WACO, Texas – On May 21, Charles Lindbergh’s grandson Erik will help NASA dedicate a special 747 astronomy aircraft to the trailblazing aviator. May 21 is the 80th anniversary of Lindbergh’s historic solo New York-to-Paris flight. The ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. CDT, at the Texas State Technical College Airport in Waco.

The unique Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, incorporates a 98.4 inch infrared telescope mounted in a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. The airborne observatory is a partnership between NASA and the German Aerospace Center. Lindbergh’s grandson will rededicate the aircraft, called “Clipper Lindbergh,” during the event. Lindbergh recreated his grandfather’s solo transatlantic crossing in 2002. Along with program managers and scientists, he will be available for live video interviews at the SOFIA aircraft.

The SOFIA 747 was originally christened by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, widow of the famous aviator, when it began service as an airliner in 1977. The plane has a 16-foot-high door in the aft fuselage that will open, allowing the 45,000-pound telescope to capture astronomical data in the infrared spectrum at altitudes that could exceed 40,000 feet. By flying above 90 percent of the Earth’s atmospheric water vapor, SOFIA will significantly exceed the capabilities of infrared observatories on Earth.

News media wishing to attend the event must request accreditation by May 16 from the public affairs office at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. Reporters should submit their full name, media affiliation, date and place of birth, and telephone number. Requests on company letterhead may be faxed to 661-276-3088 or e-mailed to beth.hagenauer-1@nasa.gov. Information also may be submitted by telephone to 661-276-7960 or 661-276-3449. For more information about SOFIA, visit: