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From 1951 to 1958, legendary Motorcycle racers including Bud Ekins, Ed Kretz Jr. and Jack Thurman competed in the Catalina Grand Prix, an on/offroad event that saw riders racing through the streets of the port city of Avalon and out onto fire roads and horse trails in the surrounding hills. In its day, it was among the most anticipated races of the year.

Inspired by the U.K.’s historic Isle of Man TT, the two-day Catalina Grand Prix included a 60-mile race for bikes up to 250cc and a 100-mile race for larger machines. Races were 10 laps, with the 60-miler running a six-mile course and the 100-miler a 10-mile course.

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In 1957, 150 riders lined up for the 60-mile race, while another 199 watched the flag drop to start the 100-mile race. Fans loved the event, and in its last year, 1958, it’s estimated some 7,000 people took the Catalina Ferry from Los Angeles to Catalina Island to take in the racing action.

British bikes were very popular in the Catalina races, thanks no doubt to their light weight and high performance, with Triumph and BSA particularly well represented; 66 of the 199 starters in 1957’s 100-mile race were on Triumphs and 48 on BSAs.

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The race’s prominence prompted BSA, whose first big win at the island came in 1952, to introduce the Gold Star-based Catalina Scrambler in 1956. Fittingly, BSA won the 1956 event — after the Catalina Scrambler had been added to its lineup. BSAs nabbed four of the top 10 Open Class slots in the final 1958 race — including first.

Many of the AMA’s best motorcycle racers, local SoCal riders and Motorcycle Clubs including The Checkers, Shamrocks, Rough Riders and Dirt Diggers mixed with Hollywood actors, stunt riders, and thrill-seekers– all converging on the tiny vacation island from 1951 – 1958 for an event like no other.

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Actors Keenan Wynn and Steve McQueen famously attended, and Lee Marvin infamously raised hell. In fact, Dave Ekins credited Lee Marvin for being partially responsible for the Catalina GP’s demise in 1958–

“So, what happened? There are several reasons as to why they terminated this race. One of the reasons is that money commitment to cover the costs of the programs didn’t show up. After all, can’t have a race without a program. Another was actor Lee Marvin trying to incite a mutiny from the fantail of the homebound steamer. Marvin never needed a microphone even when shouting against the wind and it was all in jest anyway. But the Captain took Lee seriously enough to strap on a sidearm and stand on the bridge. The ship was escorted to the dock by the Harbor Police. Marvin had some explaining to do. Probably the most damaging was when Waikiki Bar owner Mel Porter closed up Saturday night and was mugged on his way home by several scum bags. Mel didn’t take kindly to this treatment and the Chamber of Commerce decided no more races. They chose the wrong person, Mel was the Mayor of Avalon.”  –Dave Ekins

Portrait of aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

Forty years before Annie Hall flirted with menswear, Amelia Earhart put women in pants (and, of course, planes).

In 1923, Earhart, fondly known as "Lady Lindy," became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot's license. Taking her first flying lesson on January 3, 1921, in six months she had managed to save enough money to buy her first plane. The second-hand Kinner Airster was a two-seater biplane painted bright yellow—Earhart named her newest obsession "The Canary" and used it to set her first women's record by rising to an altitude of 14,000 feet. Her strong will and conviction enabled her to overcome the challenging technical problems, gender bias and financial obstacles of the day.

Her many accomplishments in aviation went on to inspire a generation of female aviators, including more than 1,000 women pilots of the USAAF Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who ferried military aircraft, towed gliders, flew target practice aircraft, and served as transport pilots during World War II.

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Earhart was a widely known international celebrity during her lifetime. Her shyly charismatic appeal, sartorial style, independence, persistence, coolness under pressure, courage and goal-oriented career along with the circumstances of her disappearance at a young age have afforded her lasting fame in popular culture.

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Amelia’s sense of style reflected her independent personality, she was at odds with the feminine fashion trends of the day and instead was seen and pictured in newspapers wearing mens aviation clothing including military issue chinos trousers and leather flight jackets, revolutionary for the time. In 1932, Amelia developed flying clothes for the Ninety-Nines. Her first creation was a flying suit with loose trousers, a zipper top and big pockets. Vogue advertised it with a two-page photo spread. Then, she began designing her own line of clothes "for the woman who lives actively." It didn’t take long for masculine tailoring to become de rigueur for the Fashion Houses and style conscious females of the 1930’s.

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In 1937, as Earhart neared her 40th birthday, she was ready for a monumental, and final, challenge: she wanted to be the first woman to fly around the world. Despite a botched attempt in March that severely damaged her plane, a determined Earhart had the twin engine Lockheed Electra rebuilt. "I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system, and I hope this trip is it," she said. On June 1st, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan departed from Miami and began the 29,000-mile journey. By June 29th, when they landed in Lae, New Guinea, all but 7,000 miles had been completed. Frequently inaccurate maps had made navigation difficult for Noonan, and their next hop—to Howland Island—was by far the most challenging. Located 2,556 miles from Lae in the mid-Pacific, Howland Island is a mile and a half long and a half-mile wide. Every unessential item was removed from the plane to make room for additional fuel, which gave Earhart approximately 274 extra miles. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter ITASCA, their radio contact, was stationed just offshore of Howland Island. Two other U.S. ships, ordered to burn every light on board, were positioned along the flight route as markers. "Howland is such a small spot in the Pacific that every aid to locating it must be available," Earhart emphasised.

On July 2nd, At 10 am local time, zero Greenwich time, the pair took off. Despite ideal weather reports, they flew into overcast skies and intermittent rain showers. This made Noonan's favored method of tracking, celestial navigation, difficult. As dawn neared, Earhart called the ITASCA, reporting "cloudy weather, cloudy." In later transmissions, Earhart asked the ITASCA to take bearings on her. The ITASCA sent her a steady stream of transmissions but she could not hear them. Her radio transmissions, irregular through most of the flight, were faint or interrupted with static. At 7:42 am, the ITASCA picked up the message, "We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet." The ship tried to reply, but the plane seemed not to hear. At 8:45, Earhart reported, "We are running north and south." Nothing further was heard from her.

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A rescue attempt immediately commenced and became the most extensive air and sea search in naval history. On July 19th, after spending $4 million and scouring 250,000 square miles of ocean, the United States government reluctantly called off the operation. In 1938, a lighthouse was constructed on Howland Island in her memory, and across the United States, streets, schools, and airports are named after Earhart. Her birthplace, Atchison, Kansas, became a virtual shrine to her memory. Amelia Earhart awards and scholarships are given out every year.

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Despite many theories, no proof of Earhart’s fate exists. There is no doubt, however, that the world will always remember Amelia Earhart for her courage, vision, and groundbreaking achievements, both in aviation and for women.

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The archetypal outlaw ‘biker’ image has been synonymous with American popular culture since the release of the iconic film, The Wild One (1953). Marlon Brando’s portrayal of fictional motorcycle gang leader Johnny Strabler, a leather-clad, Harley-Davidson-riding persona, resonated with a whole post-World War II generation wanting to rebel against 1950s traditionalist society by living on its edge and adopting the biker’s leather uniform. Some became ‘outlaw biker gangs’, a paradox of freedom-worshipping non-conformists, loyally bound by self-imposed by-laws as a tight-banded brotherhood, becoming the modern incarnation of the romanticised outlaws previously upheld by the likes of pirates and cowboys.

These gangs became a myth in themselves, steeped in negative association within the public’s subconscious; especially in mainstream media during the 1960s, after the infamous Hell’s Angels gang from California became recognised for widespread gang violence, theft, drug-dealing and murder, highlighted in the book Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1966), by counterculture icon Hunter S. Thompson.

By 1968 the Vietnam War was in full scale escalation and back home the United States was undergoing radical sociological and cultural changes with racial tension at an all time high, ongoing student revolution against the establishment and a general sense of unease permeating the nation. Drafted soldiers returning from their tour of duty in South East Asia were not met with open arms, they were shunned and treated as pariahs. While many tried to integrate themselves back into society, others were unable to fit into the normality of daily life so turned to an alternatively lifestyle where the motorcycle provided the freedom to live a life devoid of any rules or regulations.

