Photo gallery: Qantas pilot uniforms through the years

By David Flynn, April 16 2015
Photo gallery: Qantas pilot uniforms through the years

Qantas pilots are set to gain an all-new uniform crafted by acclaimed designer Martin Grant – but how has the look evolved over the Red Roo's decades of flying?

Here's a look at the History of the Qantas pilot uniform.

In the 1930s aircraft cockpits were enclosed so pilots no longer needed to wear the heavy overalls, helmets and goggles...

... which meant they could happily trade up to this dapper outfit.

From 1935 Qantas pilots wore a khaki military-style tunic for the launch of the airline's first international services between Brisbane and Singapore.

In 1938 many airlines – Qantas among them – operated flying boats where flight crews had to know as much about tides and currents as they did about airmanship, resulting in a uniform with some nautical influences, vestiges of which remain today.

The way it was: Sydney to Singapore in 4 days by Qantas flying boat

During the Second World War, Qantas flight crew reverted to military style khaki uniforms.

The crews who flew the Catalina flying boats on the Double Sunrise service between Perth and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) were over enemy patrolled territory for much of the journey and it was thought that military uniforms would better protect crew if captured. 

The 1950s saw the beginning of the modern aircraft pilot's uniform, which combined the calling's nautical and military heritage.

This continued through to the 1960s...

... until the fabulous '70s when dark navy gave way to mid-blue, reflecting an overall trend towards brighter colours. 

That extended to the groovy cabin crew threads.

That said, Qantas crew donned the 1970s garb during last year's delivery flight of the 'RetroRoo' Boeing 737, and you'd have to admit that they still look fantastic Qantastic.

In 1993 Qantas turned to Australian label George Gross and Harry Who to create pilot uniforms featuring a navy jacket and trousers, and ten years later Aussie designer Peter Morrissey refreshed the look to feature a single breasted black jacket and trousers.

That's still what some 2,500 Qantas pilots wear today – and we reckon no-one would care to dress in the same outfit day in and day out for 12 years!

What will Martin Grant come up with as the new look for Qantas pilots in 2016? Stay tuned...

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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