BAC One-Eleven: High-altitude Sauciness.

The always “unique” Braniff airline hired between 1965-74 the Italian designer Emilio Pucci to fashion the uniforms for their flight crew and ground crews. One of his most bizarre -and also very sixties- collections was a sort of inter-changeable wardrobe, the “AirStrip”. This utterly politically incorrect collection involved the flight attendants taking off parts of the uniform as the flight progressed……

The “space” helmet was mandatory in the 1960’s.


North American SNJ: Spit & Polish.

A natty US Navy ensign -love that collar pin- in the back seat of a shiny early specimen of the North American’s most famous trainer. He wears the usual US Navy headgear of the early 1940’s: a M-450 summer helmet with grey-green pressed leather ear cups and a gorgeous pair of Wilson Mk II pilot goggles.

With his attention to details, this “Brown Shoes” must have gone far in the service.

Dassault Mirage IIIDBR: As intense as ever.

The fastest tasting another kind of speed. Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna in the rear seat of a two-seat F-103D (Brazilian denomination) in April 29, 1989. Utterly proud of his country, Senna said after this flight: “Se todos tivessem a oportunidade de sentir a mesma emoção, teriam mais amor a pátria” / “If all Brazilians would have the opportunity to feel this same emotion, they would love more our country”. No nonsense man.

Senna is wearing the standard Brazilian AF headgear of the era: a single visor HGU-26/P helmet with a MBU-5/P oxygen mask……, but in magnificent “samba” colors.

Such a gorgeous inflight portrait. Two of my addictions nicely joined here.

Ryan X-13: Those busy times.

Wonderful nonchalant portrait of Ryan test pilot W.L. “Lou” Everett. “Lou” was, with Ryan Chief Test Pilot Peter Girard, one of the two pilots that flew the radical X-13. He was later involved in testing a few more of the company vertical take-off experimental aircraft. Regrettably, he lost his life during a XV-5 Vertifan flight in 1964.

I love “Lou” Everett’s flight gear patina. That hard working TOPTEX helmet with its “Hardman” receivers for the MBU-3/P oxygen mask and, specially, his really weathered  A-2 jacket.

Bellanca 28-92: Julia did what she could.

This incredibly slick trimotor was custom-built for the well-known Capt. Alexander Papana to take part as a Romanian entrant in the 1937 Istres-Damascus-Paris Air Race. To fulfil this order the Bellanca company simply took the basic design of their single-engined “28’s” racers and powered it by a pair of 250hp Menasco Super Buccaneer in-line engines on the wings and a nose mounted 420hp Ranger SGV-770. Called “Alba Iulia” (White Julia), Papana had some engine problems during its tests prior to delivery (Papana’s fault according to Bellanca) and the order was cancelled then and there. Bellanca soon found work for it. The 28-92 took part in the classic Bendix Air Races of both 1938 and 1939 achieving a retirement due to engine problems and a second position respectively. Acquired by the Ecuadorian AF in 1941 and used until 1945, this jewel ended its days forgotten in an airfield there.

Classic photo of this beauty. Such splendour, I’ve to share it again. Alex Papana next to the just completed 28-92. It still lacking its propeller spinners.

Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3a: Neutrality Enabler.

Splendid portrait of a Swiss “Emil” pilot. Our hero wears a mix of local and German flight gear. German are his  LKp W 100 flight helmet with that nicely strapped 10-69 oxygen mask helmet and what seems to be “Auer” type goggles, or something similar. Of note the lack of canopy rearward armour and, barely seen, one peculiarity of the Swiss “Emils”: they’re equipped with a KG 11 spade grip instead of the usual pistol grip of that model.

All in all a very neatly dressed guy.