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Often long haired and bearded, these were men living outside of social conventions and would later be described as 'Counter Culture'. Movies including Easy Rider and The Losers sought to catalogue these bikers and along with media sensationalism brought them to the attention of the mainstream who viewed them as dangerous outsiders and radicals. Many vets joined motorcycle clubs such as the Hell's Angels while others aimlessly drifted across the country in search of some kind of meaning to what they had witnessed in combat or simply tried to forget. The expanse and spiritualism of the South Western States attracted many as did Mexico. South of the border became a popular destination at this time for bikers due to the relative lawlessness and easy access to narcotics. Psychedelic drugs in particular were a major factor in the lifestyle of the this new breed of rider as was the music he listened to.

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Blending motorcycle garments with their military issue gear and South Western textiles and trinkets they'd pick up along the way, their appearance became a hybrid of functional clothing incorporating hippie and Native American. The look was completely at odds with the slick style of their 1950's brethren and would last well into the 1970s. These men had adopted a carefree, nomadic lifestyle, audacious machismo and visual icon status, and hit the open road with a rebellious vision. 

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ELMC celebrates this Counter Culture lifestyle with period accurate reproductions from this era, including a very special collaboration with Southern Californian artisan J Augur on a series of one off bags crafted from antique US Military and South Western Native American textiles.

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Merry Christmas from all at Eastman Leather Clothing!

