The flying helmet worn by Charles Lindbergh during the first solo non-stop transatlantic flight between the United States and France in 1927 went on sale on 16th November at the prestigious Drouot auction rooms in Paris.
Lindbergh, a US Air Mail pilot, shot to fame after making the first solo flight across the Atlantic from New York to Paris. Aboard his custom-built, single engine, single seat, Ryan monoplane, baptised The Spirit of Saint Louis, he took off from Long Island, New York, on 20th May 1927 and landed over 33 hours - and a record-breaking 3,600 miles - later at Le Bourget airport in Paris, where he was mobbed by rapturous crowds.
According to one anecdote, the aviator’s flying helmet was pilfered after his hero’s welcome by a former mechanic, who handed it over the very same evening to the US ambassador. But the story doesn’t end there. The 25-year old pilot, nicknamed the Lone Eagle, coiffed in his familiar flying helmet, borrowed a Nieuport fighter jet to perform a mock dogfight in the sky above Paris. It was during one of his acrobatic loops that he lost the famous flying helmet. The great-grand-aunt of the current owner discovered it in her vegetable garden the next day, and it has remained in her family ever since.
Put on auction with an opening price of 40,000 Euros, the sheepskin-lined, battered brown leather helmet failed to find a taker on the first day of sale. Bids rose to 52,000 Euros but the reserve price - the minimum price acceptable to the seller - was fixed at 60,000 Euros, so it was withdrawn from sale.
Well, if you will ask the moon for a gift that fell from the sky… that’s the risk you take. Potential buyers still have another ten days or so to negotiate their private bids.