The early days of aviation between 1920 and 1939, often called Aviation's "Golden Age", was an exciting time for many aspiring pilots. Rapid technological advances in the aeroplane during WWI proved that it wasn't a novelty as thought before the war, but was here to stay. Many young pilots seasoned from overseas combat looked for ways stateside to make some kind of living in aviation. With the vast surplus of military aircraft after the war, these young aviators could purchase a new Curtis Jenny biplane for less that $400 and take to the skies. Thus, the Barnstormer was born, and was worn by a kind of gypsy pilot who traveled from small town to town performing aerobatics at county fairs and giving rides to willing passengers. Remember that this is the early 1920's, the aeroplane was new, and people looked to the sky when they heard an engine's drone overhead. Not like today where it's all taken for granted. While there was money to be made, much of it went into their ships. Landing gear, tires, fabric and propellers all took a beating on America's rough farmland that was the pilot's home. Having the honor of flying my own as well as other vintage aircraft in the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome's collection in Upstate New York during weekend summer air shows, it is only fitting to wear the proper attire while flying these vintage aeroplanes. Being a stickler for accuracy, I reviewed pictures of the period to get an insight into what they wore. If a visitor to our air show takes photos of you flying in a vintage biplane from 20's, 30's or perhaps in a WWI fighter, your appearance should be as accurate as the aeroplane you're flying. Most pilots' back then lived in the clothes they had. Much of their wardrobe came from a variation of their military days in France. Jodhpurs, boots (often Cavalry riding boots), helmet, goggles, silk scarf and of course the ever popular and well worn leather flying jacket were part of the every day uniform for a Barnstorming pilot. He made a dashing hero to many. The early flying jackets like the A-1 had one main distinction. Buttons. Zippers replaced them in later designs like the famous A-2 jacket. The A-1 also fit snugger than most jackets today. In colder weather, photos show pilots wearing there A-1's under a long leather-flying coat. They really didn't leave home without it! The A-1's concept began in 1922 and was perfected in 1925 for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Aviation greats like Jimmy Doolittle, Chennault and Hollywood's famous Motion Picture Stunt Pilots just to name a few all wore the A-1 style or variations of it. Early catalogs from Spalding, Willis and Geiger, and Abercrombie and Fitch show typical styles of the typical aviator flying jacket. Another popular style is the early version of some of today's motorcycle jackets. In an effort to offer more chest protection from the biting cold the pilots faced at high altitudes, a "tunic styled" jacket was offered. Instead of buttoning straight down the center, the front buttons sloped at an angle ending under or next to the right collar. You can see an example of this only with a zipper front in the 1938 Clark Gable film "Test Pilot". Today the general public would refer to this style as the "Rocketeer" jacket. Made famous by the film of the same name. By 1927 when Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, aviation enthusiasm exploded. This one spectacular feat was the spark plug that jump started the aviation industry between the Wars. Hollywood took advantage too. Movies like Wings, (the first film to win an Academy Award), Hell's Angels, and Dawn Patrol to name but a few all burst upon the silver screen. And the movie going public couldn't get enough. There is no question that throughout the century, motion pictures have had an enormous influence on fashion. The so-called Bomber or Flying Jacket was "rediscovered" thanks to aviation and adventure movies. Most recently films such as The Great Waldo Pepper, The Rocketeer, The Right Stuff, Memphis Belle and the Indian Jones series, just to name a few have all played a large roll in keeping the leather flying jacket a very marketable product. The flying jacket in its many styles is synonymous with Americana. Whether you're interest lies with those early Barnstormers, the Famous Flying Tigers or breaking the sound barrier in The Right Stuff, putting one on is as close as one will come to the real thing. But that makes the dream that much more real.
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Beyond reproach Review by Randall S. Beck
My new barnstormer jacket is wonderful. The fit and finish of this jacket is beyond reproach. Thanks.
(Posted on 7/27/10)
The best leather jacket I own Review by Paul Cuzzolino
I ordered the Barnstormer jacket, originally in black. Flightjacket.com not only e-mailed me, but called, saying I should try a stock brown, for sizing etc. Well, when I received the brown Barnstormer jacket, I liked it so much I bought a black one too! I was amazed at the quality of the leather and workmanship. They are without a doubt, the nicest leather jackets I own! Iâ€™m 110% satisfied with the Flightjacket.com products and staff. (Posted on 7/27/10)
Items 11 to 12 of 12 total
- The Best Review by E. Greene
- I can't say enough good things about this jacket or the personal attention given to my order. It's my favorite jacket and I wouldn't think of buying one from any other company. Thanks! (Posted on 2/19/14)
- Very nice Review by KG1
- I normally wear a 42L and found that the off the rack "large" fits well. The color of mine is a darker brown than the russert color that is pictured. It is a great jacket that will get many compliments. (Posted on 2/10/14)
- Excellent Review by 04Bonneville
I received my Barnstormer a few weeks ago and have been very pleased. I usually wear a XL Tall so I knew I would need a custom order. I contacted Shaul and he recommended I try a XXL for sizing which I did. I sent back my preferred measurements and specs and the new jacket came back just as ordered. It makes a nice light weight motorcycle jacket which was my original intention but I’ll definitely be wearing this around town as well.
Would definitely order another jacket when the time comes. Maybe the same jacket with heavy black horsehide.
(Posted on 11/8/13)