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MA-1 jackets

TrenchGuy

One of the Regulars
Messages
123
Location
Finland
Hello! I own a black MA-1 jacket made by Alpha Industries and I would like to hear what you Loungers think about that kind of flight jackets. I personally like mine alot, it's really comfortable and stylish, a real classic jacket.

I'm just wondering, are they any good for cold weather? I'm talking about cold weather like -20 celsius.
 

Atticus Finch

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,717
Location
Coastal North Carolina, USA
Hello! I own a black MA-1 jacket made by Alpha Industries and I would like to hear what you Loungers think about that kind of flight jackets. I personally like mine alot, it's really comfortable and stylish, a real classic jacket.

I'm just wondering, are they any good for cold weather? I'm talking about cold weather like -20 celsius.

The MA-1 is my favorite flight jacket. It has been since someone gave me my first one in 1976. Sadly, some folks now associate it with the skinhead "movement" because it seems to be favored by that group. Regardless, I think it is the warmest, most comfortable flight jacket ever issued and I wear mine frequently, skinhead association or no.

This is an original 1972 Alpha...the temperature was just above zero F when this photo was taken. I wouldn't have wanted to spend an entire day outside in such weather wearing nothing but the MA-1, but it was fine for walking around an hour or so.

winterdec09002-1-1.jpg


AF
 

Seb Lucas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,573
Location
Australia
I have an Alpha from about 10 years ago. I like them but they tend to look better on others. I'm tall and thin and they look kind of puffy and short on me. I'd like a different cut. You see lots of fake ones or similar MA 1 inspired jackets over here. I like the thick DuPont nylon/satin.
 

Justhandguns

Practically Family
Messages
766
Location
London
I personally prefer the L-2B, which is the warm weather version of the MA-1. I had an all black Alpha MA-1 a while ago, in terms of style, I find the modern MA-1 a bit bulky, it looks almost like a balloon on me! But of course, if you like the insulation, it is quite tough to beat with a relatively light jacket. But I must say it is a classic.
 

bretron

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,478
Location
NW
Love my Buzz Rickson x William Gibson MA1 Long the best. The fact that it's a long means you can size "down" to make a slimmer fit, but still at a size that actually fits! No marshmellow affect on this one! You just can't beat the BRs for quality or "authenticity," but you gotta be willing to drop the coin.

However, my all time favorite nylon flight (and maybe even more than an A2) is the B-15 B Mod- hands down the coolest of the lot IMO.
 
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/|\

One of the Regulars
Messages
166
Location
Birch Bay
When I was a kid an F-4 pilot from NAS Miramar gave me a WEP jacket. I still have it. When it needed to be cleaned, my mom's boyfriend loaned me his (issue) MA-1. I was appalled! A good 'Navy brat' wearing an Air Force flight jacket? But I wore it anyway. I have a few MA-1s, but I almost never wear them. For as long as I can remember, they make me look fatter than I already am. (Same goes for my Flightsuits Ltd. WEP jacket copy -- but not the originals.) I like the 'vintage-ness' of MA-1s, but I'm just not fond of the way they look on me.

My flight jacket of choice for cold weather is a CWU-45/P (as in my avatar). Usually though, not in cold weather, I wear a 45/P-style unlined royal blue Nomex jacket from Flightsuits Ltd.
 

fnoprx

Familiar Face
Messages
77
Location
Copenhagen, Denmark
The MA-1 is a classic design, and an extremely functional jacket, as long as you get a "real" one (or a good replica). My main problem, especially living in Europe, is the "racist skinhead" associations, which have actually kept me from wearing mine. For me, the solution came when I bought a B15C replica: this has all the good points of the MA-1 plus a nice fur collar and much less of a "racist" vibe.
 

Atticus Finch

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,717
Location
Coastal North Carolina, USA
The MA-1 is a classic design, and an extremely functional jacket, as long as you get a "real" one (or a good replica). My main problem, especially living in Europe, is the "racist skinhead" associations, which have actually kept me from wearing mine. For me, the solution came when I bought a B15C replica: this has all the good points of the MA-1 plus a nice fur collar and much less of a "racist" vibe.

I try to minimize the neo-Nazi look of MA-1s by only wearing originals and by making sure the jackets are modestly patched. When I buy a MA-1 or an L-2b, I determine its date of manufacture by checking its DA or DSA number. Then I apply an original wing patch of the same vintage to the right chest. I normally use a Tactical Air Command or Strategic Air Command patch, either of which can be easily found on ebay. I also usually apply a leather name strip (with my father's name and rank) or just an empty plastic tag holder to the left chest.

I realize that one walks a thin line when patching an original flight jacket. It is easy to come off looking like a "wannabe". One should make sure the jacket and the unit patch are both from the same vintage, and, of course, from the same branch of service. Silly as it seems, I’ve seen civilians wearing Air Force jackets bedecked with Marine Corps and Navy patches. One should also shy away from using patches that make the jacket personal to an individual. Nowadays, I don’t even like to use squadron patches for fear of making the jacket look like a “trophy” I didn’t earn.

