Lindbergh and Earhart: these pioneers of flight could bring you sky high returns

A new exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington in set to shed light on two of America's greatest aviators, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.

Both are featured in the exhibition, which attempts to focus on the personalities of the two pioneers, and it could signal a boom in the market for collectors of their memorabilia.

Lindbergh and the Spirit of St Louis
Lindbergh and the Spirit of St Louis

Lindberg's legendary non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927 shot him to overnight stardom across the world and earned him the Medal of Honour in the process. He went on to win the Pullitzer prize for his 1953 autobiography 'The Spirit of Saint Louis', and in later life found success as an inventor, explorer and social activist.

His extraordinary life left behind a wealth of memorabilia, and his status as an American national hero means it is extremely sought-after. Signed copies of his book have been known to sell for $2,000 - $3,000, and his autograph (such as this signed menu available here) is extremely popular amongst collectors.

The landing certificate he received at Le Bourget, after his  transatlantic flight sold for $32,5000 in 1993, and in 1999 a collection of Lindbergh rarities, including a five-line typewritten endorsement signed by Lindbergh, some other pieces of mail carried on the Spirit of St Louis and an autographed note on American Embassy stationery sold for $178,000.

Parts from the Spirit of St Louis

But by far the most remarkable piece of Lindberg memorabilia currently available is a collection of original parts from the Spirit of St Louis itself. The collection, including spark plugs, shock absorber bungee cords and a rocker arm from the Wright J5-C "Whirlwind" engine is the only set of parts for the historic plane ever to appear on sale.

In contrast to Lindbergh, who died at the age of 72 having told his story to world, Amelia Earhart's legacy and legend has grown due to her disappearance over the Pacific in 1937 during an attempt at a round-the-world flight.

Although only 40 years old at the time of her disappearance, she had already cemented as both a pioneer of flight and a feminist icon. She founded the 'Ninety-Nines', an organisation of female pilots that exist to this day, and has remained a talisman for female aviators and astronauts.

This rare signed photo of Earhart is available for $5,191

A scarf of Earhart's was taken into space in 1995 by Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot the space shuttle, and her personal memorabilia has always been highly-prized by collectors.

The flight goggles she wore during her historic 1932 solo trans-Atlantic flight were sold last year for an amazing $141,600, and more recently a letter written by her on the subject of trans-Atlantic flight fetched $3,125.

Her signature too is extremely popular with collectors, and rarer than Lindbergh's due to her disappearance. An autograph such as the one available here is currently available for $5,191, and is certain to appreciate in value as exhibitions continue to celebrate her achievements.

Lindbergh and Earhart are both rightly acknowledged as heroes, celebrated for their bravery and pioneering spirit, and as the years go by their legacy will remain. Their memorabilia will always be a solid investment for collectors looking to add to their portfolios, just as their exploits remain inspiring for anyone who takes to the skies.


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