Original U.S. WWI Aero Squadron Leather Flying Helmet With French Flight Goggles - Marked For The 44th Aero Squadron

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This fantastic rare example of a genuine WWI Aviator flying helmet is made of a soft leather and is nearly identical to a known SPALDING pattern helmet, in fact it may very well have been made by Spalding but the maker label fell off. To see the Spalding marked helmet check out this link (it's about 2/3 of the way down the page and has a black cat painted on it).

Construction is brown leather chamois-lined flying helmet with buckle chinstrap, same style as a belt. Typical allied construction of the period with all snaps and buckles present; snaps are all period correct. The leather is soft and supple, truly amazing condition for over 100 years of age. There is no major damage to the helmet but unfortunately the stitching in the leather on top has come undone slightly and there is cracking in the leather. The chamois lining is in equally excellent condition and totally complete. Helmet is approximately 57/58cm ( U 7 1/4 a nice large size). Also included with the helmet is a lovely pair of French WWI flight goggles in wonderful condition, but unfortunately one of the glass lenses is cracked.

Aero Squadron fliers were initially required to purchase their own flight equipment and Spalding was the foremost supplier of such gear. The largest maker of the "Protective flight helmet" was AG Spalding Company.

There is no name on the inside, only the initials JM and 44. We believe this to be the pilot or crewmember’s name and his squadron, which would be the 44th Aero Squadron. The first predecessor of the 44th Reconnaissance squadron was established as the 44th Aero Squadron at Camp Kelly, Texas in June 1917, shortly after the United States' entry into World War I. The squadron moved to Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio in August apparently serving as a flying training unit with Standard SJ-1, Curtiss JN-4, and possibly Dayton-Wright DH-4 aircraft. When Air Service training units were reorganized as lettered field squadrons in 1918, the squadron became Squadron K (later Squadron P), Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio. The squadron was demobilized in April 1919.

Offered in overall very good condition. Genuine Great War Aviatory flying sets are very difficult to find.

The Aviation Section, Signal Corps, was the aerial warfare service of the United States from 1914 to 1918, and a direct statutory ancestor of the United States Air Force. It absorbed and replaced the Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps, and conducted the activities of Army aviation until World War I, when its statutory responsibilities were suspended for the duration of the war. The Aviation Section organized the first squadrons of the aviation arm and conducted the first military operations by United States aviation on foreign soil.

The Aviation Section, Signal Corps was created by the 63rd Congress (Public Law 143) on 18 July 1914 after earlier legislation to make the aviation service independent from the Signal Corps died in committee. From July 1914 until May 1918 the aviation section of the Signal Corps was familiarly known by the title of its administrative headquarters component at the time, seen variously as the Aeronautical Division, Air Division, Division of Military Aeronautics, and others. For historic convenience, however, the air arm is most commonly referred to by its official designation, the Aviation Section, Signal Corps (ASSC), and is the designation recognized by the United States Air Force as its predecessor for this period.

The Aviation Section began in turbulence, first as an alternative to making aviation in the Army a corps independent of the Signal Corps, then with friction between its pilots, who were all young and on temporary detail from other branches, and its leadership, who were more established Signal Corps officers and non-pilots. Despite the assignment of Lieutenant Colonel George O. Squier as chief to bring stability to Army aviation, the Signal Corps found itself wholly inadequate to the task of supporting the Army in combat after the United States entered World War I on 6 April 1917. It attempted to expand and organize a competent arm but its efforts were largely chaotic and in the spring of 1918 aviation was removed, first from the jurisdiction of the Office of the Chief of Signal where it had resided since its inception, and then from the Signal Corps altogether. The duties of the section were not resumed following World War I and it was formally disestablished by the creation of the Air Service in 1920.

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