"Born in America, raised in the skies" Fall 2018 saw the launch of Cockpit USA's collaboration with Allen Edmonds and the "Artisans of Freedom" project. Shot at the American Airpower Museum, watch The Cockpit USA story.
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The Continental US Navy was founded in Philadelphia on October 13th, 1775 when the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution creating one of the cornerstones for the expansion of the United States into a global power. But it is the town of Whitehall in New York State, a town founded by a British Army Captain in 1759, that claims the honor of creating the first fighting ships known as the Valcour fleet. These ships sailed on Lake Champlain under the direction of General Arnold against the British Navy. Although they did not win the fight in 1776, the fleet stopped the British Naval efforts to invade the northern colonies via Lake Champlain, a major trading route southward from British controlled Canada.
Generally recognized as one of the first heroes of our Continental Navy was a Scotsman named John Paul, who cleverly later added the “Jones” to his name in order to avoid un-pleasantries in England due to bad behavior. Nevertheless, John Paul Jones became a notable naval hero of the American Revolution wreaking havoc on the British Royal Navy with his small fleet of ships operating in European waters ultimately contributing to the American victory.
Fast forward to our present-day Navy, whose backbone of might is based on aircraft carriers, airpower, nuclear submarines, and a relatively small fleet of surface warfare ships equipped with enough sophisticated power to “encourage” entire unfriendly nations into diplomatic agreements. The aircraft carrier became preeminent in WWII from 1942 to 1945 and the Navy combat pilots, deck crews and seaman became our heroes for generations.
The Navy pilots flew with leather flight jackets since the late 1920s as well as Bedford cord cotton flight jackets. The G-1 iconic flight jacket, originally called the M-422, was part of the pilot’s uniform since the mid- 1930s. Their leather jackets were decorated with squadron emblems and hand painted images, classically portrayed in many movies including the iconic1986 feature film “Top Gun” which became a worldwide symbol of carrier-based air power: Navy Jets, sailors, and pilots who flew in harm’s way recalling another era of the adventurous events of the sailing ships in combat during the American Revolution.
The symbol of the legendary quality of iron men and wooden ships translated into the nuclear-powered aircraft carriers of today along with the nostalgic and historic US Navy Pilot’s leather flight jacket has transcended USN history into an important and sought-after element of American culture. With guns, missiles, and lasers from high seas to high skies, the US Navy has a heck of a 243-year legacy.
Today, September 18th, 2018 we celebrate the 71st birthday of the United States Air Force. The Air Force traces its history back to 1907 when it became a division of the U.S Army Signal Corps just 4 years after the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, NC by the aviation pioneers the Wright Brothers. First tested in combat during WWI, matured during the years between the World Wars, and dominating the skies in combat during WWII and coming into its own as the U.S Army Air Corps, and in 1941 renamed the U.S Army Air Force during WWII the independent Air Force concept took shape.
In the aftermath of World War Two, as aviation technology advanced rapidly into the jet age proponents of an independent service branch were heard loud and clear. As a function of the National Security of 1947 the U.S Air Force was born on September 18th of that year and would become what could be considered the first line of defense against the growing Soviet Threat of the post-war years, that would become known as the Cold War. Since its birth 71 years ago the USAF has dominated the skies over our adversaries and has held the edge of Air Superiority over our nations, and allies’ foes through its dedicated and skilled airmen, and it’s always evolving and ground-breaking technological advances.
On this occasion, we salute all the men and women who have served our nation as Airmen past and present as well as all those who have defended our nation through air dominance for 71 years. We are also very proud to have supported our airmen for over 35 years supplying high quality, made in the USA flight apparel including flight jackets, flight suits, and especially proud to have been a part of bringing back the A-2 flight jacket tradition to aircrews in 1987 on the occasion of the 40th birthday of the United States Air Force.
Happy 71st Birthday USAF!
To learn more about our nation’s Air Force go to www.af.mil and see first-hand the amazing job our Airmen do every day, both at home and abroad.
Today on this 100th anniversary of Great Britain’s Royal Air Force Cockpit USA commemorates the bravery and history our country’s strongest ally in Europe. Our RAF sheepskin bomber jacket represents the epitome of English heroism during WWII. Worn over London skies in the summer of 1940 by English fighter pilots flying Spitfire and Hurricane fighters in air battles against Nazi air forces, this bomber jacket provided the warmth and freedom of movement needed during combat.
Pilots in the RAF tailored their jackets to shear down the wool to allow more freedom of movement. We at Cockpit USA have introduced a short sheared sheepskin version light enough to wear with a sweater or other layering pieces. We also commemorate the efforts of the RAF by showcasing a beautiful R.A.F belt buckle inspired by the British crown insignia. On this anniversary Cockpit USA introduces our new "RAF Eagle Squadron Tee" which pays respect to the three fighter squadrons of the Royal Air Force formed with volunteer pilots from the United States. We honor the achievements of one of the most important military units ever assembled and focus on the its development by looking back at its early years of service during WWI and WWII.
The British Royal Air Force was formed on April 1, 1918 as an integration of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). The development of British flight engineering began years later after the American brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright made the fist ever flight of self-propelled heavier than air aircraft flight in 1903. This gave birth to the Royal Naval Flying School at Eastchurch, Kent on December 1911. The school was eventually integrated into the Royal Flying Corps forming a new airplane squadron. Soon after, the specifications of the navy introduced the RNAS.
On August 4th 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and entered WWI. The British RFC only had 84 aircraft while the RNAS had 71. Germany’s advance technologies gave it great advantage during air strikes, which crippled towns in England through damaging bombings. This disadvantage caused the British military to create a separate ministry, which could focus on the development of strategic air bombing against Germany.
It was on April 1st, 1918 that the RAF was born incorporating a female group called the Women’s Royal Air Force. The WRAF came forth after the concern of the loss of specialized female workforce. The WRAF fell into two categories; one fell under “immobiles” as they stayed attached to their local station. The second category being “mobile” lived in quarters on or near the workplace and could be transferred elsewhere if needed. The WRAF held the reputation of becoming the most professional and disciplined of all women’s service due to the strict guidelines imposed by the RAF. The WRAF came to and end on August 1919 and became an individual asset to the RAF as a whole, their bravery and call to action to a country in need held these women as one of the most important service groups during WWI.
By the end of the first World War on November 11,1918, the RAF had dropped 5,500 tons of bombs and claimed 2,953 enemy aircraft destroyed, gaining clear air superiority along the Western Front and contributing to the Allied victory over Germany and the other Central Powers. It had also become the largest air force in the world at the time, with some 300,000 officers and airmen—plus 25,000 members of the WRAF—and more than 22,000 aircraft.
The RAF expanded quickly due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The men of the regular pre-war air force were joined by those from the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, formed in 1924 to provide a reserve of manpower, and the RAF Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR), who were put on the active list when war was imminent and who were vital to the RAF's performance, particularly during the Battle of Britain. During the Second World War the RAF fought in every major theatre, the Battle of Britain being the most famous campaign where Britain fought the superior German Air Forces, blocked the Luftwaffe air supremacy over southern England and therefore preventing the German invasion of England.
The rapid expansion of the RAF came to life after the absorption of the men and planes of the air forces of the British Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. This also included European countries in exile fighting against the Nazis such as Poland, Czech Republic, France, and Belgium as well as British Indian colonials and British West Indian recruits. During World War II the RAF reached a total power of 1.2 million men and women, of whom 185,000 were aircrew. Unfortunately about 70 thousand personnel were killed. The British Royal Air Force will forever be known as one of the most significant professional groups ever assembled and a true ally to the United States of America.
This month we observe International Women's Day on March 8th and we would like to spotlight someone near and dear to us, our Vice President Jacky Clyman. Jacky is an inspiration to many that work at Cockpit USA and a role model to women who are veterans in the workforce as well as those starting their journey. We recently asked Jacky a couple of questions during her never ending day, and found her story to be one of passion, focus, and defiance.
Jacky Clyman is known to her family and colleagues not only as a devoted mother and EVP of Cockpit USA but most importantly a strong businesswoman who is a true force to be reckoned with. Prior to joining her husband’s vision of launching a brand that would replicate historical flight and military styles, Jacky worked as an Executive Director of Pro Musicis, a not-for profit foundation sponsoring outstanding classical soloists and bringing their talents to those who would have very little chance to hear them. “While I was working as the Executive Director of Pro Musicis, my husband Jeff decided to launch a brand that would recreate all of the iconic flight and military styles that were only available at that time in surplus stores. Remember that the A-2 jacket, for example, had not been issued since 1943. It was also during the turmoil of the Vietnam War, when Americans were feeling that the whole world thought poorly of them, that Jeff wanted to create “real American icons” and remember those who fought and wore these pieces. Thus was born the first mail order catalog for the brand”. Jacky decided to leave the non for profit world, joining forces with Jeff Clyman to fulfill their vision of what is now Cockpit USA, quoting that she would be the “administrative” arm of the business.
