Category: Flight Jackets

The Bridges at Toko-Ri: William Holden’s Naval Flight Jacket

William Holden as LT Harry Brubaker in The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)

William Holden as LT Harry Brubaker in The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)

Vitals

William Holden as LT Harry Brubaker, bitter U.S. Navy Reserve aviator

Off the Korean coast, November 1952

Film: The Bridges at Toko-Ri
Release Date: December 1954
Director: Mark Robson
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Mid-century flight must be my subconscious theme heading into the new year given my last few posts about Frank Sinatra’s jet-setting style and then Sean Connery’s charcoal traveling suit in Goldfinger. Let’s at least move forward from the fuselage to the cockpit where William Holden sits at the controls of his Grumman F9F-2 Panther in The Bridges at Toko-Ri as military aviator LT Harry Brubaker, flying for the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

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Gary Cooper’s Aviator Uniform in Wings (1927)

Gary Cooper as Cadet White in Wings (1927)

Gary Cooper as Cadet White in Wings (1927)

Vitals

Gary Cooper as Cadet White, U.S. Army Aviation Section, Signal Corps aviator

Camp Kelly (San Antonio, Texas), Spring 1917

Film: Wings
Release Date: August 12, 1927
Director: William A. Wellman
Costume Design: Travis Banton & Edith Head (uncredited)

Background

Ninety years ago today, Wings won the first Academy Award for Best Picture—more accurately, the award read “Academy Award for Outstanding Picture.” Though silent movies were still the norm at the time of Wings’ release in August 1927, The Jazz Singer introduced recorded sound to film upon its release two months later, and Wings remains the only true silent film (unless you include The Artist) to take home the Best Picture prize.

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Allied Uniforms of The Great Escape

Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, Nigel Stock, and Gordon Jackson in The Great Escape (1963)

Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, Nigel Stock, and Gordon Jackson in The Great Escape (1963)

Today marks the 75th anniversary of “the great escape”, the mass breakout of allied airmen from the Luftwaffe-operated Stalag Luft III in Sagan-Silesia—now Zagan—in Poland on March 24, 1944. Of the 76 men who escaped, only three made it to freedom and 50 of the group were murdered by the Nazis in retaliation.

Film: The Great Escape
Release Date: July 4, 1963
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson

Paul Brickhill, one of the Allied officers who had worked on the various tunnels used for the escape, wrote the definitive account of prison camp life, the famous March 1944 breakout, and the subsequent fallout in The Great Escape, published in 1950.

Thirteen years later, a star-studded cast reenacted the incident in The Great Escape, a now-classic war movie that dramatized this real-life story of heroism, humor, and tragedy.

Today’s post—coinciding both with the 75th anniversary of the escape and the 89th birthday of the film’s star Steve McQueen—examines the uniforms of the Allied airmen, sorted by each major character’s surname. Continue reading

Top Gun – Maverick’s G-1 Flight Jacket

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in Top Gun (1986)

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in Top Gun (1986)

Vitals

Tom Cruise as LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, hotshot United States Naval Aviator

NAS Miramar near San Diego, Summer 1985

Film: Top Gun
Release Date: May 16, 1986
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Design: Wingate Jones, John Napolitano, Bobbie Read, and James W. Tyson

Background

On March 3, 1969 the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of aerial combat and to insure[sic] that the handful of men who graduated were the best fighter pilots in the world.

They succeeded.

Today, the Navy calls it Fighter Weapons School. The flyers call it: TOP GUN.

In 1922, the same year that the U.S. Navy commissioned its first aircraft carrier, Navy Day was established to commemorate the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, whose vast accomplishments included serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy before he ascended to the presidency. On Navy Day, it’s hard to think of a movie more associated with the United States’ naval warfare branch than Top Gun, which celebrated the talents and competition among U.S. Naval Aviators.

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Hilts in The Great Escape

Steve McQueen as the unflappable Capt. Hilts in The Great Escape

Steve McQueen as the unflappable Capt. Hilts in The Great Escape (1963).

This weekend marked the 69th anniversary of “The Great Escape”, the mass escape of allied airmen from the German-controlled Stalag Luft III in Lower Silesia. The escape, which involved the efforts of 600 men, achieved the goal of RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bushell to “make life hell for the Hun.”

In 1963, the story was filmed by the Mirisch Company as The Great Escape.

Vitals

Steve McQueen as Capt. Virgil Hilts, U.S. Army Air Forces pilot and escape artist

Sagan-Silesia (Zagan, Poland), Spring 1944

Film: The Great Escape
Release Date: July 4, 1963
Director: John Sturges
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson

Background

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve heard of The Great Escape and have hopefully seen it roughly a hundred times in your life. Continue reading