Over La Salle County the plane engine began to sputter and Lindbergh switched on his reserve tank for another 20 minutes flying time. The reason the plane ran out of gas, as he later learned, was the 120-gallon fuel tank had been replaced without letting him know by an 85-gallon tank.
Realizing he would have to bail out, Lindbergh ascended to 5,000 feet when the engine again cut out.
“When one is contemplating a parachute drop, one craves for height,” Lindbergh said in an article that appeared a few days later in Ottawa’s Daily Republican-Times newspaper. “For a parachute does not open until the speed of the fall has created such a rush of upward air as to exert pressure under the silken folds.
“Twice before I had made emergency parachute jumps,” Lindbergh recalled. “Once at Kelly Field, Texas, the ship I was piloting crashing in midair with the plane of another poor devil, and I went over the side. Again, while testing a ship at St. Louis, it fell to pieces with me several thousand feet up. The parachute, of course, saved me. But those jumps had been in daytime with land in sight.”
Lindbergh jumped from his plane and pulled his parachute ripcord. He estimated it was about 8:40 p.m.