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Tuskegee airman

  • Celebrating the heroic life of John "Jack" Lyle, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen

    John “Jack” Lyle next to his fighter jet named after his first wife Natalie during WWII.

    “I don’t consider myself a hero because a hero is somebody who does something beyond the call of duty, I never did anything beyond the call of duty, whatever I did I did because I liked it” Fox News Channel May 4th 2018

    On this Black History Month Cockpit USA pays honor to one of the last surviving heroes of the iconic Tuskegee Airmen group of WWII. The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of black soldiers that defied expectations in a segregated military during a time when it was believed African-Americans couldn’t be trained in aviation. Their bravery and contributions helped promote inclusion in the advancement of the United States military.

    Photo of Tuskegee Airmen During WWII

    John “Jack” Lyle died on January 5th, 2019 at 98 years old in his home in the Chicago South Side. Lyle was a child musician, fighter pilot, cop, a sailor, an entrepreneur, and an amateur inventor. His wife Eunice Jackson-Lyle described him as an individual who loved to learn; “his home had a library stocked with encyclopedias and classic novels”. During his last days, Lyle spent his time at the Jackson Park Harbor on Lake Michigan, a perfect location for one of his many passions, sailing.

    “Captain Jack” as he was called by many loved ones was a highly skilled fighter pilot, "We flew 500 feet above the bombers to keep enemy fighters from hitting our guys," he recalled in a 2012 interview with Jet Magazine. "I loved flying, being up in the clouds, the scenery. I flew 26 combat missions, from southern Italy to Austria and southern Germany, over the Austrian Alps." Lyle also mentioned in the interview on how he was fired upon on several times and how he watched at first-hand other bombers being torn apart by the enemy. After the war, Lyle returned to his hometown of Chicago where he enlisted in college to then work as a skyscraper window washer. Lyle found other ventures after window washing; he worked as an insurance salesman to then owning his own fish and chicken restaurant and eventually a tree cutting service company.

    John "Captain Jack" Lyle, at his Chicago home, Friday, Dec. 2, 2011. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

    Lyle’s childhood dream came true in 1957 when he bought his first sailboat. The freedom he felt on the water fulfilled his competitive spirit. His intelligence and pilot experience made him an outstanding sailor, as he was quick to respond to any wind changes upon the horizon. The many years of practice paid off and Lyle eventually became a captain at the Jackson Park Yacht Club. Lyle's focus and love of sailing awarded him the title of  “Yachtsperson of the Year” by the Chicago Yachting Association at the age of 91, becoming the eldest person to receive the honor.


    John Lyle on Lake Michigan 2018

    With all of these recognitions none compare to the Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by then president George W. Bush in 2007, which acknowledge Lyle’s achievements and bravery during WWII. All of these milestones never deterred Lyle’s humbleness as he never considered that what he did was award-worthy.

    U.S. Capitol. Arrival. Greeted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Statuary Hall. Photo opportunity with 300 Tuskegee Airmen prior to Ceremony.

    Today we pay respect an honor the legacy of an American champion. Surviving though his wife and three children, John “Captain Jack” Lyle is part of history. Lyle and many other men during WWII risked their lives to ensure that our freedoms at home were protected during a time of adversity. His service and the service of all Tuskegee Airmen is an important piece of the Civil Rights Movement that influenced unity within the military. Here’s to a man who lived to be free in the skies and on the water, rest in peace John “Captain Jack” Lyle.

  • Another Satisfied Customer: Tuskegee Airman's Jacket

    "I'm loving my new jacket - beautiful leather, fit and craftsmanship! The cloth lining is very comfortable in our chilly west coast Canadian winter and there's room for a thin sweater too. Sales staff were great - very friendly and accommodating."

    - Peter Z.

  • Cockpit CPT Drill Instructor Shirt

    The Cockpit USA, CPT branded D.I. style shirt will not only gain you respect, it is also the best fitting casual or official military looking shirt you will find anywhere.

    Inspired by shirts worn by officers and Drill Instructor Senior Sargeants in years gone by, the shirt gained the nick name "D.I." shirt.

    The D.I. shirt sports all the features of the originals dating back to World War II. Two chest button flap pockets and shoulder epaulets measured to original specifications.

    From the tailored rugged military poplin fabrics commanding authority to a variety of '60s "happy days" plaids, this is the one shirt your girlfriend or significant other will want to pry off you. By the end of the week after multiple wearings, it will really need to see the washer.

