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It started with function.
The iconic bomber jacket was named for the task at hand and after the people implementing it: wartime pilots. Built with serious practicality in mind (these guys weren’t just strolling around the hood for their morning coffee), the original bomber was the answer to open cockpits, which made for pretty frigid flights. Some of the first iterations of the bomber jacket were made nearly 100 years ago, crafted out of heavy-duty leather with high collars, zipper closures, and cuffs and waists that clung closely to the body. Basically any way you could keep wind from barreling through your gear, that’s what they did.
Even when the cockpits became more airtight affairs, they were essentially uninsulated tin cans hurtling through the air.
With WWII-era planes then capable of flying at 25k feet, temperatures could go as low as negative 50 degrees. (That’s brisk, baby!) Technology might have meant that they cut down on the wind factor, but staying warm was still as important as ever. Round two of these bombers were still heavy on the leather and fur.
The bomber has seen numerous rewrites – from Amelia Earheart around-the-world vibes and Tom Cruise a la Top Gun. But the bomber that’s stuck around the longest is the MA-1, designed in the ‘50s, reflecting the dawn of the jet age. With the invention of the jet came another technological leap: Pilots could fly higher, meaning colder temps. Like, a lot colder. The fleece they’d used for warmth in earlier bombers was now a potential hazard if wet; it’d freeze when they got high enough. That’s where nylon came in. Since its inception, the bomber has lived many lives, but the MA-1 remains the most useful to today’s lifestyles. Life on the ground can be pretty hard, too.
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