|by Bill Bawden, PRO|
20 November 2007
Fitting Out the Fliers
The recent meeting of the AirCrew Association included an illustrated talk by Dr Graham Rood of the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) on the history of aircrew flying clothing.
The FAST Museum (open free to the public at weekends, www.farnboroughairsciences.org.uk) includes exhibits of a wide variety aircraft and aviation equipment and Dr Rood showed his audience at Fairoaks some examples and many photographic slides of the clothing worn by aircrews over the years. These ranged from the tweed cap reversed with a pair of goggles sported by the first pilots to fly at Farnborough in 1908 through to the space-age anti-radiation suits and highly sophisticated helmets issued to those now operating at great speeds and altitudes.
Between these extremes came a catalogue of apparel ranging from the nostalgic and familiar to the bizarre. The leather coats and helmets of the First World war gave way to the oxygen masks and Mae Wests of the Second which in turn were replaced by the g-suits and pressure-breathing equipment required as aircraft performance improved in more recent times.
Garments designed, not always wholly successfully, to incorporate armour, protect from cold at high levels and heat in tropical conditions, were a diverting feature of the lecture.
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