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  • A Brief History of The Black Cats

    PBY 5As Aircraft, part of The Black Cats Missions PBY 5As Aircraft, part of The Black Cats Missions

    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.

    PBY Aircraft PBY Aircraft

    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's New Black Eagle G-1 Bomber Jacket Cockpit USA's New Black Eagle G-1 Bomber Jacket

    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.

  • #CockpitGlobeTrotters: The Story Teller

    It had been 7 years since Matthew and Jen Landis spent their honeymoon on Safari in Africa. A magical experience that marked the beginning of their adventures together, and a promise to themselves to one-day return. Since their last trip to Africa, the couple added two beautiful children to their ranks, and established a media company specializing in telling the story of a brand. Their storytelling talents lead to the call that would finally bring them back on Safari, and back to Africa.

    Matt Landis and his wife, Jen watching the sunset while on safari with Don Young. Matt Landis and his wife, Jen watching the sunset while on safari with Don Young.

    The voice on the other end of that call was that of Mr. Don Young, CEO of the historic Newland, Tarlton & Co. Safari Company. Being familiar with Soluna Media, Don was drawn to their specialization of telling the story of a brand through multimedia production. Matthew has 17 years of multimedia development experience, while Jen has built a career as a creative director at a brand advancement agency. That talent, along with their passion for Africa and past Safari experience was exactly what Don was looking for.

     

    The adventure Don presented to them, was to come to Kenya to present their vision and experience of his tented safari camp in the Masai Mara, and the “Kiota Safari House”, a private safari home located on the 12,000 acre El Karama Wildlife Conservancy. Matt and Jen jumped at the chance to return to Africa and to give their perspective on the Newland, Tarlton & Co. Safari experience. Fortunately for us, Matt happily agreed to field-test Cockpit USA products while in production.

    Matt Landis with his drone preparing to film the African wilderness. Matt Landis with his drone preparing to film the African wilderness.

    Because in the wilds of Africa, the best light for filming is often in the crystal clear cold air before sunrise and after sunset, Matt chose our iconic Cockpit USA R.A.F. Shearling Jacket to keep him comfortable in the chilly mornings and nights. The R.A.F. Shearling Jacket was originally designed for pilots flying open cockpit biplanes and later gained legendary status during the Battle of Britain.

    Matt Landis piloting his drone in Cockpit's RAF Sheepskin Bomber Matt Landis piloting his drone in Cockpit's RAF Sheepskin Bomber

    Feeling warm and heroically stylish in our Cockpit USA R.A.F. Shearling jacket, Matt piloted his video drone above the breathtaking wildebeest migration, over Don Young’s safari camp in Masai Mara and around Don’s Kiota Safari House - capturing exciting moments on safari. For Matt and Jen Landis, their safari with Newland, Tarlton & Co. was a dream come true. For Cockpit USA it was another chance to showcase how our legendary jackets are built for the most rugged of lifestyles.

     

     

    We are happy to share the video production that resulted from this trip, and encourage all of you to check out Newland, Tarlton & Co. Safari Company, The Safari Company of Teddy Roosevelt, and a name synonymous with luxury since 1904.  

  • 12 Days of Deals! Day Three

    Get geared up for the holidays with the Cockpit USA 12 days of Christmas event. 12 Days, 12 deals, each day offering 20% OFF that days look. Beginning December 10th, and running through December 21st, have everything you need for your holiday shopping.

    Day 3, December 12th: Use code DAYTHREE

    Take 20% off our The Amelia Jacket, Infinity Map Scarf, and Legacy Leather Backpack.

    20% OFF The Amelia Jacket, Infinity Map Scarf, and Legacy Leather Backpack with code: DAYTHREE 20% OFF The Amelia Jacket, Infinity Map Scarf, and Legacy Leather Backpack with code: DAYTHREE
  • 75th Anniversary AVG Reunion

    Thom Richard P-40 Thom Richard P-40

    Atlanta GA, September 21-25, 2016, Cockpit USA, and the American Airpower museum had the honor of participating in the 75th Anniversary commemoration of the American Volunteer Group (AVG). Two of the three surviving members of the AVG were in attendance, and five P-40’s from around the country gathered to honor the group. With the help of Sponsors Cockpit USA, The American Airpower Museum was able to send their P-40 “Jacky C” from its base In Farmingdale N.Y. to Peachtree DeKalb airport in Georgia.

    Cockpit USA has made it part of it’s core mission to honor the Americans who volunteered to assist China during WWII. Their 23rd Fighter Group Jacket is a tribute to the group deigned to be as close to the original jackets used as possible. Additional Jacket designs have also been used as a way to continue to educate people on the groups fascinating history.

    American Airpower Museum's P-40 American Airpower Museum's P-40

    The American Airpower Museum, maintains their P-40 Warhawk in the original paint scheme of the 23rd AVG Fighter group. The aircraft is seen my school groups, museum visitors, and airshow fans across the Northeast United States.

