‘Miss America’ P-51 Air Racing Team, hand-painted limited-edition A-2 flight jacketThe ‘Miss America’ P-51 Mustang is the iconic Unlimited Class air racer and a perennial crowd favorite at the Reno air races. Having participated and often won at the legendary National Championship Air Races since 1966, in 1996 noted aviation artist, Ron Kaplan, was commissioned to design and hand-paint a limited edition of just 30 leather flight jackets in tribute to the aircraft’s 30-year Reno history. When the team saw Kaplan’s prototype “artist’s proof” jacket, his striking design was quickly adapted as the team logo. It has since been utilized on everything from polo shirts to the back doors of the team transporter (owner and pilot Brent Hisey proudly owns the original prototype jacket, incidentally). However, the most unique medium remains the venerable goatskin Willis & Geiger A-2 flight jackets that Kaplan selected for his individually hand-painted creations.This is #11/30 from the edition, one that Kaplan completed in 1998 for team promotional purposes but in all other respects is brand new. The label states it is a men’s size 40 but note that, as W&G A-2’s were authentically created to original WWII government specs, it fits a men’s size 38. It is meticulously hand-painted in acrylics (no airbrushing!) and guaranteed not to flake or peel.To commission Kaplan to paint a jacket like this today would require a minimum investment of $3,000 and up to a two-year wait. Additionally, Willis & Geiger, manufacturer of US Government-issue flight jackets for over 60 years, has since ceased to exist. Thus this piece represents a great opportunity for an aviation fan to own a rare piece of air racing history and original (and quite wearable) Kaplan artwork.
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