One of the lesser known photojournalists in Vietnam was actually the son of Hollywood royalty. Sean Flynn was the only child of the marriage of Errol Flynn and Lili Damita. After studying briefly at Duke University, Flynn abandoned a lukewarm film career to join a band of intrepid journalists documenting the civil wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. At first, Flynn drew international attention merely by virtue of being the even-more-handsome son of his movie-star father entering a combat zone. He and his colleagues' brazen lifestyle and daring work in the field became the stuff of legend and inspired a cast of colorful characters in war films and literature. More significant, their photos, shot within the frenzied theater of combat, became pivotal in exposing Americans at home to the brutality and ambiguous profit of their military's involvement in the region. But their contribution was not without cost: at least 37 journalists were killed or went missing in Cambodia during the 1970-1975 war between the U.S.-backed military government and the North Vietnamese
411 Photos taken in Vietnam 1970 capturing US troops opening fire on a Viet Cong sniper who had been firing on a US forward base. 57 214 125 73 62      
Steve McQueen was well known as an unapologetic Hollywood bad boy but a relatively unknown story is how McQueen almost ended up a part of the Manson massacre, and could have shared in Sharon Tate and the other
Singer Bing Crosby sometimes dismissed as simply a crooner, was in fact, according to jazz historian Gary Giddins,
MikeForceInspection-1 Special Forces personnel began serving in the Republic of Vietnam in 1957. During the early days of the Vietnam military buildup, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy sent Special Forces Units to South Vietnam in a special advisory capacity. In September 1962, United States Special Forces, Vietnam (Provisional) was formed from members of the First Group, stationed on Okinawa, and the Fifth and Seventh Groups from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Studies and Observations Group (aka SOG, MACSOG, and MACV-SOG) was a joint unconventional warfare task force created on 24 January 1964 as a subsidiary command of the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). The unit would eventually consist primarily of personnel from the US Army Special Forces, the US Navy SEAL's, the US Airforce, the CIA, and elements of the USMC Recon units. 001rqr10 The soldiers, operating in small units, created many patch designs which were locally manufactured and, in many cases, handmade. The first insignia, of course, was the beret flash, which combined the yellow from the first group, black from the Fifth, and red from the Seventh and incorporated them with a bend with bundles that represented the flag of the Republic of Vietnam. This flash, designed by Colonel George Morton, eventually became the insignia of the Fifth Special Forces Group. Popular among the recon teams known as "Mike Force," which is the universal corruption of "Mobile Strike Force". DSC02849 The patches of the Vietnam War present an interesting study in that this was the first time where a fairly large number of in-country made patches were developed by the soldiers fighting there. Many of the government issued patches had been redesigned since Korea and saw the introduction of the new subdued styles. Many of the MACV-SOG insignia were all originally hand-sewn, later reproduced machine-sewn versions can be found in many variants. This is due to the fact that many of the insignia made "in country" were unauthorised wear and preferred by Special Forces Soldiers for their unique individuality and flare, with no two exactly alike. Many patches were issued to Special Forces trained Indigenous Tribesman and new arrivals and/or new recon team members signifying their fighting skills and acceptance as being attached to the team. DSC03295 It is interesting to note that the Green Berets in many cases wore their patches secretly inside the Green Beret, hats or inside of shirts. It was placed there in keeping with the covert nature of their missions. They were secretly flashed to other members of the group or unit, but these patches were basically a private affair. In fact, images of skulls on patches or insignias were officially forbidden by the military. Besides recon teams, MACV-SOG also deployed exploitation teams or "hatchet teams" which were of platoon size and consisted of Americans and indigenous troops. The most famous of all highly classified areas of operations were along the Ho Chi Minh trail, into Cambodia and Laos. DSC02868 The insignia provided a sense of unity, achievement and belonging to represent significant events in a soldier's tour, an unrecognised battle, a particular subgroup or unofficial unit. Originally SOG teams were named after US States. As these were used up, names of snakes (for example, the Adder, Anaconda, and Cobra) became popular. The motto "We Kill For Peace" was almost universally used by these units.
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In the early 1970s, Steve McQueen was the man. He was the highest-paid star of the silver screen, a major sex symbol and an obsessed motorhead with a staggering collection of sports cars, four-wheelers and of course
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The dichotomy of Communism is no better illustrated than the fact that legendary socialist revolutionaries Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and Fidel Castro both wore Rolex watches. In fact Fidel Castro wore a sport model Rolex Submariner when he overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista during the Cuban Revolution in 1959. In this image from the LIFE Magazine archives we see Submariner wearing Castro standing on the balcony of the Hilton Hotel with friends after his triumphant entry into Havana, Cuba.
