Might one Amelia Earhart mystery be solved? A leather helmet sold at auction in February. According to auction officials, the headpiece went to an anonymous bidder for a sky-high $825,000. Why? It once belonged to celebrated aviatrix Amelia Earhart.
Earhart was just a passenger in June 1928 when she became the first woman on board a plane crossing the Atlantic. Photos shot before and after the flight show her sporting a jaunty leather helmet or flight cap.
Earhart wore the same helmet the following year in the Women’s National Air Derby, an all-female race from Santa Monica, California, to Cleveland, Ohio. Thousands of spectators greeted Earhart when she landed her single-engine plane. Her helmet vanished in the crush of people.
In 1937, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during a daring attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Earhart’s pioneering spirit has made her one of the most celebrated pilots of all time.
After Earhart’s disappearance, the helmet seemed lost forever.
Anthony Twiggs knew exactly where it was. He recounts a story that he’d no doubt heard often from his mother, Ellie:
In 1929, young Ellie Brookhart and a group of school friends were in the Cleveland crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of Earhart. Ellie related that a boy who liked her found Earhart’s leather helmet on the ground and gave it to her.
Twiggs inherited the helmet after his mother’s death more than 20 years ago. He repeatedly tried to prove that the flight cap he received from his mother was Earhart’s. Yet experts always questioned his story.
The doubts vanished last fall. Twiggs authenticated the helmet with John Robinson of Resolution Photomatch, a leader in photo authentication. According to Robinson, Twiggs’ helmet matches perfectly the creasing and worn-out patches of Earhart’s as seen in photos taken before and after her 1928 flight.
Heritage Auctions accepted the Earhart helmet as genuine. The group expected it to bring upwards of $80,000. To everyone’s surprise, the object plucked from the dirt fetched 10 times that.
“My mother kept it for Amelia. She thought it was the neatest thing,” Twiggs says. In fact, it seems Ellie never even mentioned the gift giver’s name. “He didn’t impress her that much, but the helmet did.”
Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be. — Matthew 6:19-21
Why? God created humans to be amazed at heroic feats and to enjoy possessing objects that remind us of those achievements. But we must take caution against attaching too much significance to earthly treasures.