Jacky Clyman’s venture into the apparel business began out of passion for aviation. Being an “Air Force brat”, Jacky understood the pilot and military lifestyle that ultimately became the business module that is Cockpit USA. Throughout the years Jacky confronted challenges of being an entrepreneur, especially as a woman. “Learning how to work with foreign customers whose language I did not master was one of my fondest memories” said the multi-lingual woman who’s first job was as an interpreter for the U.S. State Department. “While in negotiations with a Japanese company for a whole day thinking we were on the verge of signing an agreement, only to realize that what I had been interpreting as acceptance of “terms” was just an acknowledgement that they had understood what I had been saying, not formally agreeing to it”. These are just some of experiences that shaped Jacky’s career.
For Jacky, the apparel business is no different than any other sector as it always involves politics and egos. “Telling men what to do especially when I was in my 30’s, realizing that a woman in a position of power was considered a ‘bitch on wheels’ while a man would simply be considered assertive” became one of the obstacles Jacky had to face in 42 years in the industry. According to Jacky through many changes have advanced women in the work place, the one thing that has not changed has been the perception of others while entering the room with Cockpit USA’s president Jeff Clyman; and still being considered the designer and not the administrative arm. Today Jacky remains a strong figure in the business aspects of Cockpit USA, providing her employees with support and feedback in design, sales, and marketing, as well as superb customer service. When asking Jacky what she would say to young women joining the workforce today she simply said “I wouldn’t just give advise to young women but to all women joining the business: it’s a tough business and a real roller coaster, so be prepared for it”.
Glenn Miller, band leader, musician, arranger, and composer during the swing era of the 1940's became one of the most iconic names in music. In 1942 with patriotic intention of entertaining the Allied Forces to boost morale overseas, Glenn Miller joined the war effort and was given rank as Army Captain and leader of the Army Band. He would soon transfer to the U.S Army Air Force, playing at air fields and bases across the nation and finally shipping out to England during the Summer of 1944.
Miller's most famous recordings include "In The Mood", and "Moonlight Serenade".
Miller was missing in action in 1944 on a flight from England to France over the English channel, but will forever be remembered as a hero and music star of the era.
Before Miller's disappearance, his music was used by World War II AFN radio broadcasting for entertainment and morale as well as counter-propaganda to denounce fascist oppression in Europe with even Miller once stating on radio "America means freedom and there's no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music."
Today Cockpit USA immortalizes Glenn Miller on our new lambskin A2 jacket reminiscent of the World War II years and swing music. Lined with a beautiful silk screened Glenn Miller Appliqué and a hand printed image of Glenn Miller playing his trombone on the back of the jacket; Cockpit USA’s Glenn Miller lambskin A-2 is designed for those who appreciate the great musicians who defined a whole era of popular culture.
Korea 1950, the U.S was at war defending South Korea from an invasion by North Korea and Communist China!
On 14 November 1950, a cold front from Siberia descended over the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean peninsula, and the temperature plunged to as low as −35 °F. The cold weather was accompanied by frozen ground, creating considerable danger of frostbite casualties, icy roads, and weapon malfunctions. Medical supplies froze; morphine syrettes had to be defrosted in a medic's mouth before they could be injected; frozen blood plasma was useless on the battlefield. Even cutting off clothing to deal with a wound risked gangrene and frostbite. Batteries used for the Jeeps and radios did not function properly in the temperature and quickly ran down. The lubrication in the guns gelled and rendered them useless in battle. Likewise, the springs on the firing pins would not strike hard enough to fire the round, or would jam. In fact, it was the brutal Korean weather that gave birth to the fishtail parka.
The M-51 fishtail parka hails its history from the US Army in Korea during the tough wet winters of the early 1950’s during the Korean War. Like many iconic pieces of outerwear, “the fishtail” has roots in the military. The old M-43 field jacket and liner of WWII as well as the wool great coat were the standard outerwear provided to the military, but the notoriously wet and cold climate of the Korean peninsula necessitated a warmer coat for American troops in the Korean War.
The Army designers first developed the M-1949 (Military 1949) and then the M-51 Cold Weather Parka as a result. The main concern for the US military during the Korean War was to keep the soldiers warm and mobile without wearing a robust and clumsy piece of outwear. The fishtail parka accomplished these needs with a three-quarter length, so it could keep someone’s entire body warm without hindering their movement, and constructed the coat out of waterproof cotton and then a nylon cotton blend, so the material would shed snow and freezing rain.