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His favoured timepiece however was a a no-crown guard Rolex GMT-Master 6542, although he did have a penchant for wearing two Rolex's at the same time on the same wrist, a Rolex Day Date and a Submariner as seen at the Kremlin with Khruschev.
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While some might say "Communism for the masses and capitalism for the bosses", it makes sense that in 1959 and through the 1960s that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara wore their Rolex watches as sturdy tool watches, because they were precise timing instruments. Remember this was before quartz watches. Also, in the early 1960s Rolex watches were not nearly as much of a status symbol or "Luxury Watch" as they are today, they were reliable machines built for a purpose and a great ally for a soldier, sailor or pilot.
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Che Guevara and Fidel Castro were fellow revolutionaries and long-time friends. After the Cuban revolution Che became the economic controller of Cuba before he took on a new mission in Bolivia. The photo below is the earliest known of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara together, and neither of them have what would later become their trademark beards. Fidel Castro was a lawyer, and Che Guevara was a doctor.
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Che's Rolex of choice was an Espresso GMT Master as shown below.
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The supreme irony is that Rolex became The International Mark Of Success not only in the West but in the Communist world. The father of the Chinese Communist Revolution Chairman Mao wore yellow gold Rolex watches as did Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Korean Supreme Commander. At least Che and Fidel had good taste!
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dues_cards_front_and_back 1953?s iconic biker movie The Wild One starring Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin, was loosely based on two actual California motorcycle clubs of the day having a highly charged clash in the small town of Hollister, CA. Brando portrayed 13 Rebels leader Shell Thuet, while Lee Marvin
Dog Wearing Military Medals Sergeant Stubby was the most decorated war dog of World War I and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat. Stubby was a stray Boston Terrier that appeared at Yale Field in New Haven, Connecticut while a group of soldiers were training. The dog hung around as the men drilled and one soldier, Corporal Robert Conroy, developed a fondness for the mutt. When it came time for the outfit to ship out, Conroy hid Stubby on board the troop ship. The story goes that upon discovery by Conroy's commanding officer, Stubby saluted him as he had been trained to in camp, and the commanding officer was so impressed that he allowed the dog to stay on board. America
4-frog-camo-01_174031 The first American attempt at a printed camouflage uniform came in 1940 when the US Army Corps of Engineers began experimenting with a disruptive-patterned overall that was tested but never issued. By 1942 the USA had joined WWII, and in July of that year the Quartermaster received an urgent request for 150,000 sets of jungle equipment from General Douglas MacArthur, who was high command of US troops in the South Pacific. Fortunately, the engineers had already tested the series of printed camouflage suits dubbed "frog-skin" or "leopard spot", and had shown them to the Quartermaster earlier that month. This pattern was chosen and rushed through testing and approval procedures in order to get the new uniforms out to troops as quickly as possible. Marine Photographer Bougainville 1944 A US Marine Raiders in the Solomon Islands were the first to receive the
untitled-1 As the Second World War progressed, altitudes got higher, speeds got faster, and temperatures grew colder so warmer clothing was required for pilots and aircrews. Most heavy bombing raids in Europe took place from altitudes of at least 25,000 ft, where it could reach temperatures as cold as minus 50 degrees Celsius. For fighter pilots, the temps grew even colder as they flew higher than the bombers. High casualties over Europe brought bomber air crews new equipment such as the M-3 Flak Helmet, made to fit over the B3 leather helmet, and also a kind of rudimentary early model Flak Vest made by the British Wilkinson Company. With the need and use for such additional amour for flight crews, problems arose on how it was all going to fit on a person. Aircraft were just not insulated against such cold and freezing air so heavy flight clothing was certainly essential. Leather flight jackets such as the A-2, B-3 and G-1 were all functional but the problems of high altitude flight along with the heavy weight and the encumbrance of such thick clothing begged another solution. The need for shearling lined jackets at high altitude was apparent but in the confines of a cockpit or gunning position they proved cumbersome and heavy. The US Army Air Forces Material Division had been developing a technically modern replacement for the leather clothing since 1942 and the Roughwear Clothing Company of Middletown, PA was selected to manufacture the new B-Series flight jackets in late 1943. Designated No 3157, the B-10 was the first cloth flight jacket to be issued and was designed to be worn with the matching A-9 tousers. With a shell made from a 100% fine cotton twilll, the jackets were lined with Alpaca pile which has incredible insulating qualities and a Mouton sheepskin collar similar to that found on the US Navy G-1 jacket. b0011623 