ORIGINAL PARTS OF THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS FROM THE NEW YORK-PARIS FLIGHT.
Two AC Type N spark plugs, a rocker arm from the Wright J5-C "Whirlwind" engine (serial no. 7331), and three shock absorber bungee cords from the landing gear or the tail skid, mounted together in custom oak case with explanatory plaque, the case 17 by 12½ by 6 inches.
WORN PARTS REMOVED FROM THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS AFTER HER PIONEERING FLIGHT BY KENNETH LANE, ONE OF LINDBERGH'S MOST TRUSTED ENGINEERS.
Before embarking on the first solo non-stop flight from New York to Paris, Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis from San Diego via St. Louis to Curtiss Field on Long Island, landing on May 12, 1927. There to prepare the plane for its onward journey were four employees of Wright Aeronautical Company, the manufacturer of the "Whirlwind" engine used in the Spirit. They were Ed Mulligan, Kenneth Boedecker, Kenneth Lane, and Thomas Kincaid, and for several days they checked and fine-tuned the aircraft before Lindbergh's takeoff on May 20.
The Spirit landed in Paris the following night. Lindbergh then flew to Brussels, on to Croydon (south of London), then to Gosport on the south coast of England. There the plane was dismantled and packed into two crates. It was then carried, together with Lindbergh, back across the Atlantic on board USS Memphis. The Spirit was reassembled at Bolling Field, the Naval Air Station at Anacostia in Washington, DC - under the supervision of none other than Boedecker and Lane. Lindbergh flew the plane back to Roosevelt Field on Long Island, then to St. Louis, Selfridge Field in Michigan, and Ottawa, Canada. On July 4, before the start of his US tour, Lindbergh flew from Ottawa to Teterboro, NJ, where he had Lane make some alterations. During this time, he entrusted to Lane a kit bag of survival equipment that had been on board since the New York-Paris flight, on the basis that it would not be needed on the US tour and would be safe from souvenir hunters at Lane's home in Ridgefield, NJ. He planned to retrieve it after the tour. Lane later explained that it was then that he removed the present parts, amongst others - the shock absorber cords having been strained by the heavy fuel load of the transatlantic flight, and the spark plugs needing replacement before an almost year-long tour.
The survival kit and parts remained with Lane until he was interviewed by the Spirit of St. Louis historian Ev Cassagneres, in 1973. Cassagneres sent photographs of the survival kit artifacts to Lindbergh, with whom he was already in contact, and asked for his comments. Lindbergh replied: "Item 6 is ... identical with the inflatable seat-cushion I used in the Spirit of St. Louis on the flights from San Diego to Paris. All items in this photograph are almost certainly items that I carried on these flights."
Cassagneres then negotiated the donation of the survival kit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where they are on display (inventory no. A19790147000, etc., "Gift of Kenneth M. Lane and Everett Cassagneres"). The Minnesota Historical Society's Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site was gifted a spark plug, a shock cord, and a faring strip fragment, which remain there. A number of items were also sent to the San Diego Aerospace Museum, but are believed to have been destroyed in a fire.
The present items represent what must surely be the only pieces of the Spirit of St. Louis from her transatlantic flight ever to come to market. Three small American flags carried on the flight on behalf of Wright Aeronautical have been sold at auction within the last decade, but we have traced no actual parts.
Provenance: Kenneth Lane, engineer at Wright Aeronautical; Ev Cassagneres, pre-eminent expert on the Spirit of St. Louis and friend of Lindbergh in the last five years of his life.