    Easily cared for in machine washable fine 100% cottons, you'll never want to take this puppy off. It feels and fits sooooo well.

    We decided to make the "D.I" in olives and blacks in a file weave cotton that shows age without wear. For Spring and Summer fun, we've put some stripes and plaids in the mix - a soft tender feeling but durable flat weave cotton that lets the shirt breath while giving the appearance of the original form fit without the restrictions of the actual Army or Marine Corps item. A long sleeved shirt  for all occasions, all states of mind...

    It took me a long time to find exactly the right contour and arm hole fit to match what the most fashion conscious would even consider in such a straight laced shirt. All this while also accomodating the customer who really wants to relive those early bonding days with the guys in his or her first training platoon.

    Don't get me wrong, these shirts in stiff vintage military fabrics were actually worn in combat so they are great for domestic spats! Just put one on and PEACE will regin.

    Enjoy the history blended into contemporary style!
    Find it at the Cockpit Store in NOHO at 652 Broadway or on our web site:
    Keep 'em flying!
    Jeff Clyman

  • 21st Century Authentic A-2

    Official USAF 21st century A-2 flight jacket

    Official USAF 21st century A-2 flight jacket

    I am such a fan of what Ralph Lauren has created in his vision of Double RL! The store has the perfect ambiance and the clothes are either really authentic vintage iconic pieces or designated to look really authentic!

    It was a pleasure to work with Ralph Lauren when he called me in 1978 to manufacture and design his first A-2 style leather jacket. We were both perfectionists sharing the same values about the significance of iconic clothing and its inspiration to clothing design around the world.

    Little did I know that eight years after my design and manufacturing experience with Ralph Lauren, I would end up producing the REAL  A-2 leather jackets for the United States Air Force. My company would be the prime mover in 1986 working with F-16 Thunderbird Pilot Lt. Colonel "Hoss" Jones, the lead contact to the Airforce Joint Chiefs and the Uniform Board, who would be instrumental in getting the U.S. Air Force to re-adopt the leather A-2 as regulation uniform wear as it had been from 1931 to the end of WWII.

    I was a perfectionist myself as well as a Warbird pilot who actually flew and flies WWII fighters (P51 Mustangs, P-40 Warhawks, Navy and Marine Corps F4U Corsairs and Airforce P-47's) in air shows.
    We are fortunate enough to be able to offer authentic versions MADE IN THE USA  to the General Public through our company, Cockpit USA Inc. website, our retail Cockpit General Store at 652 Broadway in New York City and in our printed mailorder Cockpit USA Catalog.

    Made of supple government specification seal brown goatskins, the authentic currect issue A-2 jacket is second to none - Style Z21V41 has all the features of the U.S. Air Force jacket except (unless specially requested) special Velcro patches which the Air Force pilots use to display their rating and their rank and unit identification or squadron insignias...and sometime just sport their "call sign" or nickname like: "Maverick", "Iceman", "Goose" or "Razor" on a custom embroidered name patch.

    Today's A-2 has side and top entry pockets so there is actually somewhere to put your hands instead of the top entry pockets of the WWII versions (see later blogs).

    But don't just read this, SEE this 20th century piece of "Revival"TM clothing in our catalogs or on our website:  Once you put it on you will be scouring the streets of Tribeca in NYC, the Vista in Columbia South Carolina or the slopes in Colorado looking for that P-51 Mustang fighter to strap on and take to the skies. This is the jacket our fighter pilots wear today! It's living history...

    Jeff Clyman

    Check Six and Keep 'em Flyin'

    For a 10% off regular priced merchandise pls write a review about Cockpit at City Search - Click Here> to write a review.

  • A-2 antique lamb leather -Z2567- modeled after the iconic pilot's leather "second skin"

    Cockpit antique lamb Z2567 made in the USA

    Cockpit antique lamb Z2567 made in the USA

    No one remembers that in the 1970s, when Jacky and I founded Avirex to replicate WWII apparel leather jackets, most leather jackets were considered "bad boy" motorcycle clothing.....Marlon Brando....Fast and the Furious, James Dean, Steve McQueen...etc...

    I had grown up with my father's A-2 he used while flying combat in China during WWII  and then graduated to wearing my uncle's A-2 leather flight jacket which he wore flying P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes over Germany in 1944.

    Apparently I was not alone. A lot of people were attracted to my jacket with its squadron patches and insignias as they commented to me while I was wearing these "artifacts" as flying kit while performing stunts at airshows in my Stearman vintage WWII Bi-plane... et voila Avirex and Cockpit USA were born!

