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Thread: Leather Flying Jackets...

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    RickM's Avatar
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    Default Leather Flying Jackets...

    I'm not a collector or a fanatic, but I do admire the work of John Chapman of Goodwear Leather in Seattle. I have a few original WW2-era flying jackets; My dad's A-2, (56th fighter squadron, ETO) and My Uncle's G-1, (Corsairs off the USS Lake Champlain in Korea) and another early 60's PX G-1. I am familiar with the flight jacket "culture" and know a bit about what makes a good jacket vs. a poor one. Chapman makes excellent garments using exact patterns from period suppliers. He is essentially a one-man shop with a multi-year backlog, and his work ethic, pricing eithic, and thoughts about Growth..as well as the limits of being a lone craftsman...echo the opinions of many on the forum.

    Good Wear Leather Coat Company — Welcome!



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    sneedle3 is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Thumbs-up for the G-1, although my circa-1991 issue sucker needs some work on the wrists, which have started to unravel. ...I remember being issued that sucker and refusing to wear it at first as a flight student, spooked that it would vex me. 21 years later; I'm still flying Navy Air and still wearing it.

    Thanks for posting. Winter approaches; time to pull it out of the closet.
    Scott

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    I have a custom fitted Perrone jacket. Still not cold enough to bring it to work. Anyway, I have mixed emotions about wearing such jackets in civilian flying. But it is nice at O'dark :30 in Syracuse or Milwaukee on January 18th and you're just starting the APU and it takes a couple minutes to make heat and it is drafty as hell in the airplane before the man door is closed.

    Mine is US made and is ridiculous quality and will last until long after I've quit flying.

    No pics at the moment because I'm on the iPad and I have no idea how to post pics from this device.

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    busdriver1959 is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Nothing wrong with a leather flying jacket for civilian flying. It can be a nod to the airmail pilots and barnstormers of many years ago. It doesn't have to mean you are Val Kilmer in the SNL skit " Iceman, the Later Years" . I have flown with guys that are just like that though. Leather works. It's long lasting, good looking and stops the wind.

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    This is a small pic of my flying jacket. I'm (finally) home and took a pic. It was newly approved as a uniform piece last year by my company after years of wrangling over the issue of who pays for it. I bought the effer for the reasons stated two posts above. Cold at the out stations. I suppose that is the justification because I don't really fly outside like mail flyers of old and I haven't flown anything approaching barnstorming in 15 years and then it was not on purpose.... and I barely cheated death each time. I do hope to show up for Halloween with a leather flying helmet but I'm not quite senior enough to not get chatted with by the Chief Pilot. Yet. That day is coming soon though.

    My hat is also required and US made and it is not pictured. But I talked to the dude who makes them and I sort of like it and hate it at the same time.

    Looking for new pants because my current uniform vendor has supposedly outsourced to China and for the uniform that's a non-MELable item. Gotta be US sourced. I wish my airplane was, but it's Canadian, so it'll pass. ;-)
    leather.jpg

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    A followup note on those old flying jackets I have; As a non-pilot in general...and specifically not an ex-military pilot, I would not be caught dead wearing the two jackets that actually saw service anywhere where there's even a remote chance of running into actual pilots/aviators. My Uncle's old USN G-1 fits me fine. I could only imagine being in a bar and running into a pack of naval aviators. Seems like the scorn and ridicule would come fast and thick. My Dad's A-2 is just too old to risk actually wearing anywhere. I did take it to a 56th FG reunion in Farmingdale, NY a few years ago..and met the guy that my dad flew wing for. That was cool. My old man had lots of pictures and other memorabilia from the war...it provided a fascinating glimpse of airbase life "Somewhere in England", but he never ever would talk about the whole experience very much.

    The other G-1 that I have was a PX jacket given in trade, ("Cumshaw", in old Navy slang) for some favors or something that the guy I bought it from did for some non-aviator friend of his. I do wear that one sometimes...it's actually a pretty nice motorcyling jacket. It's pretty old - 40+ years - but still intact and is incredibly well-made, as is my Uncle's G-1. The Navy didn't skimp.

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    busdriver1959 is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    I believe you're over thinking it. I wouldn't recommend hanging out in the bar just outside the base and showing everybody how your right hand shot down your left hand. However, I think it's cool that you can wear the jackets that your dad and uncle wore. As long as the jackets are legit and you have a real tie to them you should be able to wear them anywhere you want. And just to confuse things, my company flight jacket isn't even a flight jacket. It's a motorcycle cop jacket.

