It all began back in 1993 when David Farnsworth's own collection of WW2 RAF flight gear 'got out of hand'. After a brief spell of selling spare items to other dealers we decided we could do it ourselves.
Initially a basic 'list' was created using an old manual typewriter. This was then sent out to potential customers who had answered a 'sales' advert in the classified section of 'Flypast' magazine. The response to that first advert was overwhelming and further lists were produced, each becoming steadily longer and thicker. Examples of these early lists have some very appealing prices with 1941 pattern Mae Wests at £45 and B-types for £75 or so. Both would have made excellent investments!
After about a year we invested in a word processor for a clearer typeface and later still progressed to producing A5 catalogues with hundreds of items complete with a colour photo section at the centre.
In 2007 we decided the business should become web based and finally ceased production of the catalogue with edition number 48 the following year. Since then we have made minor cosmetic changes to the website but have now totally redesigned the layout to make it more appealing to look at and easier to use. It is now possible to have up to 30 high resolution photographs of each item. These can be enlarged and viewed in 'full screen' on your PC, Mac or mobile device, enabling you to see everything in clear detail.
What we do....
We love flying gear and specialise in WW2 Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces kit as well as supplying items from the Royal Flying Corps, Luftwaffe and other Air Forces, from WW1 right up to the present day. Typical stock includes flying helmets, goggles, oxygen masks, boots, flying jackets, flying suits, uniforms, insignia and other aviator clothing. We also stock parachutes, escape and evasion equipment, survival kit and aviation related documents and paperwork ranging from Pilot's Notes to flying log books. In short, if you are looking for anything aviation related you are in the right place.
From the outset we have strived to supply detailed, accurate written descriptions of each item backed up with high quality photographs. We want you to know exactly what to expect should you decide to purchase from us. 28 years on our priority remains to provide interesting kit and outstanding customer service. All stock is of course original and authentic to the period stated and carries a money back guarantee.
The Historic Flying Clothing Company also supplies props and technical advice for film, television and theatre productions. Some of the projects we have been involved with are listed below :
Allied, (2016). Director - Robert Zemeckis. Starring Brad Pitt & Marion Cotillard. Nominated for an Academy Award for Costume Design. Much of Brad Pitt's clothing was supplied by us.
Allies, (2014). Director - Dominic Burns. Starring Julian Ovendon, Chris Reilly, Matt Willis, Edmund Kingsley, Leon Vickers. The director was born in Derbyshire and film locations close to our HQ were used.
Adrift - 47 days With Sharks. (2012). True WW2 USAAF survival film.
Alien : Covenant, (2017). Director - Ridley Scott
Secret Agent Selection, WW2. (2017). Produced by Wall To Wall Media for BBC2.
Pan, (2015). Director - Joe Wright.
Guy Martin, The Last Flight Of The Vulcan Bomber, (2015). Produced by North One TV for Channel 4.
Goodnight Sweetheart starring Nicholas Lyndhurst. Alomo Productions for the BBC.
Much Ado About Nothing Theatre Production, The Old Vic, London, (2013) starring James Earl Jones & Vanessa Redgrave.
Television Advert, (2018). Director - Ridley Scott
1917, (2019). Director Sam Mendes
We have also supplied items for the collections of many well know musuems including :
RAF Museum Hendon, London
The Australian National War Memorial
B-17 Musuem, Switzerland
Bentley Priory Museum, Stanmore, Nr. London
Musee de L'Armee, Paris, France
Polish History Museum / Muzeum Historii Polski, Warsaw, Poland
Madame Taussauds (Merlin Studios)
AVRO Heritage Museum, Woodford
The first sales lists
This is how it started. The first few sales lists that turned a hobby into a business. Initially billed as 'Flying Clothing Collector', later 'Flying Clothing Specialist' before becoming 'The Historic Flying Clothing Company'. Click on the photos to enlarge and read...
We produced about 50 editions of these in total, most of which had a 4 page colour photo centre section. In the end they were so thick that we struggled to staple them and fit them into standard C5 envelopes. About 4 were sent out each year. Click on the photos to enlarge and read...
The first sales lists
The photo pages