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The Warren Safety Helmet Test

Written by: George Chittenden : 08 Mar 2020

This rather comical photo was taken in 1912, and contrary to popular belief on the internet it isn’t a man testing a new prototype of American Football helmet by bashing his head against a wall. The truth is actually more interesting than the myth when it comes to this image. In actual fact the man is British inventor W.T. Warren, and the image is of him leaping against a hanger wall at the flying school of William Hugh Ewen, at Hendon in the UK.

His invention, the Warren Safety Helmet was a spring-equipped pilot safety helmet, which was padded with horsehair. It was designed to absorb an impact as head injuries were the leading cause of death in flight accidents at the time. The helmet saw considerable use during World War I and an example of Warren’s invention can be found in the Imperial War Museum.

The other men in the photo are the flying school’s owner William Hugh Ewen, in the middle, on the left stands his chief pilot Lewis Turner and the man on the right was named A. M. Ramsey. The photograph was published in Aviation magazine Flight on 6th April 1912.

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