In 1934 Anne Morrow Lindbergh became the first woman to receive the Hubbard Gold Medal, the National Geographic Society's highest award for feats in exploration. She received the award for serving as radio operator and copilot alongside her husband Charles on two significant exploratory flights in 1931 and 1933. In 1931 the Lindberghs flew to the Orient, proving the viability of traveling from the West to the Far East via the Great Circle route to the North. In 1933 they flew across the North and South Atlantic, collecting information for the planning of trans-Atlantic commercial air routes.
Named after Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the founder of the National Geographic Society and one of the founders of Bell Telephone Company, the Hubbard Gold Medal was considered America's highest award for explorers and was given only occasionally. Charles Lindbergh also received the Hubbard Gold Medal in 1927 for making the first solo flight across the Atlantic. Other notable past winners include the polar explorers Roald Amundsen and Ernest Shackelford, the British mountaineer Edmund Hillary, the American astronaut John Glenn, and the members of the Apollo 11 lunar mission.
Anne Lindbergh earned the Hubbard Medal because she was vital to the success of the Lindberghs' 1931 and 1933 flights. Much more than merely a passenger, she operated all of the radio equipment (which was essential for navigation) and occasionally flew the plane when Charles took breaks to sleep. Prior to the 1931 flight she worked hard to learn Morse code and aviation skills in order to earn her radio operator's license and pilot's license.