You wouldn’t think flying in a vintage World War II era T-6 Trainer would evoke thoughts or memories of rugged outdoor footwear. And, I have to admit the thought didn’t immediately cross my mind. But, somewhere over Mesa, Arizona, that’s exactly what happened.
I recently found myself working in the back seat of a T-6 Trainer, flying at a comfortable cruising altitude of 3,000 feet and moving along at a steady 150 MPH. While capturing some beautiful HD footage of vintage aircraft in formation the thought occurred to me, I was wearing a pair of boots that could have easily been found in that same plane 70 years ago.
The North American T-6 Texan was a single-engine trainer aircraft used to train pilots in the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, and the Royal Air Force, among others. The plane was first flown in 1935 and was in full-blown production by the late 1930’s.
The popular warbird aircraft is the subject of a project I am producing called WarBikes. The only “outdoorsy” thing about the series is the fact that we are shooting out-of-doors. Not the typical sports afield type story most boot guys would associate with the Chippewa brand.
Nevertheless, the classic engineer boot would have been found on land surveyors, ship builders, and no doubt engineers connected with everything from public works projects to aircraft manufacturing – thus the name.
What’s not surprising is the fact that a product designed with practical utility in the late 1930’s would find a home in fashion today. Such is the case with the engineer boot. The stovepipe tops and the adjustable leather straps across the ankle and top of the shaft allow for the perfect fit.
Ironically, the Chippewa Shoe Company of Chippewa, Wisconsin, originally produced the boot. Although their address has changed the boot hasn’t.
What more can you say about a tough good looking pair of boots suitable for everything from riding motorcycles to flying planes?