In the 1960’s, the army surplus fishtail parka became a fashion staple on the streets of London, protecting the suits of working men that needed shield from the city’s elements. While fashionistas would have you believe the tail is intended to hang down like the back end of a fish, it’s actually function is to be tied around the wearer’s legs, from the back to the front, in order to seal things off from any unexpected wind gusts.
Our made in the USA M51 DMZ Fishtail with liner has adopted the architecture of the G1 issue shell and liner, and has now been modified to fit a zip in/zip out soft merino shearling hoody, which acts as a fur liner that can also be used as a beautiful and comfortable stand-alone piece. With its authentic water repellent military specification tight weave canvas, the 100% Mil. Spec cotton gives the wearer perfect cold or wet weather protection. Cockpit USA also offers an M51 DMZ fishtail shell and a U.S Army Airborne Parachute Wing insignia fishtail version that heralds the bravery of the military parachutist. Authentic, historic, and unique; the M51 Fishtail Parka is designed for those who demand the best.
Cockpit USA is proud to introduce the U.S.S. Coral Sea Tribute Deck Jacket in remembrance of the battle that took place in 1942. The Japanese embroidered tour jackets of the 50’s and 60’s inspire our U.S.S. Coral Sea Wool Tour jacket. At the height of Japanese embroidery work, servicemen enjoyed being able to order patches or embroidery for only one jacket, which was not the case back at home in The United States. Beautifully cut, sewn, and embroidered in the USA with back panel that includes patches along sleeves denoting the ports of call for the ship, the U.S.S Coral Sea Tribute Deck Jacket honors the story of the many brave sailors that served proudly on the front lines of the U.S.S Coral Sea. Made in a very dark P-90 military navy wool, our Coral Sea jacket showcases the strength, leadership, and authenticity that is perfect for the everyman who honors legacy and independence.
May 8th, 1942 became a pivotal day in the Pacific Theater as it carried out the very first all-carrier battle. Blinded on both sides, the events that occurred during that dark day influenced the defeat of the Japanese empire in the up coming years. “The Battle of The Coral Sea” was the fist of its kind as both parties could not see the other during combat. The number of missed opportunities became evident to the airmen involved as they learned their trade through trial and deadly error. One of the sharpest learning curves in Naval history, the battle of the Corral Sea was a turning point in WWII.
This four-day World War II conflict marked the first air-sea battle in history. The Japanese were seeking to control the Coral Sea by occupying Port Moresby in southeast New Guinea; this of course never came to fruition due to the interjection of the Allied forces. After landing, the Japanese came under attack from the carrier planes of the American task force commanded by Rear Admiral Frank J. Fletcher. Even though this fierce battle proved to be damaging on both sides; the Allied forces came out on top due to the Japanese’s airplane loss. The loss of airplanes left the Japanese without enough planes to cover the ground attack of Port Moresby, resulting in a strategic Allied victory.
The U.S.S. Coral Sea (CV-43) named in commemoration of the historic Battle of the Coral Sea, launched on the 2nd of April 1946, and commissioned on the 1st of October 1947; earned the affectionate nickname “Ageless Warrior” through her long career, in service with the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet and subsequently the Seventh Fleet. In the span of 44 years of service, she has participated in NATO exercises around the world, operations during the Vietnam War, Paris Peace Accords and the Iran Hostage Crisis, in addition to a number of World Cruises and deployments. This resume would explain the ships motto “ Older and Bolder”. On April 26th, 1990. the “Ageless Warrior” was laid to rest. The U.S.S. Coral Sea was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register, eventually scrapped in the year 2000. Today and always, Cockpit USA honors the U.S.S Coral Sea.
Imagine flying closely over the dangerous waters of the South Pacific during WWII, hiding in the darkness of the night from enemy ships. These nighttime operations referred to as “Black Cat” or “Nightmare” missions will soon become your specialty, earning you the nickname “Black Cat”. These nocturnal missions gave the PBY airmen their fame in the early years of the 1940’s. Painted matte black, effective and creative in its late night stealth missions, the PBY aircraft became the first of its kind.
