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flight jacket
February 17
Author: Spiff
Up, Up, and Away!

A-1, A-2, G-1, B-3, B-6, B-7, B-10, B-15 ... Sorry, but no, this is not the secret combination of the safe that will make you super rich, but don't despair, one of these days, it will fall from the sky. In the meantime, we suggest you know what is hidden behind these acronyms. Surely after that you will desire that combination even more.

All those letters accompanied by numbers are the names that someone, without breaking his brain too much, decided to give each of the aviator jackets that came along. According to that sequence, the A-1 was the first standardized jacket to be used for these purposes.

It was 1927 and the Americans had already realized that the airplane as a combat tool was going to be a big deal. However, the cockpits in these airplanes, puddle-jumpers rather, remained in open air. Imagine how cold those poor boys were.

The thing is that the A-1 was fine, but look, for a transatlantic flight... This is how our dear brave friend Charles Lindbergh-as he was nothing if not a little brave-, that with two handicaps, in 1927 he became the first man to complete a solo transatlantic flight. He did so while wrapped an A-1; a jacket which presented a knitted waistband and cuffs, which insulated the poor man from the cold and which, yes, gave him a particularly flattering fit, high, at the waist. I mean, if you're going to make a flight, it's always better to do it well, handsome, dressed as God intended. Before, people flew differently...

Chapal suede jacket

A-1 reproduction in suede by Chapal

The jacket, all in goat, sheep or horseskin, depending on the manufacturer, was characterized by having two layered pockets near the waist, having seven buttons and a knitted collar. All these details made it a unique garment among its successors, which would be totally different.

Valstar, an Italian firm that's been around for more than 100 years, or Chapal, a French firm of luxury leather jackets, have been able to reproduce the A-1 model and add a premium label to their versions. Jackets that mirror practically everything from the original and that fit perfectly into any elegant and classic wardrobe. Because yes, the A-1 is for everyone, one with a more classic cut -which does not have to mean old- and elegant.


Valstarino model by Valstar

The A-1's reign did not last long. In the year 31 it would give way to A-2, which from that same year until 43 would become the queen of the skies.

Although there had been technological advances in aviation, almost all aircraft kept the open-air cockpit. The zipper was also presented as a revolutionary invention; pilots found out about it and went on strike to get them on their jackets, or it was an initiative that came directly from the top men of the US Army. We do not know if there is a department in the army that makes decisions regarding uniforms, but the fact is that the A-2 came with a zipper and therefore the boys were less cold.

The zipper and collar -all in leather- would be what would differentiate it from its predecessor. That and what Steve McQueen would appear in later playing Virgil Hilts in The Great Escape , in an A-2 ... As if we couldn't want it any less, an iconic jacket on display. You can find originals on Ebay, although we cannnot promise that the search is easy and the purchase cheap.


Steve Mcqueen A-2 jacket

Steve McQueen in A-2 in The Great Escape

The designers continued in trial by error in looking for something a little more insulating for the men. Then came the G-1. The jacket that was originally called ANJ-3, changed its name after the War. ANJ-3 was a mouthfuil. Testing, testing, ANJ-3… Nothing.

This new jacket was presented with a cut more slim than its older sister, the A-2, and with a neck mouton.

If Mcqueen popularized the A-2 in The Great Escape, would a young Tom Cruise appear in Top Gun with a G1 full of patches. That maybe it happened a bit with the patches, but that it petó go.

Any teenager in the 90s wanted to be Maverick, drive a Kawasaki Ninja, hook up with Charlotte and do it all in a G1 jacket and 3025 Ray Bans while playing Take my breath away by Berlin. Yes, we watched it again, and although we are no longer teens, we still want the same thing. As Johan Cruyff would say, bump-goose; that scene... the rest a bit cheesy...

Tom Cruise with G-1 jacket in Top Gun

Paul Newman in a G-1 jacket

We can find original versions on platforms such as eBay or in vintage flea markets. There are also reproductions that, though they do not have the persistent smell of the pilot in question, perfectly reflect the original concept.

History has defined on numerous occasions some of the above as bombers, jackets used by American pilots to "bomb" enemies. What a crass mistake.

During this last era dominated by A-2 and G-1, the pilots in charge of this bloody task, used another type of jacket. To be exact, the B3. And the thing is that when you start bombing you must do it at high altitude, of course, and the previous jackets were not fully equipped to do so. There you had to have sheepskin at the very least and for that reason they used the B3. But this story and the rest, tomorrow. As Jack the Ripper once said, let's go in parts.

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