Interwar Pilot Finds & the Psychology of Leather

16 Apr

I have to warn you, folks: Today I have no insights into the writing process, only interwar period finds and musings on the possible mentalities of some of the earliest airplane pilots in history.

So I was doing some random browsing on the internet the other day…

…as is my idle habit at times, and came across these photographs of a French leather flight helmet from the interwar period (1918-1939).  I think they’re simply beautiful:

French Airaile flight helmet from the Interwar period (1918-1939). Source: militaryheadgear.com

 

French Airaile flight helmet from the Interwar period (1918-1939). Source: militaryheadgear.com

Idk, there’s just something about leather, folks.

…Whaaa?  What is this?  Why are we talking about leather?

People, I love leather.  Let me tell you: I’ve got three pairs of leather boots, a sweet leather jacket, leather belts, several leather purses and handbags…and yes, even leather gloves to top off the collection.

Brazilian leather boots--bought during a ridiculous clearance, of course! (They look black here, but they're actually a dark green.)

Do I wear them all at once?  Of course not.  That would be silly.

>_>

(I don’t wear them often, though.  The boots, I mean.  I get the “are you a model?” question when I do, and sometimes with my jacket, as well.  And since I don’t model, it’s kind of annoying because people don’t believe me!  lol)

The Psychology of Leather

What is it about leather that makes certain folks go batty for it?

They say it’s a symbol of masculinity and power.  So what, does that make women who wear it power-hungry?

Maybe.

Maybe it’s just that being wrapped up tight in leather can make you feel all warm and comfortable and safe–invincible, even.

Maybe it’s a little of all these things, and something more.

For some, like me, you could say it’s almost a kind of fetish–not in the weird, kinky way that I’m sure Western society has ingrained into many minds.  (Okay, this is getting weird…)  Just a particularly strong liking for it.  Perhaps even in the mystical way that it is imbued with superpowers.  (Why else would a leather suit be associate with superhero status?)  And wouldn’t you know, it’s just one other thing that’s leaked over to my heroine and will pop up in my writing every now and then.

I can’t help it.  Leather–real, organic animal hide–is a beautiful material.  Plus, it just feels good.

It’s a quality thing.  Maybe it’s even a little bit primal.  It’s stylish, classic…and even when worn down by time, it remains timeless.

Maybe you understand; maybe you don’t.  (Though, I’m not-so-secretly hoping you do!)

I betchya Amelia Earhart understood it very well, as she was sometimes clad in it:

Amelia Earhart in Newfoundland (1928). From Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

I could only imagine how good it must feel for a pilot to pull a nice snug, leather flying cap onto his/her head. *sighs* It makes me wonder how Amelia felt in her flying gear.

The Psychology of Individual Articles

Here’s what I think: Hats, leather or otherwise, can make you feel safe; so can a leather jacket.  The jacket can also give you a sense of assuredness, that things will turn out all right.  Gloves (I’m guessing Amelia wore some while flying) are kind of an official statement; they say, “I’m ready to take on this mission put before me.”

And the boots…well, those just finish it all off, don’t they?  A good tug on those laces and you’re set to go.  If anything is a sign of power, a message that “I can do anything,” it’s a good pair of knee-high leather boots.  (Thigh-high?  Well, there’s a difference between “check me out” and “pick me up.”  The difference is but inches.)

Of course, there’s a practical side to all that gear: It protected pilots who flew in open cockpits from brisk winds.  Even so, leather on its own is simply amazing.

Enough about leather!  What about flying?

Well, what about it?  Closest I’ve been to planes are airliners, and I obviously didn’t get to play pilot.  And I won’t be hopping into the cockpit of a biplane any time soon.  In the meantime, I will be checking out this nifty little flight simulator (probably after I graduate and have some more time to get lost in it).  See how that goes.