The name “Black Cats”, adopted on October 30TH 1942, by the PBY aircraft stealth missions over the waters of the South Pacific, became one of the most important squadron names in U.S history. The PBY is considered to be the savior, hunter, aggressor, and supplier of the Pacific theatre during World War II. Though this heavy and slow flying aircraft was considered to be an easy target, the black matte paint turned this giant into an invisible nighttime predator. Equipped with torpedoes weighing more than two thousand pounds each, the PBY had to be precise to hit their targets during the dead of night. Extremely dangerous, but highly effective, these missions lead to shipboard Catalina crews receiving scores of commendations.
The first official Black Cat squadron was VP-12, which operated PBY-5As, an amphibious version of the PBY that could land on water or on a runway with conventional landing gear. Formerly VP-24, VP-12 was re-designated on August 1st 1941 and stationed at NAS Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941 most of the fleet were on a training exercise when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. A majority of their fleet managed to escape undamaged, but the hangars of VP-21 and VP-22 were ruined. Fueled by patriotism to defend their country, VP-12 was transferred to NAS Kaneohe and patrolled the waters around Hawaii as well as sending detachments to Midway Island. Their attacks and rescue missions patrolling the South Pacific waters around Guadalcanal would lead to their legacy.
Cockpit USA is proud to commemorate the history of the Black Cat squadron by introducing six iconic items that pay homage to the bravery of the aircrew men that served during WWII. We are offering three Black Cats t-shirts that shine light on the incredible aircrew of the VPB-24, VPB-71, and the VP-44 using the squadron logos, as well as our VP-44 baseball cap. Our VP12 Black Cats N4 Aircrew Deck Jacket commemorates the VP12 squadron, the first squadron that ventured into New Guinea and the Solomon Island airspace. Lastly, our hand treated goatskin Black Eagle leather G-1 bomber jacket honoring the missions of the VPB-71. Legendary, powerful, and one of a kind; the Black Cats were at the forefront of ingenuity and precision.
Today Cockpit USA is excited to announce its collaboration with the incredible people at the Folds of Honor charitable foundation in support of our nations veterans and their families. Earlier this morning on TVs Fox and Friends cable news program live from PGA Headquarters in Florida Maj. Dan Rooney, founder and CEO of Folds of Honor, alongside PGA CEO Peter Bevacqua, presented Golf Legend and 18 time champion, Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus the first edition of the hand painted Folds of Honor/Cockpit USA “Freedom isn’t Free” A-2 leather flight jacket. This first jacket, donated by Cockpit USA, was presented in recognition of Mr. Nicklaus’ steadfast support for the foundations upcoming Patriot Golf Day and fundraising campaign. This Jacket marks the beginning in a series of Cockpit USA special edition jackets for Folds of Honor to recognize those who have dedicated themselves to supporting our nations veterans and their families. Cockpit USA is truly honored and proud to support the Folds of Honor, and the upcoming Patriot Golf Day.
The story behind this jacket’s creation is just as interesting as the jacket itself. Beginning in early summer 2017 Maj. Dan Rooney, FOH founder and CEO, and Maj. Scott Clyman, Cockpit USA Partner and son of Cockpit founders Jeff and Jacky Clyman, were introduced and began a collaboration to design a special jacket to be presented to those who have selflessly dedicated both time, and financial support to Folds of Honor and its mission. Both Dan and Scott are combat veteran F-16 pilots, who better to have collaborated on such a project than those that have served themselves. Watching two veterans work together to create a token of appreciation to the many people who selflessly have made a difference in a veteran, or veterans families life has been inspirational to all of us here at Cockpit USA.
The Folds of Honor X Cockpit USA “Freedom Isn’t Free” jacket will become part of the Folds of Honor culture, being presented to major supporters of the foundation, and becoming a symbol of their patriotism. We look forward to many more presentations to the committed supporters of this great foundation.
With the motto, “Honor their Sacrifice, Educate their Legacy”, Folds of Honor has committed themselves to changing the future of the grieving spouses and children of fallen American servicemen and women. Since 2007, Patriot Golf Day has raised over $38M, and awarded 7,000 scholarships to veteran families, FOH has given over 16,000 scholarships since being founded. Their Patriot Golf Day campaign held on Labor Day weekend raised $6.1M last year alone. Maj. Dan Rooney a PGA professional himself, has combined his time in the military, with his career in the PGA to provide educational support to our American veteran families.
Cockpit USA has always been and will continue be, a supporter of our American armed service men, women, and families. Working with Folds of Honor has been a fantastic experience, and an honor to participate in their educational support. Driven, patriotic people doing what they can, whatever they can aligns well with the core of our brand.