But the upside is, a properly and modestly patched, original MA-1 doesn’t look skinhead…it just looks like a cool vintage flight jacket.

AF
 

bretron

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,478
Location
NW
My main problem, especially living in Europe, is the "racist skinhead" associations, which have actually kept me from wearing mine. For me, the solution came when I bought a B15C replica: this has all the good points of the MA-1 plus a nice fur collar and much less of a "racist" vibe.

For me the solution is stay away from Fred Perrys and the Klan, while wearing my vintage Malcolm X cap from the early 90s!!

VINTAGE-DEADSTOCK-MALCOLMX-SNAPBACK-AUCTION.002.jpg


Seriously, though, its a good point. Especially, now that tight jeans are so common. I generally wear Chuck Taylors r/t my usual work boots when sporting my flights.
 

Jack Burton

One of the Regulars
Messages
165
Location
Earth
Without rolled up jeans, Doc Martens and/or suspenders, I'm not sure how any logical person would mistake someone for being a skinhead simply because they're wearing an MA-1. That's ridiculous. Then again, people who love to be offended often are just that, ridiculous.
 

Atticus Finch

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,717
Location
Coastal North Carolina, USA
Actually, I don't know that I've ever met a real skinhead. We don't seem to have them here in Eastern North Carolina, for whatever reason. Maybe the mosquitoes are too bad for them here. The only reason I know about the MA-1/skinhead association is because I read about it on another forum...and I've seen photos of skinheads wearing MA-1 like jackets.

But about two years ago, every defendant in our local District Court began appearing at calendar call wearing crappy reproduction oversized MA-1s. That is, unless the defendant was a woman, in which case she came wearing a crappy reproduction undersized N2-B. It was almost enough to make me give up wearing vintage nylon flight jackets. Thankfully, my defendants...because they really are cutting-edge, style conscious individuals....soon abandoned their oversized MA-1s in favor of cartoon hoodies and oversized starter jackets. This is a good thing. I don't have any vintage cartoon hoodies or starter jackets in my jacket collection and so there's now much less danger of my steppin' on their style.

AF
 
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gpotski

New in Town
Messages
13
Location
Ohio
Love my Buzz Rickson x William Gibson MA1 Long the best. The fact that it's a long means you can size "down" to make a slimmer fit, but still at a size that actually fits! No marshmellow affect on this one! You just can't beat the BRs for quality or "authenticity," but you gotta be willing to drop the coin.

However, my all time favorite nylon flight (and maybe even more than an A2) is the B-15 B Mod- hands down the coolest of the lot IMO.

I also love my Buzz Rickson MA-1. I wore it all last winter in Ohio, and it was plenty warm

BuzzRickson1.jpg
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,426
Location
London, UK
The MA-1 is my favorite flight jacket. It has been since someone gave me my first one in 1976. Sadly, some folks now associate it with the skinhead "movement" because it seems to be favored by that group. Regardless, I think it is the warmest, most comfortable flight jacket ever issued and I wear mine frequently, skinhead association or no.

I have just received in the post, via an eBay auction, a Buzz Rickson B15C Mod. I prefer the original B15-C design, but this came at a really nice price, mint, less than half new price. Comparing it to my Alpha Replica Series B15C, the latter holds up surprisingly well, the one really significant difference (collar aside, of course) being that the Buzz has the old-style wool lining beneath the nylon inner layer, while the Alpha is, afaik, a more modern polyester. Both are a fairly puffy fit, though not to a ridiculous degree. Certainly very acceptably so, given that I wore the B15 last winter in circumstances where I might otherwise wear an Irvin or a B3. Almost as warm as the shearling, in my experience. Also, nylon is better in the wet. In driving rain, I suppose the knit collar of an MA1 style would be less prone to getting unpleasantly soggy and cold in the way a fluffy B15 collar might.

Regarding the skinhead association, this does seem to attach particularly to (copies of) the later MA1 with the orange safety lining. I do think it's a real shame that the whole skinhead culture has become retrospectively viewed as inherently racist. This was a later add-on that only ever affected a small proportion of the movement - not unlike the popular perception that all motorcycle clubs, or even motorcyclists, are criminal types, or that someone who has tattoos must be 'that sort', and so on. The skinhead look isn't for me personally but it was, and still is, such a strong, working class look. They listened to reggae, ska, and other music of black origin. There - still are, actually I saw one guy at a Stiff Little Fingers concert last week - black and Asian skinheads. I love to see that, to see it being taken back to what it was and should be. I'm careful about it myself. I'd like to think that noone would mistake my more rockabilly moments for that sort of skinhead when I venture out in denim and a Harrington, though I do think about these things as I shave my head. I was once asked by a feral teenager "Are you a gay?", a negative reply swiftly followed by "Are you a Nazi?" I can only assume it was the shaved head that inspired this - at the time I was dressed in a very psychobilly fashion (white brothel creepers, black drainpipes, leopard print, fluffy shirt, black leather perfecto style jacket). I typically wear an eight panel cap with those sorts of jacket, though, which helps avoid the look.

