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Bomber Jacket Photos Celebrate Aviation History, American Art Form

A-2 “bomber jacket” that belonged to B-24 pilot Everett Graves. ©2015 John Slemp

A-2 “bomber jacket” that belonged to B-24 pilot Everett Graves. ©2015 John Slemp

Our friend and frequent collaborator — award-winning photographer John Slemp — scored two impressive PR hits this month when his work showcasing the weathered and decorated flight jackets of WWII pilots, was featured in two widely circulated publications, AOPA Pilot and ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) Bulletin: Best of Issue 2015. (Download or subscribe to ASMP here.)

“The nine-page mini-portfolio of images in AOPA’s November issue from my bomber jacket book project were created while documenting this most American art form,” John said. “While the jackets are beautiful, the stories of the men who wore them while flying the treacherous skies over WWII Europe are riveting, and at times, heartbreaking.”

Billy D. Welch flew P-47 and P-51 fighters in 1944 over the skies of Europe. ©2014 John Slemp

Billy Welch flew P-47 and P-51 fighters in 1944 over the skies of Europe. ©2014 John Slemp

Written by David Tulis, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Associate Editor/eMedia, the Pilot article – “Well Worn” – can be previewed here; subscriptions are available on iTunes.

“John Slemp’s stunning portfolio of World War II veterans and their weathered bomber jackets resonated with readers of AOPA Pilot magazine and our weekly ePilot newsletter, which reaches more than 300,000 digital viewers,” Tulis said. “It was a pleasure working with him to identify the most unique stories and photos the airmen told through their personal effects and their memories.”

A-2 Bomber Jacket that belonged to Frederick G. Smith, 100th Bomb Group, 351st Bomb Squadron.

A-2 Bomber Jacket that belonged to Frederick G. Smith, 100th Bomb Group, 351st Bomb Squadron.

Photographed on white backgrounds, the jacket images are combined with historic and contemporary photos, letters, and memorabilia. John has traveled across the country to photograph more than three dozen jackets at museums and private collections. He anticipates a Fall 2016 publication date.

An Atlanta-based photographer for over twenty years, John concentrates on the science, technology, history, and art of aviation. Learn more about the bomber jacket project and view his portfolio at Aerographs.

P-51 pilot Bob "Punchy" Powell.

P-51 pilot Bob “Punchy” Powell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photographs copyright John Slemp, 2014 and 2015. 

 

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