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    RickM's Avatar
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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by busdriver1959 View Post
    I believe you're over thinking it. I wouldn't recommend hanging out in the bar just outside the base and showing everybody how your right hand shot down your left hand. However, I think it's cool that you can wear the jackets that your dad and uncle wore. As long as the jackets are legit and you have a real tie to them you should be able to wear them anywhere you want. And just to confuse things, my company flight jacket isn't even a flight jacket. It's a motorcycle cop jacket.
    I hear ya'. It's not a big deal. It's sorta' the same reason I won't wear any bike kit w/ WC stripes, or the kit of an active pro team, ever. Like the sign I saw in the little store in Cabot, Vt. said; "There's no real reason for it...it's just our policy"

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    I purchased this bomber jacket from LL Bean about 15 years ago, when they were US made, but I really have not used it as it's too warm if that makes sense. It's lined with a light layer of Thinsulate and probably would be more useful in NE or the upper Midwest. I should really just sell it as this thread made me look to see if I still had it.

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    I have the San Diego Leather Company A2 model. Their cut is not made with a cyclist in mind. I need to eat more In-N-Out or send it back and get the "standard slim" fit done to it. The shoulders and arms are okay, so I'm pretty sure I ordered the right size.

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by miwuksurfer View Post
    I have the San Diego Leather Company A2 model. Their cut is not made with a cyclist in mind. I need to eat more In-N-Out or send it back and get the "standard slim" fit done to it. The shoulders and arms are okay, so I'm pretty sure I ordered the right size.
    Civilian versions tend to be blousy. Real, period A2's are slim and a little on the skimpy side. The average size of an aircrewman in 1942 was 140lbs, 5' 8" tall. with a 38 chest. Sounds like a pretty good build for cycling, too!

    At 6' 1" tall and 160 lbs. my old man was able to fly only because he flew the P-47 Thunderbolt...an unusually roomy cockpit. And..he was a 90-Day Wonder. You can read about what that means..but it wasn't pretty. Think; Cannon Fodder.

    My Uncle was a Navy pilot and really fit the mold. When he passed away at 91 years old, he still had a 31-inch waist and was as lean as a fencepole.

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by chancerider View Post

    At 6' 1" tall and 160 lbs. my old man was able to fly only because he flew the P-47 Thunderbolt...an unusually roomy cockpit. And..he was a 90-Day Wonder. You can read about what that means..but it wasn't pretty. .
    A lot of people died in the early days of military aviation training. And when I say "a lot" I mean it. Not a few. More than hundreds. It was not for the pretty boy club or anything of the sort. It was a deadly business and they wore sheepskin lined leather jackets because the training survivors rode in B-17s, unpressurized and unheated (with O2 masks) over Europe at 35000 feet. It was not a luxury ride like it is today. Hence my reluctance to wear mine. The aviators of that era have my awe and respect and the jackets were not a fashion statement but a piece of survival equipment. When I am cold it's minor and I'm not being shot at and I will never need a parachute. Those missions were commanded by 23 year olds with giant stones. That's all.

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by Saab2000 View Post
    Those missions were commanded by 23 year olds with giant stones. That's all.
    Pretty cool that a thread about leather jackets can provide some really interesting stories/information/history/etc. My family's service was Army, with no pilots (or jackets) in the bunch, but plenty of interesting mementos left behind. Grandpa was an OCS grad, but I hadn't heard the term 90-day wonder until this thread.

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Strongin View Post
    Pretty cool that a thread about leather jackets can provide some really interesting stories/information/history/etc. My family's service was Army, with no pilots (or jackets) in the bunch, but plenty of interesting mementos left behind. Grandpa was an OCS grad, but I hadn't heard the term 90-day wonder until this thread.
    More so then just being pushed through and being made a 2nd Lieutenant, the 90-day wonder moniker was applicable to my old man because he was in the first waves of replacement pilots...hurried through flight school and thrown into service because the first generation of pilots had had their ranks thinned, (like Saab said..mortality rates were brutal) and the U.S. was stepping up daylight bombing operations and had just begun to realize that the bombers needed fighter escort. Worse then the aerial combat, (brief, infrequent, but very intense, my dad said..) was the ground attack operations, my dad said. Strafing trains, railyards, and the worst; troops on the ground... was both dangerous and horrifying to do. Little wonder he didn't talk much about it..and he never flew after the war. Even for airline travel during his business career, he always had about 5 VO and waters under the belt..and he always carried his WW2 dogtags for luck.

    Crikey..I don't even know how the commercial guys like Saab do it every day..I'd be scared pissless. Pilots always sound so blase'..but all you need is one time where you gotta land that damn thing in the Hudson, and well....Shit.

