In May 1961, just weeks after Al Shepard became the first American in space, the new, young President JFK, stood before congress and challenged the US " to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." This would set in place an unprecedented project, the scale of which has not been repeated, involving a huge workforce and billions of dollars. Whilst NASA at the time knew it was technically possible, there was a world of testing needing to be done between the then nascent Mercury flights, and what would culminate in July 1969 with Apollo 11. The Gemini program would serve as testbed for techniques required for the later missions, including docking, space walks, time in space etc.
This jacket is an extremely rare part of that project. This belonged (I believe) to a pilot from HS-5, a specially trained helicopter crew who would be responsible for collection and recovery of both astronauts and the re-entry capsule. From what I understand, whilst this crew would have recovered both Gemini 2 (unmanned) and Gemini 5, the patches date from Gemini 5 in August 1965. The jacket itself is a Ralph Edwards contract from 1962, a rare B series (MIL-J-7823B) variation that were only produced between 1961-63.
Needless to say, items that are connected to the early space program are unbelievably rare, much sought after, and very infrequently available for sale. The patches on this alone are valuable, so to have two on a jacket, and in such amazing condition is a rare find indeed. This is a fleeting chance to own a small piece of mankind's greatest achievement.
This jacket is in amazing condition. The mouton fur collar is thick and very pliable, the cuffs and waistband are perfect and leather very soft & supple. Everything is original and the leather has never been fed.
There are a couple of knicks in the leather on the elbows, and there looks like a faint smearing of grey paint across the back right shoulder (in navy grey!). It looks like the owner had scratched JG (Junior Grade) from his rank, I would assume once he was promoted.
- Tagged size 40
- Fits like a modern med/lrg
- Pit to pit 22" (expands slightly across the back)
- Shoulder to shoulder 18"
- Shoulder to cuff 23"
- Collar to hem 25"