blind, cliffside turns, Lindbergh’s resting place is an oasis of gentle peace and quiet. A Chinese banyan spreads its branches protectively over the entrance to the church’s enclosed yard. Simple concrete stepping stones lead into the limestone and coral church that was built in 1857. A plain, dark brown cross seems to be the only ornament, but as you come near you will see a painted glass window of Jesus Christ. The window is displayed in a niche on the side of the church. Samuel F. Pryor, who was Charles Lindbergh’s close friend and neighbor, commissioned a New Zealand artist to do the window for the church when Pryor restored it many years ago.

The road to the church is one mile from the parking lot entrance of Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu. As you navigate the narrow, windy Pi’ilani Highway from Hana, watch for the 41 mile marker sign on the right-hand side of the road at the crest of a small hill. Drive past the fruit stand and the road to the church will be on your left. Look for a wooden water tank under a tree and a sign for the church.

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