Pollen Spore Collector, "Sky-Hook", Lockheed Sirius "Tingmissartoq", Lindbergh


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

During their 1933 survey flights across the North and South Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, attached this "Sky Hook" instrument to their Lockheed Sirius aircraft. It was used for collecting samples of fungus spores and plant pollen suspended in the atmosphere. Airplanes had been used to collect spores as early as 1921, but the "Sky Hook" was the first instrument of its kind to accompany a transatlantic flight. It was a brand new instrument, designed by Lindbergh himself and completed just before the 1933 trip. There was not even enough time to test whether the instrument worked during a flight.

Charles sent the samples he collected to Dr. F. Meier of the United States Department of Agriculture to aid Dr. Meier's studies on how air currents spread spores and pollen. Scientists had suspected that air currents could carry pollen and fungus spores across oceans and continents, but Lindbergh's samples provided the first concrete evidence in support of this theory. Certain spores he collected which were abundant over Maine and Labrador were also present over the Davis Straight, the Greenland Ice Cap, and even as far away as the Denmark Straight.

The Lindberghs' 1933 flights were an ideal opportunity to study long distance movement of spores and pollen. While spore and pollen samples taken over land in temperate climates were often diluted by material originating from local sources, this was not a problem during the Lindberghs' 1933 flights because their route went over water and ice in northern latitudes where there was no local vegetation.

Overall, Charles collected 26 samples during flights between North Haven, Maine and Copenhagen, Denmark. He took most of these samples while flying over expanses of water, ice, and barren mountain ranges.

Collection Item Long Description:

A vacation flight with "no start or finish, no diplomatic or commercial significance, and no records to be sought." So Charles A. Lindbergh described the flight that he and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, were planning to make to the Orient in 1931. Their choice of route, however, showed the feasibility of using the great circle to reach the Far East.

The Lindberghs flew in a Lockheed Sirius low-wing monoplane, powered by a 680-hp Wright Cyclone. The Sirius had been designed in 1929 by John K. Northrop and Gerard Vultee, and this model was specially fitted with Edo floats, since most of the Lindberghs flight was to be over water.

Their route took them from North Haven, Maine, to Ottawa, Moose Factory, Churchill, Baker Lake, and Aklavik, all in Canada; Point Barrow, Shismaref, and Nome, Alaska; Petropavlosk. Siberia; and on over the Kurile Islands to Japan. After receiving an enthusiastic welcome in Tokyo, they flew to China. They landed on Lotus Lake near Nanking on September 19, thus completing the first flight from the West to the East by way of the North.

At Hankow, the Sirius, with the Lindberghs aboard, was being lowered into the Yangtze River from the British aircraft carrier Hermes, when the aircraft accidentally capsized. One of the wings was damaged when it hit a ship's cable, and the aircraft had to be returned to the United States for repairs.

Their next venture in the Sirius came as a result of the five countries' interest in the development of commercial air transport. In 1933 Pan American Airways, Imperial Airways of Great Britain, Lufthansa of Germany, KLM of Holland, and Air France undertook a cooperative study of possible Atlantic routes. Each was assigned the responsibility for one of the following areas: New Newfoundland to Europe via Greenland; Newfoundland via the great circle route to Ireland; Newfoundland southeast to the Azores and Lisbon; Miami, Bermuda, the Azores, and Lisbon; and across the South Atlantic from Natal, Brazil, to Cape Verde, Africa.

Pan American was to survey the Newfoundland to Europe via Greenland route. Ground survey and weather crews in Greenland were already hard at work when Lindbergh, Pan Am's technical advisor, took off from New York on July 9 in the rebuilt Lockheed Sirius, again accompanied by his wife, who would serve as copilot and radio operator. A Sperry artificial horizon and a directional gyro had been added to the instrument panel since the previous flight, and a new Wright Cyclone SR1820-F2 engine of 710 horsepower was installed. Lindbergh's plan was not to set up a particular route but to gather as much information as possible on the area to be covered.

The Jellinge, a Danish ship, was chartered by Pan Am to maintain radio contact with the Lindberghs in the Labrador-Greenland-Iceland area. The ship also delivered advance supplies for them to Halifax, Saint John's, Cartwright, Greenland, and Iceland.

Every possible space in the aircraft was utilized, including the wings and floats, which contained the gasoline tanks. There was plenty of emergency equipment in case the Lindberghs had to make a forced landing in the frozen wilderness.

From New York, the Lindberghs flew up the eastern border of Canada to Hopedale, Labrador. From Hopedale they made the first major overwater hop, 650 miles to Godthaab, Greenland, where the Sirius acquired its name-Tingmissartoq, which in Eskimo means "one who flies like a big bird."

After crisscrossing Greenland to Baffin Island and back, and then on to Iceland, the Lindberghs proceeded to the major cities of Europe and as far east as Moscow, down the west coast of Africa, and across the South Atlantic to South America, where they flew down the Amazon, and then north through Trinidad and Barbados and back to the United States.

They returned to New York on December 19, having traveled 30,000 miles to four continents and twenty-one countries. The information gained from the trip proved invaluable in planning commercial air transport routes for the North and South Atlantic.

The aircraft was in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City until 1955. The AirForce Museum in Dayton, Ohio, then acquired it and transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1959.



Inventory Number


Physical Description

Two metal tubes of differing diameters and lengths. The smaller shorter tube is designed for a device to be attached. The attached device contains an adhesive, which when exposed collects particles from the air.

Credit Line

Transferred from the USAF Museum

Manufactured for

Charles A. Lindbergh




3-D: 114.3 x 3.8 x 9.5cm, 0.7kg (45 x 1 1/2 x 3 3/4 in., 1 5/8lb.)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


EQUIPMENT-Scientific Devices