Starting in 2014, I began photographing World War Two flight jackets, otherwise known as "bomber jackets." Initially fascinated just with the artwork, the stories of the owners began to emerge, and the jackets became an appropriate way to tell those stories. Over the course of these eight years, over 160 jackets have been photographed across the nation, and over 50 portraits of WWII veterans, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS), and original "Rosie the Riveters" have been created.
Numerous museum's welcomed us into their halls, including the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, The 390th Memorial Museum, the March Field Museum, the Planes of Fame Museum, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Indiana Military Museum, the Minnesota Historical Society, among others.
When possible, individuals were interviewed, and in many cases personal recollections were gathered from family members and other sources. Many of the stories have never been heard, or warrant retelling, and all are unique. Included in the mix are several Tuskegee Airmen portraits, and sixteen original women pilots who served with the WASP's, including several centenarians. Many have now passed away, along with their stories.
Commissioned for the book was a chapter on how these jackets influenced fashion design worldwide, written by noted fashion historian Laura McLaws Helms. A professional conservator wrote a section on how to care for the jackets, and a well known appraiser has written about collecting jackets without losing your shirt, establishing provenance and valuation, and general thoughts on long term care.
Lastly, the book has an index, something other books on the subject lack. An e-book is planned for the future, and several exhibitions have already occurred, with more under development. We believe there is enough material to support the creation of a documentary film as well.
In August of 2023 the book was awarded a Silver in the Print/Books category of the 2024 Graphis Design competition. This is our second Silver in an international design competition, with this award being a very big deal in the graphic arts world. We are in discussion now with several corporate entities regarding the book as a possible Christmas gift.
Books are available to order at www.WWIIBomberBoys.com.