    The first jackets I had made for Cockpit USA were so stiff they stood up by themselves. This led to my quest to soften the product and create an aged "100 mision worn in used look" to the jackets and ultimately to my developing what became known as "Distressed Leather" and "Distressed Sheepskin" to simulate years of wear.

    The end result is the iconic Cockpit style  Z2567 antique lambskin A-2 pilot's jacket  created by us in the 1980's. It has a luxurious satin lining  with an embroidered, appliqued and hand printed decorated patriotic lining design adorned with American Flags, a salutation from the Gerneral of the Armed Forces and a pin-up inllustration sewn into one side of the jacket featuring a 1940's beauty and the by line "For the Boys in the Cockpit." A lot of visual surprise on the interior of an otherwise utilitarian flight jacket -  Cockpit created a first in the world of flight fashion.

    Why do I call this leather "antique?" Because as you wear this jacket, the leather changes tone and shows signs of use but without damage, and lightens in areas of friction normally occasioned by normal wear ultimately becoming the personalized creation of the wearer. Each jacket ends up its own unique icon with looks slightly different between wearers. 

    And your Cockpit A-2 style Z2567 is MADE IN THE USA!!!

    You can't get homegrown quality like this anywhere but at the Cockpit.

    Choose an Air Corps brown or black color in this very comfortable all year round wearable pilot's original authentic flight suit clothing gear modeled after the jacket  Jacky and I actually redeveloped in 1986  for the United States Airforce combat pilots.

    Read about the 21st Century USAF flight jacket  in my next blog. You will want to sleep in it is so cool.

    Check Six and Keep'em Flying

    Jeff C.

    For a 10% off regular priced merchandise pls write a review about Cockpit at City Search - Click Here>  to write a review.

  • Cockpit USA - The Maiden Voyage

    front_11_revised2I get a thrill every time I walk into my store. (Cockpit USA between Bleecker and Bond in Noho).  But this is a second store.....I remember back in the early 1980s-yes, we've been around a while-when I wanted to make a "museum inside a store" and a "store inside a museum". The first store was at 595 Broadway and had a full size AT-6 WWII airplane and an aircraft carrier motif. The first theme store in the New York area! And the first fashion store on Broadway in 1986. Seems difficult to believe today when you walk down Broadway.

    But the store today still remains unique. I would be hard pressed to find any store in New York City like it. Now we have a real WWII C-45 airplane cockpit section as you walk in.

    Just North of Houston at 652 Broadway this place is a vintage time capsule with the oldest as well as the coolest contemporary fashion mixed with antiques, vintage flight jackets, giant size airplane models of World War II,  Jet Age Aircraft, a Tuskegee Airman P51 Mustang - all flying off the sides of the walls or coming straight at you as you walk in. We have been making and make in the USA -actually in the tristate area -the greatest goatskin, antique lamb and horse hide A-2 , G-1 flight jackets and a collection of WWII replica American sheepskin jackets for men and women.  You can even special order your personalized version if money is no object although, compared to designer versions, ours are a bargain.

    Add tees featuring the  authentic or funny graphics, khakis, jeans, antique furniture for sale including a kitchen hutch from the 1700’s ,this place is an old fashioned General Store!  But we don't stop at carrying just our branded merchandise......WESC jeans, Mosley Tribes and Randolph sunglasses, Fortis, Torgoen and G-Shock watches, Canterbury of New Zealand for men, women and children, Tretorn boots, PF FLyers sneakers, Corcoran, Belleville and Bates authentic  military pilot and Army parachute boots...We even feature the latest bakeries who supply us with brownies or cookies.

    The upstairs attic and garage sale areas give the shopper a great choice of crazy stuff to buy from beautiful fashion samples to World War II Russian leather flyers helmets complete with real flyers goggles and a  book library FOR SALE explaining all the things you never wanted to know.

    So join us at 652 Broadway in Manhattan cause there’s really neat stuff with wonderful sales people who will cater to your every whim or leave you alone if you say “Don’t bother me I’m just looking.”

    And if you don't find something "right" or you want to suggest improvements, by all means, send an email ( or comment on the blog. Criticism helps us get better.

    Jeff Clyman President (founder Avirex and Cockpit)

    For a 10% off regular priced merchandise pls write a review about Cockpit at City Search - Click Here>  to write a review.

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