Tagged: Pilot Uniform

Battle of Britain: Robert Shaw as Squadron Leader Skipper

Robert Shaw as RAF Squadron Leader "Skipper" in Battle of Britain (1969)

Robert Shaw as RAF Squadron Leader “Skipper” in Battle of Britain (1969)

Vitals

Robert Shaw as “Skipper”, RAF Squadron Leader

England, Summer to Fall 1940

Film: Battle of Britain
Release Date: September 15, 1969
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Credit: Bert Henrikson

Background

Although the battle was waged for more than three months in 1940 over British airspace, September 15 has been established as Battle of Britain Day in recognition of the No. 11 Group RAF repelling two waves of German attacks on London. The Germans had instigated their air and sea blockade earlier that summer, followed by Luftwaffe air raids that started with ports and shipping centers, eventually moving further inland to airfields, factories, and ultimately civilian areas. Hitler had intended to gain air superiority over England prior to an invasion dubbed Operation Sea Lion, but a strong national defense from the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy successfully routed the Luftwaffe and prevented this full-scale invasion of the United Kingdom.

This British victory was considered an early turning point in favor of the Allies during World War II that inspired Winston Churchill to famously declare: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

On the 29th anniversary of this famous British defense against Germany in the skies over London, the United Artists war epic Battle of Britain with a star-studded cast including Sir Laurence Olivier, Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Christopher Plummer, and Robert Shaw. The latter portrays a talented and brash Squadron Leader, said to be inspired by South African fighter ace Sailor Malan, commander of No. 74 Squadron RAF during the actual Battle of Britain.

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Hendley in The Great Escape

James Garner as Flight Lieutenant Hendley in The Great Escape (1963)

James Garner as Flight Lieutenant Hendley in The Great Escape (1963)

Vitals

James Garner as Robert Hendley, American-born RAF Flight Lieutenant and “scrounger”

Sagan-Silesia (Zagan, Poland), Spring 1944

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

Background

Steve McQueen’s daring Captain Hilts may get all the glory of The Great Escape‘s legacy, but James Garner’s affable and resourceful “scrounger” Hendley remains one of my favorite characters from any war movie.

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Sidney Reilly Goes Undercover in Russia

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in the seventh episode of Reilly: Ace of Spies.

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in the seventh episode of Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983).

Vitals

Sam Neill as Capt. Sidney Reilly, British secret service agent and Canadian Royal Flying Corps airman

Russia, Spring 1918

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “Gambit” (Episode 7)
Air Date: October 12, 1983
Director: Jim Goddard
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

The mini-series Reilly: Ace of Spies, being based on Sidney Reilly’s own exaggerated account of his life, certainly stretches the truth – if not downright fictionalizes – many parts of Reilly’s story. However, the show does a fine job of serializing Reilly’s most important and life-altering adventure: the attempted overthrow of the Bolshevik government. Continue reading

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

Catch Me If You Can – Pan Am Uniform

Need a costume this weekend for Halloween that’s identifiable but still looks good? James Bond and Don Draper are good go-tos, but those “costumes” can also be worn on a day to day basis. For an original and sharp 60s-style Halloween costume, consider a Pan Am uniform reminiscent of Frank Abagnale’s co-pilot outfit in Catch Me If You Can.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can (2002).

Vitals

Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, Jr., international teenage con man posing as Pan Am pilot Frank Black, aka Frank Taylor, aka Frank Roberts

Pretty much anywhere in the world, notably New York, Miami, and France, 1960s

Film: Catch Me If You Can
Release Date: December 25, 2002
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres

Background

By the time he was 19, Frank Abagnale, Jr., had amassed millions of dollars posing as a college teaching assistant, a lawyer, a doctor, and – most notably – a Pan Am co-pilot.

Choosing to imitate a pilot in order to fly around the world for free, Abagnale called Pan Am to ask for a “replacement” uniform, decorated it with a forced FAA pilot’s license, and flew over 1,000,000 miles on over 250 flights in 2 years. After flying to 26 countries with travel, lodging, and food all expensed to Pan Am, Abagnale was captured in Europe. Continue reading