I personally prefer the L-2B, which is the warm weather version of the MA-1. I had an all black Alpha MA-1 a while ago, in terms of style, I find the modern MA-1 a bit bulky, it looks almost like a balloon on me! But of course, if you like the insulation, it is quite tough to beat with a relatively light jacket. But I must say it is a classic.

I'd love a blue L2A to compliment my blue B15s, but I can't find an Alpha Replica or even Vintage in my size (wish they would bring those series back), and the Buzz option, while beautifully made, is, frankly, an obscene price for an uninsulated, nylon jacket. The B15s (my B15C Mod being essentially an MA1 in all but name) are bulkier than, say, an A2, but they are cold weather jackets. They're both cult to an older pattern, so not that silly bulk that you get with more recent options, even modern issue A2s sometimes.

The MA-1 is a classic design, and an extremely functional jacket, as long as you get a "real" one (or a good replica). My main problem, especially living in Europe, is the "racist skinhead" associations, which have actually kept me from wearing mine. For me, the solution came when I bought a B15C replica: this has all the good points of the MA-1 plus a nice fur collar and much less of a "racist" vibe.

Funny the difference the collar makes. I don't think people jump to that assumption just so often these days unless you go for the full skin look, but unfortunately there is still that stereotype about (even though it must have been ten years or more since I last saw a skinhead that was clearly of the racist element.... well, apart from the pathetic, gone to seed old geezers in the EDL...).


For me the solution is stay away from Fred Perrys and the Klan, while wearing my vintage Malcolm X cap from the early 90s!!

VINTAGE-DEADSTOCK-MALCOLMX-SNAPBACK-AUCTION.002.jpg


Seriously, though, its a good point. Especially, now that tight jeans are so common. I generally wear Chuck Taylors r/t my usual work boots when sporting my flights.

My nylon jackets are more likely to be worn with jeans, but as they're all Winter jackets, typically I'm also wearing a nice sweater or a shirt, cardigan and cravat..... I may have a shaved head, but it'd be hard for anyone to make that assumption about me from that and an MA1 alone! ;)

Without rolled up jeans, Doc Martens and/or suspenders, I'm not sure how any logical person would mistake someone for being a skinhead simply because they're wearing an MA-1. That's ridiculous. Then again, people who love to be offended often are just that, ridiculous.

Yes, there are indeed people about who love to be offended. Tragically, more often this is offended by how someone else dresses or looks than about the content of their character.

There's skinheads, and there's skinheads...there is a difference!

Very much so. It's a real shame that it has gotten to the point where the Nazi skins are what people typically think of - it's such a strong, working class look. Probably the last truly significant British youth cult look to rise up from the street. The only thing that approaches it in terms of tribal identity (loosely speaking) since is hip hop, which is really a very American thing (not that there is anything wrong with that of course).
 

fnoprx

Familiar Face
Messages
77
Location
Copenhagen, Denmark
Really excellent points Edward! I like Dr. Martens, and I like flight jackets - well, I like a lot of elements of the original skinhead style, but I don't think anyone would confuse me for a skinhead. So I think I will start wearing my black Alpha MA-1 again - as a nod to William Gibson and Pattern Recognition. The book that 1) got me fascinated with Buzz Rickson and 2) started a long interest in vintage jackets.
 

Fifty150

One Too Many
Messages
1,452
Location
The Barbary Coast
I like Dr Martens. Good shoes if you get the ones made in England. Some of the Made in China versions are pretty good. Some are terrible. But you pair the shoes with the flight jacket, then you've got an instant stereotype. The only times that I don't like wearing my flight jackets are on a hot day, and in the rain. When it's pouring outside, I want something a little bit more water repellant. As for the patches....I don't think you should wear a mission patch that wasn't issued to you. Just like you wouldn't put motorcycle club patches on your leather, unless you were actually a member of that club. You might as well walk around in a blue windbreaker with big yellow "FBI" letters.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,426
Location
London, UK
Unless you go for the full on look, drainpipe jeans, braces and all, I doubt anyone is going to much notice these days, especially if you don't have a shaved head or the buzzcut. Funnily enough, I've worn my B15-CMod (essentially an MA1 before they started making them like that to being with and calling them an MA1) out today and nobody has so much as given me a second glance. [huh]

I'm not much a fan of patched up jackets, myself. My interest in flying jackets lies in the jackets themselves rather than their military association specifically, so I prefer them plain for civilian wear for the most part. Part of me would love to have an AVG patched and blood-chitted A2, but I don't know when exactly I'd ever wear it. Indy / gangster / whatever comments never phased me, but I know it'd drive me nuts each and every time I got the inevitable Top Gun comment. It' not something that I particularly have strong feelings about others doing (as distinct from trying to pass themselves off as ex or current military to their own advantage in whatever way), though.
 

TrenchGuy

One of the Regulars
Messages
123
Location
Finland
I usually wear black combat boots and blue jeans with my MA-1 jacket... People might think I'm a skinhead, but my hair is 3 inches long though...
 
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