Check out our very first "Cockpit Catalog" from our initial mail order days circa 1979/80. The first to bring then long dormant aviation fashion back into the world and been keeping up this tradition for 40 years now!
Lydia Litvyak standing next to her plane before a mission.
At age 14 she enrolled in a flying club, and by 15 performed her first solo flight. It’s no wonder we are so impressed with Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad. She was the first female fighter pilot to earn the title fighter ace.
Ever since she was a child she became interested in flying. For three years she was a flight instructor, then after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit. She was only accepted after exaggerating her pre-war flight time by 100 hours. On her third mission flying in a Yak-1 on September 13, 1942, she scored her first two kills.
Never giving up her femininity, she would dye her hair blonde and place flowers in the cockpit of the plane she flew while serving in the military. Moving up quickly in the military ranks, she and fellow female pilot, Katya Budanova became “free hunters” on February 23, 1943. By June 13, she was appointed flight commander of the 3rd Aviation Squadron within 73rd GvIAP.
Her last mission was on August 1, 1943 when she did not return to her base. Her plane was shot down during a fight with a pair of German bombers. It was rumored that she survived the crash and taken as a prisoner of war, but she was never heard from again. She ended her career with 11-12 solo kills, at least 4 shared kills and a total of 66 combat missions. On May 6, 1990 she was award Litvak Hero of the Soviet Union.
Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad
Some of the first sky explorations took place as far back as the 1780s, though they weren’t with planes. The Montgolfier Brothers were the pioneers of the hot air balloon, who conducted the first untethered flights.
The Montgolfier Brothers were the pioneers of the hot air balloon, who conducted the first untethered flights.
Joseph-Michel and Jacques- Étienne were born in France, the sons of a paper factory owner. The factory helped lead them to their discovery that heated air would cause a large lightweight paper or fabric bag to rise in the air.
Starting their discovery by raising just a balloon, they advanced a few months later on September 19, 1783 by sending a sheep, rooster, and duck into the air. The animal passengers stayed up in their balloon for 8 minutes landing 2 miles from the launch site.
Then on November 21, 1783, the first untethered flight took place in a balloon that sailed over Paris for 5.5 miles in 25 minutes. Without the curiosity and heart of these early explorers, the sky would have taken another century to reach.