It’s not unusual to see a leather A2 flight jacket at AirVenture, but when it comes to a unique A2, Tom Schad of Gainesville, Texas, may have the granddaddy of them all. Schad is the proud owner of a customized A2 that bears the signatures of some of the most famous names in aviation.
According to Schad, the A2 was a just plain A2 when he acquired it. He had aviation artist RT Foster adorn the back with a painting of a Mark 1 Challenger biplane that Schad built.
“Then one year I’m up here at Oshkosh and it’s cold and I’m wearing the jacket and I see Tex Hill doing Warbirds in review,” he said.
Hill, of course, was a fighter pilot and flying ace in World War II and Korea. During World War II he flew with the Flying Tigers and shot down 18 enemy aircraft. Hill is always a great draw at Oshkosh. That particular year he was selling books from a tent, Schad recalled.
“I already had the book, so I decided that I would have Tex sign the inside of the jacket,” he said. “Tex was the first signature, and from there is kind of grew.”
Today the jacket has more than 50 signatures, among them some 30 medal of honor winners, including six of the Doolittle Raiders.
“Some of the pilots whose names you’d recognize include Gayle Halvorsen, who was known as the Candy Bomber (for throwing chocolate bars out of airplanes during the Berlin