Imagine you are on safari in Africa surrounded by herds of wild animals.
It is just before sunrise so the air here in Kenya’s Masai Mara is amazingly cold!
You are driving in a vintage Land Rover safari car and the shearling jackets you are wearing are perfect for combating the cold morning wind while providing all the flexibility you need to maneuver your vehicle and handle your cameras to get the best photographs.
Helping you navigate through the pre-dawn African light is one of the best safari trackers in the Masai Mara - a Maasai warrior named James Raya. James wears a vivid red blanket and carries a very sharp spear - both symbols of a warrior tradition going back centuries. James’ costume proclaims his identity with a long heritage of values: courage, wisdom, skill, and another quality difficult to describe: something Ernest Hemingway called ‘grace under pressure.’
James, your tracker, spots a massive male lion with his head up and the first rays of the sun making a golden halo around his heavy mane. Over on the horizon, a herd of impala see the lion on the hunt and the atmosphere is suddenly electric with tension. The lion stands like a magnificent statue, his muscles tense, his eyes intent as he weighs his chances of dashing across open ground in full view of the impala to make a successful hunt.
It is moments like these on safari that are both breathlessly immediate and yet as timeless as Africa itself.
Luca and Kristen are perfect for the tasks I needed them to perform. Both love extreme outdoor sports and both are successful professional models. Kristen is a lover of the outdoors, mountaineering, raging rapids, and ragged ridge-lines are her passion. Luca grew up in Kenya and spent most of his childhood on safari. Luca’s mother Kire is one of my dearest friends so I have been an ‘uncle’ to Luca since he was a kid.
Kire is also a professional model who has proven herself to be as successful behind the camera as in front of it - carving a niche for herself as a commercial filmmaker and producer. Luckily for me, Kire also agreed to be one of my Field Testing team so we will be following Kire wearing her Cockpit USA jackets on our blog soon!
I recruited Luca Piazzi and Kristen Mcculloch to join me on safari to accomplish two specific and important missions:
Mission One was to check out some of my new safaris for adventure travelers, testing the best routes on Mt. Kenya and the Tugen Hills which I will offer to my loyal safari clients.
Mission Two was to help me prove that the Wilds of Africa - a place I have called home for the past 30 years - are the perfect environment for the durability, American-made quality and classic good looks of Cockpit USA jackets and bags.
Meanwhile, after briefing Kristen and Luca at my home-base at the beautiful Kiota Safari House, they started their trek up Mt. Kenya. Kristen is a veteran mountaineer who has climbed many of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks, but for Luca their plan to summit 16,355 foot Point Lenana was an intimidating goal.
Adding to the challenge was my request that they put their Cockpit USA jackets to the true-life test of high altitude trekking while taking quality ‘fashion’ photographs along the way. I knew that Luca had great talent as a photographer and filmmaker so I was confident he and Kristen could do the job.
As you can see, not only did Kristen and Luca succeed in climbing Point Lenana, they also brought home some excellent photographs of Cockpit USA jackets doing what they were made to do - facing life’s challenges with strength, durability and timeless style.
After Mt. Kenya, Luca and Kristen rejoined me in my classic tented safari camp in the Masai Mara where we spent the next several days putting our Cockpit USA clothes through their paces and enjoying every minute of it! The photographs in this blog are just a very few of many amazing images we are happy to share with you at Newland Tarlton Safaris.
I made a point earlier about my friend and head tracker James Raya and his proud role as a Maasai warrior. Although James (and his kids) are very much part of the modern world, James still honors the timeless traditions of his culture and proudly wears the clothes that tell the world who he is and what his values are. The Cockpit USA clothes we are field testing in Africa were also designed for warriors in another place and another time and represent values that never wear out. Like James Raya’s red blanket and steel spear, Cockpit USA clothing are an enduring statement of integrity and a commitment to excellence that stands the test of time.
— Donald Young, Brand Ambassador for Cockpit USA
Follow Luca and Kristen on Instagram to see their latest adventures.