    For more Cockpit USA styles honoring the American Volunteer Group please see our:

    Flying Tigers Souvenir Trucker JacketAVG Flying Tigers Souvenir Jacket23rd Fighter Group A-2 Flight Jacket

    Thom Richard wearing Cockpit USA's 23rd Fighter Squadron A-2 Thom Richard wearing Cockpit USA's 23rd Fighter Squadron A-2
  • Congratulations to pilot Thom Richard

    As you may or may not know, Cockpit USA is a proud Sponsor of Reno Air Race Gold Unlimited Class P-51 Team, "Precious Metal". Cockpit USA would like to take the time to congratulate pilot Thom Richard for successfully becoming the first World Champion in the international F1 World Cup Series. Thom is not only a supporter of our brand, a pilot for our museum, and a dear friend, he also moonlights as one of our models! Way to go Thom, and all of the members of the "Precious Metal" and "Hot Stuff" teams!

    Thom Richard at the American Airpower Museum Thom Richard at the American Airpower Museum
  • WCW: Jerrie Mock

    In 1964, an Ohio housewife went on the flight of a lifetime and became the first woman to fly around the world solo. Jerrie Mock was not your ordinary housewife. Flying her single engine Cessna 180, the "Spirit of Columbus", Mock made her world trip alone in just 29 days. She is an inspiration to pilots and go-getters, like ourselves, everywhere.

    Jerrie Mock standing next to her Cessna 180, the Spirit of Columbus. Jerrie Mock standing next to her Cessna 180, the Spirit of Columbus.

    To learn more about this incredible woman, check out this great article we found on BuzzFeed about her: www.buzzfeed.com/amyksaunders/the-untold-story-of-the-first-woman-to-fly-around-the-world

  • National Poetry Day

    Impressions of a Pilot  Flight is freedom in its purest form, To dance with the clouds which follow a storm;  To roll and glide, to wheel and spin, To feel the joy that swells within;  To leave the earth with its troubles and fly, And know the warmth of a clear spring sky;  Then back to earth at the end of a day, Released from the tensions which melted away.  Should my end come while I am in flight, Whether brightest day or darkest night;  Spare me your pity and shrug off the pain, Secure in the knowledge that I'd do it again;  For each of us is created to die, And within me I know, I was born to fly.  — Gary Claud Stokor Impressions of a Pilot— Gary Claud Stokor
  • WCW: Patty Wagstaff

    A champion, teacher, sportsman, and performer, Patty Wagstaff is a modern day inspiration to pilots everywhere. With a family history involved in the skies, Wagstaff took to the air like a bird.

    Photo of Patty Wagstaff by the National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution Photo of Patty Wagstaff by the National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution

    Taking the controls of her father’s DC-6 at ten years old with him by her side, her eyes were opened to the incredible feeling of flying. Starting her affair with airplanes with bush flying, Wagstaff’s first airplane she was chartering crashed on take off. Determined to not let the experience get in her way to the skies, she hired friend and future husband, Bob, to travel with her in his Cessna 185 floatplane.

    That was just the beginning. Learning and training to fly everything from WWII fighter planes to jets to helicopters, Wagstaff conquered any aircraft that came her way. Years of training, experience and determination led to earning a spot in the US Aerobatic Team by 1985.

    A six-time recipient of the “First Lady of Aerobatics” Betty Skelton Award, a recipient of the “Sword of Excellence” Airshow Industry Award, and the “Bill Barber Award for Showmanship” are a few of Wagstaff’s proudest achievements. In 2004 she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Air Force Association.

    When she is not training or flying in Airshows and competitions, Wagstaff works as a stunt pilot and aerial coordinator for TV and film. Never having enough of the sky, Patty decided to use her skills and training to help others in more ways than just entertainment. For over ten years, she has traveled to East Africa to train Kenya Wildlife Service pilots in bush, recurrency and aerobatic training. Those pilots go on to protect Kenya’s natural resources, elephants and rhinos. Dedicated to helping other, for three years she flew for the Cal Fire as an Air Attack pilot to help keep California safe from fires.

    Continuing her passion for flying, Wagstaff has opened an aerobatic school in St. Augustine, Florida. At the “Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic School” she trains pilots to fly with safety and confidence. When she isn’t teaching others the joys of flight, she is off traveling around the world and enjoying the little things in life. Patty Wagstaff is a true pilot at heart and an American inspiration.

    Photo of Patty Wagstaff from Patty Wagstaff Airshows, Inc. Photo of Patty Wagstaff from Patty Wagstaff Airshows, Inc.

    For more information on Patty, visit her website: http://www.pattywagstaff.com/

    The information for this blog post came from:
    www.pattywagstaff.com/
    www.airspacemag.com/flight-today/patty-wagstaffs-second-act-27258964/
    www.facebook.com/PWAS1

  • WCW: Lydia Litvak, The White Lily of Stanlingrad

    Lydia Litvyak standing next to her plane before a mission. 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 Lydia Litvyak, the White Lily (Rose) of Stanlingrad
  • Aviator: Harry Atwood

    Imagine after three months of your first flying lesson, you set a record breaking flight of 576 miles from Boston to Washington, DC, and land on the lawn of the White House. That's exactly what aviator, Harry N. Atwood did.

    Harry Atwood Harry Atwood

    Atwood began training to be a pilot at the Wright Brother's Flying School in Ohio. Soon after his flight to DC, he began flying across the U.S. from Chicago to Milwaukee and then St. Louis to New York. Wanting to get more involved with planes, Atwood, left exhibition flying to build planes. He managed to become a flight instructor for William Starling Burgess and then General Aviation Corporation. After a few years with he realized that he belonged else where in the skies and went back to exhibition flying. On May 31, 1912, he made the first airmail in delivery in Massachusetts from Atwood Park to Lynn.

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