What’s going on guys! TODD here with another product review from Outdoorgear.net and I am SUPER excited to have a chance to talk about what’s probably one of the most legendary pieces of military flight apparel in modern history – THE MA-1 FLIGHT JACKET.
The MA-1 jacket featured in the video is made by Alpha Industries, the same guys that have been supplying US airmen and soldiers with military gear for the last half-century. You can read a little more on Alpha Industries itself in the Alpha Industries M-65 Field Jacket post.
Now onto the meat n taters. Yes, the jacket you just saw (or are about to see if you haven’t watched the video yet) is the one and only MA-1 flight jacket. This is the jacket that heralded in the jet age and has since become an iconic trophy item for collectors and military enthusiasts all over the world.
The history behind the MA-1 is pretty straight forward. Towards the end of WWII many nations started developing jet-engine aircrafts, but the war ended before the crafts clocked any significant war-time usage. These new jet aircrafts flew at much higher altitudes and the pilots who flew them were forced to endure much colder temperature than they were used to with their good ol’ prop planes. Jet pilots were still wearing the older, but equally iconic B-15 bomber jackets at 40,000 feet and complained that it was impossible for them to perform at such high altitudes and freezing temperatures without more insulation.
Aside from the fact that they were freezing in their fighter jets, pilots also complained about the bulky clumsiness of the B-15 jacket. The new streamlined fighter jet cock pits were chock-full of new gadgets, leaving the pilot very little room to maneuver. Just getting into one of these things with a B-15 jacket on was a challenge in itself, not to mention doing so without accidentally hitting every switch and button along the way.
The US Air Force went to work on developing a new jacket for their top guns. What they came back with revolutionized military apparel–The MA-1 flight jacket. The MA-1 is MUCH lighter and more maneuverable than its predecessor. Most importantly, it’s made of very high-quality nylon making its heat-retention capabilities second to none.
Another feature the folks at the US Air Force Research and Development labs included in the MA-1 flight jacket design is the intentional eye-sore that is the inside liner. Every reproduction of the MA-1 jacket has a reversible inner liner dyed ‘Blaze Orange’. While it may sound like a Crayola color, ‘Blaze Orange’ is an authorized mil-spec color that offers extremely high-visibility. The decision to dye the reversible side of the MA-1 ‘Blaze Orange’ was made with the intention of giving downed pilots a hope of being rescued. All they had to do was reverse their standard issue MA-1 flight jacket. This made it a lot easier for search and rescue teams to spot the downed pilot and dramatically increased the success of S and R missions.
The MA-1 flight jacket was the standard issue flight jacket of the US Air Force for 20 years and remains one of the most cherished and iconic pieces of gear in aviation history. Since its introduction, the MA-1 flight jacket has made its way into many a civilian wardrobe. Clint Eastwood , Arnold Schwatzenegar, Bill Clinton, Steve McQueen, Kevin Costner and Leonardo DiCaprio are just a few public figures seen wearing the MA-1. To this day the MA-1 flight jacket remains the iconic symbol of the world’s transition into the jet age and modern warfare.