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by chancerider View Post
    Little wonder he didn't talk much about it..
    I've seen the mementos, but never got the story behind them. I'd ask as a kid, but he didn't want to talk and I was too young to comprehend. He had some amazing photos that he took too, Nazis surrendering in trenches and stuff like that, but still the "stories" were brief. But get that man talking about how he met my grandmother or Cadillacs, and you'd know he wasn't one to avoid telling stories. I'm sure as little as he wanted me to hear about his experiences, he wanted to talk about it even less. Thanks for sharing, folks, this thread is bringing up some old memories.

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    Bruce Day is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    I have my leather A2 as issued to me in the 80's when the USAF began reissuing these jackets. Its slim, but at 65 years old and 5'9" 165lbs, still fits fine. Biking and hiking keep the weight down. I flew in 8th, 4th and 15th Air Force units, the 8th during the Vietnam war, the 4th during the Gulf wars.

    More aircrewmen were killed from the 8th Air Force ( Bomber Command) in WWII than there were Marines and Navy personnel killed in the war. This is not to denigrate the Navy or Marines, just to point out the significant losses of the 8th. The figures: 6000 heavy bombers lost, 2500 remained at the end of the war; 30,000 KIA or missing in action, another 30,000 POWs; an aircrewman assigned to the 8th had only a one in three chance of completing his tour. Fighter losses were almost as significant.

    The high loss rate continued through the Vietnam War. Although the 8th Air Force heavy bomber units ( B-52's) had a high rate of survival, some of the fighter units did not. The F-105 fighter/bomber units had a 40% return rate among pilots and a 110% loss rate for assigned aircraft. I was unable to get life insurance other than GI life insurance which was capped at $50,000.

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by rwsaunders View Post
    I purchased this bomber jacket from LL Bean about 15 years ago, when they were US made, but I really have not used it as it's too warm if that makes sense. It's lined with a light layer of Thinsulate and probably would be more useful in NE or the upper Midwest. I should really just sell it as this thread made me look to see if I still had it.
    I had this exact same jacket, until my father borrowed it on a trip to Germany years ago. Unfortunately, he ended up leaving it in the back seat of his rental car and after realizing it, he went back but it was GONE! I loved this jacket and thought it was ideal for CT autumns & winters. My dad felt awful about losing it and offered to buy me another. At the time, I was more interested in a nice down jacket, so went that route instead. However, a few years later I was really jonesin' for another leather bomber and dad, hearing this news, expressed his eagerness to purchase for me. This time I chose the other model Bean offered - the one w/the mouton collar and lamb shearling lining. I really like it but it is probably warmer yet than the Thinsulate model, especially under the arms, and it weighs a ton! Although I love the cozy mouton collar, I kinda wish I stil had my original Thinsulate insulated model. I just checked mine and it was made in Turkey (bet my original, like yours, was USA made). What size is yours - maybe I'd be willing to take it off your hands? :)

    Thanks,
    -Jeff

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    I've got a g1 that I obviously bought used in the 80's. I was told at the time it was korea or Vietnam Vintage. It's got the correct label and USN stampings. I should check more into it. It barely fits but would be perfect if I lost anotther 10 lbs. I didn't care about any historical value when I bought it, I just thought it was the coolest thing ever to have a special pocket inside to hold a .45 acp.
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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    I've got a g1 that I obviously bought used in the 80's. I was told at the time it was korea or Vietnam Vintage. It's got the correct label and USN stampings. I should check more into it. It barely fits but would be perfect if I lost anotther 10 lbs. I didn't care about any historical value when I bought it, I just thought it was the coolest thing ever to have a special pocket inside to hold a .45 acp.
    never be the man to fit into a very special army huey chopper pilot issue left to me from a pal, friend and bravest man i have ever know --- cwo yancey yager, brought use back so many times from hell..

    his huey, his crew -- his only family..,

    ronnie

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    Default Re: Leather Flying Jackets...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    I've got a g1 that I obviously bought used in the 80's. I was told at the time it was korea or Vietnam Vintage. It's got the correct label and USN stampings. I should check more into it. It barely fits but would be perfect if I lost anotther 10 lbs. I didn't care about any historical value when I bought it, I just thought it was the coolest thing ever to have a special pocket inside to hold a .45 acp.
    Ooooh, I hate to disapppoint you..but that inside pocket was originally designed for the E6B Time/Distance calculation tool. E6B - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The great myth is that it was a "pistol pocket", and it may well have been used as such..although Navy pilots in WW2/Korea were issued shoulder holsters. And..the Navy didn't issue the .45..pilots were issued a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson model 10's. Big differences in the G-1 from Korea and the 'Nam era...but it was always a cool jacket IMHO. If you post the contents of the manufacters label including the conmtract number..I can pass it to folks who can tell you exactly when it made and issued.



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