07 February 2009
You're lookin' at a piece of clothing that first made me really realize what was about to happen in my life. It was all kind of a blur... I had signed up to go to flight school. Me, Ole Prairie Dog, and a couple other guys from our OCS class had traveled to Ft. Wolters, Texas to begin our primary flight training. Putting on our flight jackets... and looking like real aviators... that was when the full realization of what was about to happen to us became apparent.
I've worn a jacket similar to that one now for 41 years. A jacket almost exactly like the one in the photo hangs in my closet today. The jacket I wear when I fly the BK117 is very similar, differing in that it is made of fire-resistent Nomex, and it is black in color with reflective strips on the back. The pockets in the one I wear at work have zippers instead of snaps. But look at the left sleeve. See the vertical zipper there?
My new jacket also has that same zipper...
It's the cigarette pocket.
I have never smoked. I've probably owned a dozen or so jackets similar to the one in the picture, but I have never had a pack of cigarettes in that pocket.
I'm at work today and I just checked... my spare pair of earplugs are in there, alongside a small Swiss Army knife. They are there just because the pocket is there and I hate for it to be empty.
But I was thinking on my way to work this morning...
"How much extra does it cost to put that pocket on all the flight jackets being produced today? What percentage of aviators today actually smoke? What company will be the first to realize they can cut costs by eliminating the (unnecessary?) pocket?"
I bet they're gone within ten years.
And that led me to another thought...
My Dad always smoked, and he always used Zippo lighters.
I bet the old ones will have collector value at some point in the