The B-10 afforded the wearer all of the warmth found in the older B-3 and B-6 sheepskin jackets but the cotton twill outer meant the jacket was light and flexible, allowing for quick reactions that often meant the difference between life and death. Subsequent development quickly introduced the new Endzone Twill B-15 model, replacing the B-10 and seeing service right through the Korean War in its various modifications. From 1943 to 1945, military and personal photographs of the period show air crews wearing a wide plethora of flight gear and jackets, a mixed bag of issued flight equipment and apparel. Officers of one crew might be wearing an A2 jacket or AN-J-4 Shearling Jacket while several other lower ranks might be wearing an A4 Flight suit with a B-10 or B-15 Jacket worn over it. Several other crew members may have on a B-3 Shearling jacket. The assortment of jackets worn on any one mission by different crew members is astonishing and it seems that keeping warm and functionality was a very personal thing for each crew member. x1 Post WWII jet aircraft could fly at much higher altitudes and in much colder temperatures than propeller aircraft and were more streamlined in design. Cockpits were cramped and filled with new equipment. Speedy, unimpeded access to and exit from cockpits became even more critical for safety. The B-15
larry_burrows_1965_custom-13674c1a58c5269303616d528783ca48dd253d45-s6-c30 Englishman Larry Burrows was the most versatile press photographer of his generation, approaching each of his subjects and stories with the same curiosity and intensity, eager to learn and understand all about what he tried to express and show in his images. His greatest reportage came during the Vietnam war. Working for Life Magazine, Burrows immersed himself into the conflict, not only telling the stories of the average Grunt in-country but also attaching himself to US Special Forces including LRRP and SOG units behind enemy lines. Burrows01 His masterpiece was the classic Life photo essay
lieutjg-vincent-g-quillen-usnr-1943 The US Navy Ball Cap was very popular with the Navy and Marine pilots of WWII. These were non issue private purchase items usually obtained from the base PX. It was common for the name or number of their unit to be sewn or embroidered across the front. Original examples exist in a variety of colourways and fabrications. The most common being the navy wool with 6 panel construction. On or off duty, if they weren
elliott-gould-e-donald-sutherland-in-una-foto-promozionale-per-mash-23920 mash-1970 And then came Korea.... Possibly the greatest and most subversive commentary of the Korean conflict came in the form of Robert Altman's movie M*A*S*H. Rather than a straight war flick, Altman alongside a cast including Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould and Robert Duvall created a statement that analysed and deconstructed the madness of war through the eyes of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital doctors and nurses. Between exceptionally gory hospital shifts and countless rounds of Martinis, wisecracking surgeons Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre make it their business to undercut the smug, moralistic pretensions of Bible-thumper Maj. Frank Burns and regular Army true-believer Maj. "Hot Lips" Houlihan. Abetted by such other hedonists as Duke Forrest and Painless Pole, as well as (relative) innocent Radar O'Reilly, Hawkeye and Trapper John drive Burns and Houlihan crazy with ongoing practical jokes while engaging in such additional blasphemies as taking a medical trip to Japan to play golf, staging a mock Last Supper to cure Painless's momentary erectile dysfunction, and using any means necessary to win an inter-M*A*S*H football game. The movie creates a casual, chaotic but ultimately realistic atmosphere emphasising the constant noise and activity of a surgical unit near battle lines. Although the on-screen war was not Vietnam, M*A*S*H's satiric target was obvious in 1970, and Vietnam War-weary and counter-culturally hip audiences responded to Altman's nose-thumbing attitude towards all kinds of authority and embraced the film's tasteless yet evocative humour and its anti-war, anti-Establishment, anti-religion stance. mash3
s4 s2 s3 s5 s7 efcfbc688a785278_large The Apollo Space missions were designed to end in the ocean (which is why astronauts spent so much time practicing getting out of a capsule in swimming pools) but what if they missed the ocean entirely? For this contingency, NASA sent the astronauts to the jungle and the desert for survival training. The Apollo mission astronauts attended the Panama Jungle Survival School on Albrook Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone. Astronauts including Alfred Worden, Harrison Schmitt and Ronald Evans were present at the school in 1968 learning survival techniques from a local tribesman and US Special Forces.  
tumblr_lkaig479W91qz9tkeo1_500 69 years ago today the men of the Allied forces embarked upon the colossal endeavor to re take France and Europe from German occupation. Over the course of Operation Overlord and its extended campaign there were a total of 226,386 Allied casualties, approx 80,000 men lost their lives to this noble cause. The photograph above shows No 4 Commando preparing for their part in Operation Neptune.    
