In his public life, American aviator Charles Lindbergh had traveled to countries all around the globe. He was honored by kings and celebrated by leaders from France to the Philippines. For his final resting place, however, the famed “Lone Eagle” chose his beloved home, Kipahulu, a remote settlement on the eastern coast of Maui.
Lindbergh’s introduction to Kipahulu came in the 1950s when he began visiting his longtime friend, Pan Am executive Sam Pryor. Pryor had settled on 100 acres in this secluded community—Kipahulu is about 10 miles beyond Hana—and frequently hosted Lindbergh and his wife, author Anne Morrow Lindbergh. With each visit, the Lindberghs became more enamored of the area.
Eventually, Pryor sold Lindbergh five acres of his property, and by 1971, the Lindberghs had local workmen build a lava-walled, A-frame house in Kipahulu near the edge of 100-foot-high cliffs. While it lacked the modern comforts of air conditioning and television, the residence allowed the couple to get closer to the wilderness they cherished.
The Lindberghs lived in Kipahulu for part of the year; the rest of the time, they lived at their home in Darien, Connecticut. But with each passing year, they found themselves more and more drawn to Maui. Lindbergh himself spoke of how much he enjoyed falling asleep “listening to the sounds of the surf rolling the stones against each other on the beach.”
To the world, Lindbergh was the man who made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean (he achieved this feat in May 1927). For Kipahulu residents, however, he was just another member of the community. Remarked one Hana resident in a 1991 ALOHA Magazine article, “Sundays, they’d go to church. They would come and leave very quietly. They were just ordinary people, like the rest of us.”
In mid-August 1974, a cancer-ravaged Lindbergh lay in a New York hospital room. He was told that he only had weeks—maybe only days—to live. Doctors advised him to remain in New York, but Lindbergh wanted to spend his final days in the enchanting Maui community he had come to love.
“I love Maui so much,” he said. “I would rather live one day in Maui than one month in New York.”
Thus, Lindbergh returned to Kipahulu. At about 7:15 in the morning on August 26, the “Lone Eagle” breathed his last. He was 72. His grave lies under the shade of a Java plum tree on the grounds of Palapala Hoomau Church. A two-line inscription on his gravesite quotes Psalm 139: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…”