Leather Jacket Boys

We began to see a serious ‘pilot-retention’ problem in the USAF in the early ’80’s.  The airlines were hiring, and we were between “hot” wars.  With the Vietnam War over, we saw a lot of “warriors” leave the service, back-filled by “careerists.”  Cute, little “college boys.”

One of the solutions they came up with was to issue new leather flight jackets to pilots.  Why they thought a spiffy, new leather jacket would make any difference in career retention – well, I wouldn’t know?  But I don’t think it did…

Anyway, the only list I was Number 1 on (other than a couple Shit-Lists over my career) was the leather jacket list at Randolph!  It was based on time on station, and in 1987 I had 5 years at Randolph as an aviator.  I was Number 1!

I was more or less ‘ambivalent’ toward the whole thing at first.  I was on my way out… However, when I went over to Supply and saw what they gave me, I was disappointed!

The jacket looked exactly like something you would expect to see on some “Command Queer” on a runway in New Your City, walking down a fashion runway!  It was ‘fashionable’ – spiffy and sharp looking.  Nothing like you would expect to see on an aviator.  But it wasn’t very functional.

They took away the side pockets from the original A2 leather jackets.  This was always a point of contention while I was on active duty – guys walking around with their hands in their jackets.  Not professional.  Then the ‘gussets’ were left off the jackets.  Gussets aren’t ‘spiffy.’

When I tried mine on, it sure ‘looked good,’ but it felt uncomfortable.  When I tried to reach forward with an arm, like I would in the cockpit, it pulled my other arm back.  But then, little did that matter as we were not allowed to wear them while flying at first, because they had not been approved by another Command Queer as “fire resistant.”  YGBSM!  I just took mine home, and tossed it in the drawer – never wore it.  Eventually I just gave it to my daughter…

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