img349 img344 img345 img346 img348 Although automobile racing had occurred pre WW2 on the dry lakebeds of the Mojave desert it wasn't until after the War that the returning servicemen had developed the skills and knowledge to take it to the next level. Many of the original racers had become aircraft engineers at Edwards AFB and honed their Flathead tuning skills on the Allison engines of the P-51 Mustangs. Advancements with the jet aircraft engine also allowed for advancements in how fast an engineer could make an automobile run. Veterans also discovered that certain elements of their military issued gear blended easily into civilian life. Khaki pants and Navy dungarees were a common sight on the lakes following the War. USAAF Flight goggles and cloth helmets were very popular with drivers as were leather USAAF flight jackets such as the A-2 and B-3, as were Army M-41s and USN N-1s and G-1's, all are prevalent in images from this era. Clothing was strictly functional for the racers with warmth, durability and low cost the key criteria and their issued clothing served this purpose perfectly!  
M444 copy m42   m41 m43 Currently in development in the Eastman workshop is the much anticipated US Navy M-444. The jacket will form part of our 'original maker' range, emulating the version made by the Monarch Mfg Co. Authentic details such as labels, and the unique 'Anchor Brand' slide buckles, which are synonymous with the US Navy sheepskin jackets, have already been produced so it's release is imminent. The M-444 was the standard issue, intermediate weight, sheepskin flight jacket of the US Navy during the 1930s and early 40s. Produced in smaller quantities than its heavy weight counterparts, the M-445 and M-445A, original surviving examples are few and far between. The design is virtually identical to that of the M-445, and is often confused with it, however, the M-444 is made from a much lower pile fleece (1/4 inch, compared to 1 inch), making it more versatile for general use.
w4 w3 w2 w5 Well before World War II became imminent, women had already made their mark as pilots. Amelia Earhart, Jacqueline Cochran, Nancy Harkness Love, Bessie Coleman and Harriet Quimby were only a few of the women record-holders in aviation. In 1939, women were allowed for the first time to be part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program, a program designed to train college students to fly, with an eye to national defense. Women were limited by quota to one woman for every ten men in the program. Jackie Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love separately proposed the use of women pilots by the US Military. Cochran lobbied Eleanor Roosevelt, writing a 1940 letter urging that a women's division of the Air Force be established especially to ferry planes from manufacturing plants to military bases. With no such American program supporting the Allies in their war effort, Cochran and 25 other American women pilots joined the British Air Transportation Auxiliary. Shortly after, Nancy Harkness Love was successful in getting the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) established, and a few women were hired. Jackie Cochran returned to establish the Women's Flying Training Detachment (WFTD). On August 5, 1943, these two efforts -- WAFS and WFTD -- merged to become the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), with Cochran as director. More than 25,000 women applied -- with requirements including a pilot's license and many hours experience. The first class graduated on December 17, 1943. The women had to pay their own way to the training program in Texas. A total of 1830 were accepted into training and 1074 women graduated from WASP training during its existence, plus 28 WAFS. The women were trained "the Army way" and their graduation rate was similar to that for male military pilots. The WASP was never militarized, and those who served as WASP's were considered civil service employees. There was considerable opposition to the WASP program in the press and in Congress. General Henry "Hap" Arnold, US Army Air Force commander, first supported the program, then disbanded it. The WASP was deactivated December 20, 1944, having flown around 60 million miles in operations. Thirty-eight WASP's were killed, including some during training. Records of WASP were classified and sealed, so historians minimized or ignored the women pilots. In 1977 -- the same year the Air Force graduated its first post-WASP women pilots -- Congress granted veteran status to those who had served as WASP, and in 1979 issued official honorable discharges. You can find the Eastman reproduction 1944 pattern womens B-17 flight jacket here, specifically designed for the WASP's, the B-17 was the female version of the B-15. Also available is the WASP squadron patch in the Eastman Insignia category, the authentic chenille patch features Fifinella, a female gremlin designed by Walt Disney for a proposed film from Roald Dahl's book The Gremlins.

gc-hellsangels3 pp-hellsangels pp-hellsangelscrew The end of World War II saw young men returning from combat in droves. Many found the transition back to a peaceful civilian life a more monotonous chore than they could handle. While at War, be they Army Air Corps flight crews, Seamen, Infantrymen, Airborne or Marines, the one constant thread that was sewn throughout these men was the ubiquitous post-mission celebration. Upon their successful return from combat missions, marines, airmen, soldiers and sailors retired to the nearest drinking establishment in an attempt to drown the memories of battle with booze, to heal the scars of armed conflict with laughter, and to try and feel human again, if only for a short while. These men became brothers born of warfare, atrocity, and death, a kinship that runs deeper than blood relations. It is also important to consider the ages of these men: the average age of WWII servicemen was only 26. Many returning combat vets reported feelings of restlessness and a general malaise; their pre-war personalities had been forever changed. It seems logical that the horrors of war and the hell of combat may have melted down the pre-war personalities of these men only to recast them forever in a new form, a form that didn