In 1986 my husband Brian was a sales representative for a plastics company based in Vancouver, B.C. Brian is a pilot and used an aircraft to expedite his business calls. Many of his clients were located in remote areas, i.e., fish farm, logging camps, Silva culture companies, etc., the aircraft was a useful tool to keep in contact and offer“above the crowd service". Being a pilot necessitates a walk around and sometimes a crawl under, the aircraft to ensure that all is well
for the coming flight. Such activity tends to be hard on business attire, so a solution was sought in the form of a coverall or flight suit to keep Brian presentable when arriving at his destination.
Efforts made to locate a comfortable flight suit proved difficult as most offerings were in the form of military surplus which were tired, baggy and came with interesting odours.
The obvious solution was to design a practical garment that would fit the needs of private or corporate pilots, while avoiding the “Top Gun” military look that most non-military pilots shunned. Using my garment design skills, I managed to put together a smart, well- fitting Flightsuit using quality hard wearing twill fabric, featuring a number of useful pockets.
Problem solved… or so I thought. Brian advised me one evening as he had just returned from a coastal flight, that pilots were approaching him as he prepared his aircraft for flight. They wanted to know where he had purchased his flight suit. Upon revealing that his wife had made it, they requested that she make one for them also. The offer was complementary, but was politely turned down.
However during the flight, Brian had time to reflect on their requests and began to mull over the possibility of manufacturing flights suits as a business, was it possible that there was a demand?
A large North American helicopter company had heard of my design and inquired if we would be interested in manufacturing the same suit in NOMEX fire protective material for their pilots. It could, and was. The result was a 20 year relationship with the company pilots being the best salesmen available. As they landed at airports and worksites all over the country, other pilots would inquire as to the source of their smart, well made flight uniforms.
We test all of our prototypes on line pilots - our first test pilot was the late Mark Hanna ( The Old Flying Machine Co.), flying his MK 1X Spitfire. Mark was so impressed by our flightsuits, that he sent us an autographed photo with thanks. Flightline suits have been seen in movies, TV shows and advertisements.
Almost 30 years later, Flightline continues to supply many helicopter, fixed wing, medevac, corporate Government and private companies in North America, Europe and globally. Finally opening a branch office in Washington State, USA in 2003.
Another interesting diversion was the introduction of our Aviator Jacket line. This smart, professional looking jacket was a hit from the get go and has appeared in different company cockpits with their own logos attached. Several Aviation Colleges and Space Camps feature this jacket and the NASA logo is a prominent feature.
Although most of the work has been routine and mundane, there have been a few exceptions Tactical Gear Fire Resistant Suits were designed and manufactured for the Anti-Riot Olympic Police teams, EMS wear for first responders, Sponsorship of a solo round the world awareness raising voyage in a single engine aircraft, a cosmonaut seeking a sharp suit for his Soyuz Spacecraft Mission work, etc.
Finally, not to ignore the “wee folk” Flightline launched an aviation clothing line called J.A.G Junior Aviator Gear . This is to inspire our next generation of pilots…. Boys and Girls..... and give them the vision to fly. These are featured in some of the most progressive and visionary aviation museums in North America…… Pensacola Museum of Flight… home of the Blue Angels, The Museum of Flight in Seattle Washington, home of Boeing Aircraft Co., etc.
Flightline continues to support the Aviation Industry with NOMEX fire protective garments. Which, along with our Nomex touch-screen Flight Gloves, Flightsuits and Jackets are an essential for the Flying Tanker Fire Suppression crews.
Flightline’ story is still unfolding as the world of aviation continues to unfold… stay tuned!
- Marilyn Mellis
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Manufactures of Flightsuits & Aviation Wear Since 1986