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    Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas' Helmet Flown on Chuck Yeager's First Supersonic Flight. On October 14, 1947 Cardenas, piloting a B-29 launch aircraft, released Chuck Yeager's X-1 "Glamorous Glennis" over the California desert marking the first manned supersonic flight. Robert Cardenas was a seasoned pilot long before joining the X-1 project. He was a veteran of twenty missions over the flak-filled skies of Germany. On his last mission he was shot down and despite a head wound from flak he managed to escape and evade his captors and make his way back to Allied lines. After the war Cardenas attended the Air Force's Flight Performance School and acted as chief test pilot of the bomber division. In the summer of 1947 Cardenas was selected as the Officer in Charge of the X-1 project. It was in this capacity that he participated in the historic first manned supersonic flight.
    His helmet is an early hard shell variant. Protective flight clothing technology had not kept pace with the rapid advances in jet aircraft development and WWII-era leather and cloth helmets were still the norm during this period. The helmet is constructed of molded laminated cotton impregnated with a phenolic resin. Though originally issued in white, helmets were painted at the whim of their owners and Cardenas' choice of color was gold. The helmet has an attached sun screen, likely a later modification. The avionics are present including the lead with U-93A/U plug. The helmet interior is fully padded and lined with leather. The helmet shows honest wear with some flaking to the leather combing with crazing and moderate chipping to the exterior surface.

    This helmet may be the only aviation item from this historic flight left in private hands.

    Included with the helmet is Cardenas' 1960s era survival vest. The vest is in virtually unused condition and is stenciled on the reverse "Col Cardenas". The vest is complete and all buttons and zippers are in working condition.
    To bring the story of that first supersonic flight alive the lot includes a copy of The Quest For Mach One: A First-Person Account of Breaking the Sound Barrier (New York: Penguin Studio, 1997), first edition, quarto, 142 pages.

    The consignor purchased this helmet and vest directly from General Cardenas.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2008
    25th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,608

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