Flight has always been a challenging activity for the human body, with stresses of oxygen, pressure, G-forces, and temperature. Early pioneers in open cockpit aircraft had to deal with extreme cold, but as jet engines were introduced and speeds became faster, the opposite effect took place. The friction of a supersonic aircraft against the air outside produces heat, combine this with an increasing amount of safety and survival gear worn by pilots, plus the glare of the sun at high-altitude and you have uncomfortable environment for said aviator. The British solution developed in the 1950s was the Air Ventilated Suit (AVS). Worn beneath ones flying gear, the suit was a fine nylon skin, and a layer of PVC tubes that would be fed by cold air helping the pilot to remain comfortable. They would serve with the RAF into the 70s.
This early mk2 dates from around 1958, and was made by G.Q. Parachute Co. Surry. It's without doubt the most intricately created garment I've ever come across. I hate to think how long each took to make.
However, it's in their second life they've become more famous. They were the suits for the early Cyberman in Dr Who, worn by Bowie as a space suit in the 'Ashes to Ashes' video, Kate Bush in the video for 'The Dreaming' and made a brief camo in Alien.
For it's age it's amazing. Looks like a few repairs to the fabric, but otherwise she's beautiful. PVC still ver subtle and nylon strong.
- Tagged a size large, and like would fit me (6ft, 75kg)
- However, this is delicate - you should not plan to wear it.