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RAF Sheepskin

  • 100 Years of The British Royal Air Force

    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.

    Click here for 20% off on our RAF Fighter Weight Sheepskin Bomber Jacket. Offer valid from March 30-April 3rd 2018

    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.

    jets-throughout-history-2

    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.

    Montrose-Royal-Flying-Corps-officers-and-an-airmen-background-from-No-2-Squadron-pose-in-front-of-a-BE-2-biplane WWI Montrose-Royal-Flying-Corps-officers-and-an-airmen-background-from-No-2-Squadron-pose-in-front-of-a-BE-2-biplane WWI
    RAF Aircrew in front of a Hurricane Aircraft 1940 RAF Aircrew in front of a Hurricane Aircraft 1940
    RAF Pilots, 1940 somewhere in England RAF Pilots, 1940 somewhere in England

    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.

    WRAF Servicewoman WWII WRAF Servicewoman WWI

    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.

    Photo of French Pilot flying with original RAF Jacket Photo of French Pilot flying with original RAF Jacket. Click here for Cockpit USA's RAF Sheepskin Bomber Jacket

    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.

    British bomber crews during a mission in 1942, North Africa British bomber crews during a mission in 1942, North Africa

     

     

     

     

  • #CockpitGlobeTrotters: The Pathfinders

    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!

    Luca & Kristen bundle up in their Cockpit USA sheepskins. Luca & Kristen bundle up in their Cockpit USA sheepskins.

    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 and Kristen spot a male lion while out in the Masai Mara. James and Kristen spot a male lion while out in the Masai Mara.

    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 on safari in the Masai Mara. Luca and Kristen on safari in the Masai Mara.

    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.

    Luca wearing his Vintage Motorcross while exploring Point Lenana. Luca wearing his Vintage Motorcross Jacket while exploring Point Lenana.

    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.

    Kristen taking a break from climbing Point Lenana in her B-3. Kristen taking a break from climbing Point Lenana in her Women's Hooded B-3 Bomber.

    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.

    Luca and Kristen taking in the morning on the Masai Mara in their Cockpit USA motorcross jackets. Luca and Kristen taking in the morning on the Masai Mara in their Cockpit USA Motorcross Jackets.

    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.

    Luca & Kristen relax in their luxury tent in the Masai Mara. Luca & Kristen relax in their luxury tent in the Masai Mara.

    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.


    Looking out over the Masai Mara. Looking out over the Masai Mara.

    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.

    Follow Luca @lucapiazziphoto • Follow Kristen @_kristeniris

    Don Young, CEO of Newland, Tarlton & Co and Cockpit USA Brand Ambassador Don Young, CEO of Newland, Tarlton & Co and Cockpit USA Brand Ambassador wearing his Cockpit USA Sabre Ultralight Field Jacket
  • #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.  

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