DescriptionEddie Rickenbacker: World War I Leather Flight Helmet and Signed Book. The leather flight helmet has the badge of the 94th Aero Squadron painted on the front. The helmet was a gift from Rickenbacker to a long-time friend, Dr. John Lattimer. With the helmet is a personally inscribed copy of Rickenacker's book, From Father to Son, The Letters of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker to His Son William, from Boyhood to Manhood. The book is signed by both William and Eddie Rickenbacker and inscribed, "With my best wished to our good friend John K Lattimer M.D. / Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker 1971". Included is a signed letter from Dr. Lattimer's daughter authenticating that Rickenbacker gave the helmet to her father. The helmet is wool lined. It shows normal wear with some sweat staining and light verdigris at the buckle, grommets, and snaps. Both the helmet and book are in very fine condition. The helmet is perhaps the finest World War One aviation relic ever offered.
Rickenbacker, the son of Swiss immigrants, was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1890. Even as a child, he was fascinated with machinery. He aggressively pursued any chance of involvement with automobiles. Rickenbacker found work at the Columbus Buggy Company and later as a driver for the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company. In 1914, Eddie Rickenbacker drove a "Duesy" to finish in 10th place at the Indianapolis 500.
By the outbreak of the World War in August 1914 Rickenbacker was well known in the United States. When the United States finally entered the war in April 1917, Rickenbacker was one of the first American serviceman to arrive in France. He used the contacts he made as a racer to get a position as engineering officer in a flight-training facility at Issoudun, where he practiced flying during his free time. Rickenbacker demonstrated his ability as a pilot and was assigned to America's second air-combat squadron, the 94th Aero Squadron, informally known as the 'Hat-in-the-Ring' Squadron. He initially flew the Nieuport 28 , sometimes without weaponry, alongside French pilots. The 94th periodically faced Germany's legendary Flying Circus, led by the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. On April 29, 1918, Rickenbacker shot down his first plane. In May 1918, Rickenbacker was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for shooting down five German airplanes. On September 24, 1918, he was named commander of the squadron, and on the following day, he shot down two more German planes, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Rickenbacker's 26 victories constituted an American record that stood until World War II.
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