Aviation Leathercraft is a part of Moto-Lita, the now famous British steering wheel company that I founded in 1958. The history of Moto-Lita is recorded on our web site, but in essence I started making steering wheels in the late 50s.
I made it my business to create thoughtful and pleasing designs and to use only the best materials and finest craft skills during production. People liked what we were doing. Stirling Moss and his contemporaries ordered our steering wheels and manufacturers such as AC Cobra, Aston Martin, Jaguar and almost all of the top marque car makers have, at some time, specified our steering wheels as original equipment. We have enjoyed, and are still enjoying, great success. The same thing seems to have happened with Aviation Leathercraft...
I’m a qualified and keen pilot and in 1977 I decided I wanted a real flying jacket. You know, a proper one; one like those you saw in the old movies and in the faded photographs of our heroic WWII pilots. I discovered that the jacket I sought (the one that small boys dream of as they pretend to be a daring Spitfire pilot), was the Irvin Sheepskin Flying Jacket used by RAF pilots. So, I did my research and made one (you can read more about that in The Irvin story). I loved it. It was warm, comfortable, ideal for flying and I must admit; wearing it felt rather good.
Other people liked my jacket too and it wasn’t long before we were asked to make some more. We began to accept orders and Aviation Leathercraft was born. It seemed to work out well. Supplies of war issue flying jackets were diminishing, yet demand for the jackets was high. We became very busy and our craftsmen did a grand job in meeting the demand for high-quality hand-made jackets. Then as now our jackets were popular with pilots, motoring enthusiasts, bikers and people who just wanted a great jacket for everyday use.
We found with Moto-Lita that if you’re doing something very, very well, word seems to spread and it wasn’t long before we had our first enquiry from one of the RAF Squadrons. They wanted me to work with them to design a leather flying jacket just for them - you can imagine what a buzz that was. We’ve since gone on to create bespoke jackets for most of the major British Squadrons, the Police, Fleet Air Arm, Army Air Corp and Air Ambulance crews, we’ve even designed and produced flight jackets for the NATO Tigers and The Red Arrows. both their team jacket and the 50th Anniversary jacket. And, we produce Irvin flying jackets and leather flight jackets for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
It was great fun working with the Squadrons because every time we had to discuss design features or look at material samples I had to visit them on base, which meant I could get up close to some of the most incredible aircraft.
In terms of working with the RAF, I guess the biggest feather in our cap and one of the many highlights we’ve enjoyed was being asked to design and create a flight jacket for them: not for a Squadron, but for the RAF itself!
Working with the RAF we designed a flight jacket that suited their needs and met their appropriately high standards. This jacket, the MoD Approved Pattern Aircrew Flying Jacket, is the only leather jacket included in the official dress code and it’s only available to serving officers. So, while you can’t have one, it’s perhaps nice to know that what has gone into the MoD approved flying jacket, the Squadron jackets and the inimitable Irvin - all of that skill and history, excellent materials and unrivalled British craftsmanship, has gone into your jacket too.
I hope you’ll enjoy looking around our site and I hope that you will want to buy one of our jackets, and remember if you do, you’re not just buying a jacket - you’re owning and becoming part of a great British tradition of excellence in craftsmanship and endeavour.