This game has been around for a while now, but that won’t keep me from trying it.  Here’s the blurb about it off Microsoft’s website:

The year is 1937. The United States has shattered under the combined weight of the Great Depression, regional Prohibition and mounting isolationism. The transcontinental railroad and the budding highway system have become useless as they now cross hostile borders. Commerce and trade leave the ground as air travel now becomes a vital lifeline connecting allied countries — and a national obsession — while daring air pirates and valiant air militias battle for control of the skies. Giant zeppelins crisscross the skies, carrying both passengers and cargo. It is a time of gunship diplomacy and airship piracy. It is the age of the fighter pilot and a time of daredevil adventure and sinister intrigue. It is the world of Crimson Skies…

I mean, why wouldn’t you want to play something like that?

The game’s plane models are more advanced than I was looking for, but oh well.  Still looks like fun.  Too bad this isn’t on the Xbox 360, as that’s how I like to roll…

Oh, snap–they’ve got it on the regular ol’ Xbox!  It’s a date.

Okay, so before I go…there’s actually one other little reason why I think leather is amazing:

Introducing U.S. Air Mail pilot William C. “Wild Bill” Hopson--striking a cocky pose before a flight from Omaha to Chicago in 1921. Source: Amazons link to Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: An Autobiography.

Bottom line: There is nothing like a man in a suit.

Note to self: one day I’ve got to base a character off that man…

(Okay, you know how they say not to judge a book by its cover?   Well, I confess: I am 100% guilty of doing this.  The first time I encountered “Wild Bill” was in Mavericks of the Sky: The First Daring Pilots of the U.S. Air Mail, and I probably picked up the book because he was smack-dab on the cover–entirely pwning the cover, to be sure.  But really, I promise: It was a wonderful book!  Lots of insights into the dangers that pioneer pilots faced when scouting out the first airmail routes.  Those folks were crazy-brave.)

So, I guess the real question is: Does anyone else have an insatiable craving for leather, or am I just weird?

Or maybe it isn’t leather for you.  Maybe it’s fluffy pink things.  Or white tennis shoes you can’t stand to get dirty.  Or…maybe you’re just normal.  That’s cool, too.

I guess. 😛

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8 Responses to “Interwar Pilot Finds & the Psychology of Leather”

  1. E.J. Apostrophe April 16, 2011 at 5:55 PM #

    This is an interesting post, Yoyo. Leather can definitely have two spectrum: tough guy look and sensuality. How amazing that this fabric can pull out these emotions. The media seem to focus on the sensual side a lot than the tough guy. What do you think?

    Like

    • Tiyana April 16, 2011 at 7:51 PM #

      Yeah! Strange, huh? I guess it just depends on how you wear it. Really, it can look sleazy, sly, slick, sophisticated… (Alliteration intentional. :P)

      But the media does seem to focus on drawing out the masculinity of men and the sensuality of females when they wear leather. I admire Amelia in that her style manages to float somewhere comfortably in between. More androgynous, I think.

      Like

  2. T. S. Bazelli April 18, 2011 at 9:00 AM #

    Leather’s also a big part of the steampunk aesthetic. I like leather, not black leather for some reason, but various shades of rich brown. Maybe because it seems warmer? Brings out the richness? Old leather’s got character to it as well, it wears out in certain places, gets more comfortable, and molds into place. So yes! I like it too!

    Like

    • Tiyana April 18, 2011 at 11:19 AM #

      Oh yes, so true about steampunk!

      I think I prefer brown leathers, as well. Especially the caramel-y ones. They are very rich, indeed.

      Like

  3. Stephen A. Watkins April 19, 2011 at 12:04 PM #

    Deliciously Steampunk. 😀

    Like

    • Tiyana April 19, 2011 at 1:57 PM #

      I love steampunk, but I hope I’m not writing it! It’s quite popular and I’ve wanted to do something different.

      With all this interwar stuff I guess I’m kind of exploring what steampunk would morph into three to four decades down the road. Dieselpunk + mystery element = ???

      I think my WIP would be dieselpunk (like “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”), were it not for the mystery element, heh. But I totally adore the whole steampunk aesthetic and am immensely inspired by it. ^_^

      P.S.: OMG, Stephen, you just gave me my next blog topic. You are lifesaver!

      Like

  4. Nickolas Gautreaux February 28, 2012 at 6:53 AM #

    Really neat weblog article.Really thank you! Keep writing.

    Like

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