Press Release

Flight Gear: Pilot Equipment from the Open-Cockpit Era



CONTACT: Charles Schuler    
Associate Deputy Airport Director
Communications & Marketing  
(650) 821-5031   


Flight Gear: Pilot Equipment from the Open-Cockpit Era
New exhibition features historic objects and images from the opening of the Air Age.  


San Francisco – The invention of the airplane in 1903 was followed by a specialized line of equipment designed to meet the needs of its operator and new master of the air—t he aviator. A variety of protective clothing was developed to mitigate the harsh conditions faced by early aviators prior to the enclosure of the pilot station within the fuselage of an aircraft.


Flight Gear: Pilot Equipment from the Open-Cockpit Era features more than forty examples of flight suits, jackets, helmets, goggles and other accessories dating from the 1910s to the 1940s. Photographs, advertising, and catalogue illustrations from the period accompany these artifacts. In addition to its practical necessity for open-cockpit flying, flight gear served as the identifier of a new breed. Set apart from the multitude of the earthbound, its wearer could not be mistaken for any other type. And, as the dramatic presence of the pilot-figure emerged in popular culture during the opening of the Air Age, flight gear became the costume of these intrepid daredevils of the sky.


Images from the exhibition are available for download at:


Flight Gear: Pilot Equipment from the Open-Cockpit Era is on view from Saturday, February 4, 2012 to Wednesday, August 1, 2012 and is located pre-security in the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum in the International Terminal Departures Level adjacent to the Boarding Area 'A' entrance.  The museum is open free of charge to all visitors during the operating hours of 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday through Friday. It is closed Saturdays, holidays, and during private events.  Telephone (650) 821-9900 or extension *1114 on any Airport courtesy telephone.  


SFO Museum

SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and providing educational services for the traveling public.  The Museum has been accredited by the American Association of Museums since 1999, and has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation.  For more information, please visit


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