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Photo Courtesy of Sidney Beshunski The 398th bomb group in 1943. Photo Courtesy of Sidney Beshunsky

In celebration of our 100% sustainable Evolution Flight Jacket, now’s a good time to cruise through this jacket’s past, present & future:

The War Horse

It gets chilly up in the clouds and in 1917 the U.S. Army produced a heavy-duty flight jacket to outfit those high-altitude skirmishes. Originally made of ‘Seal Skin leather’ (not sustainable…) before switching to ‘Horsehide Leather’ (not cool…), they fit great, were tough and sturdy, and kept pilots snug when the winds picked up. The look caught on and they became a signature part of the U.S. uniform during both World Wars.

A US bomber crew being briefed, 1944. Photo: Planet News Archive


Lightened Up

Ironically it took the Cold War to lighten things up. Sleek nylon replaced cumbersome shearling and leather –– a practical layer ideal for modern cockpits. The MA-1 emerged in 1950, leaner & meaner with innovations like an early form of waterproofing, and a bright orange lining that could be flipped out to alert rescuers in case of a crash.

Test Pilot Alvin Johnston, 1955. Photo: J. R. Eyerman

Take to the Streets

As the decades rolled on, everyone was getting in on the action, and the jacket flew effortlessly between underground style and high-fashion runways. Celebrities from Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, and Pharrell took the Bomber/Flight to new heights. The jacket soared through British counterculture, Hip Hop style, and far beyond.

Pharrell Williams in a MA-1 flight jacket, 2013. Photo: Alo Ceballos


An Icon Revolutionized

The enduring power of the Flight jacket is anyone’s guess, but it might have something to do with the fact that it’s one of those styles everyone can pull off in their own way.

At Outerknown, we’re putting our own, revolutionary spin on this classic, and our Evolution Flight Jacket is a game-changer. Built of ECONYL® –– recycled fishing nets transformed into premium nylon –– it’s the smoothest and most versatile layer in town, not to mention 100% sustainable. Fully reversible, with hand-pockets on each side, and an interior crane print inspired by Japanese master, Katsushika Hokusai, it’s outfitted with recycled poly insulation, a zippered sunglass pocket at the sleeve, and even a double pencil holder, as a nod to the heroes who braved the skies and charted our freedoms all those years ago.

Shop the Evolution Flight Jacket