05/03/2002 at 12:00 AM EDT
Erik Lindbergh, 37, arrived in France Thursday after flying across the Atlantic to repeat his grandfather's groundbreaking 1927 New York-to-Paris solo flight, reports the Associated Press. Erik Lindbergh's Lancair Columbia 300 -- called the New Spirit of St. Louis - touched down at Le Bourget airport outside of Paris shortly before 5:30 ET. The flight lasted about 17 hours. The feat re-created Charles A. Lindbergh's historic voyage that began on May 20, 1927 and made flying an acceptable means of transportation. That trip, the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, took 33.5 hours. Erik Lindbergh took off from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y., on Wednesday. "I really wanted to celebrate the 75th anniversary of grandfather's flight," Lindbergh said at a news conference shortly after landing. "I did it in half the time and ate twice as much." There was another challenge facing the grandson of the famous aviator. The younger Lindbergh said that his trip was designed to raise awareness of rheumatoid arthritis, which had disabled him for 15 years before surgery and drug treatment helped restore his movement. "I have my life back. I have my freedom," he said, according to the AP. "With that second chance, I wanted to do something special."