*This page will be updated with work in progress on the flight suit.
There are flight suits available on Ebay that are not very accurate. I suppose you could buy one and modify it, but then you may as well just start from scratch.
The fabric used in the series was from a company called Sommers in Clifton, New Jersey. “High Intensity Chromaflair Satinstretch” is a polyurethane-coated, polyester-backed fabric that has a smooth, satin-like surface. Unfortunately, that exact colour is no longer in stock and the minimum requirement is 240 yards. The material is very expensive due to cost of pigment. Over $40 per yard.
It only takes about four yards to make the jumpsuit, so I will be hunting around my local stores for something close enough.
I will post progress work on the flight suit here.
First attempt: (Failed)
To start, I found some faux canvas on an abandoned camping stretcher, a nylon strap with plastic buckle and a textured foam mat. Using cardboard to adjust for the right size, it is ready to trace onto the canvas.
My friend Darwin, has been so kind to me. He saw my pathetic attempt at making the wrist computer in the cuff, then built me an amazing replica on his CNC mill. The wrist computer is actually a talking watch called a Nixon Dork. The watch is about $800 new, but you can pick up used ones on ebay from time to time for a couple of hundred. I didn’t want to spend that sort of money on such a small detail, as right now I need it to build the Viper.
The three pictures below show in order: BSG original prop, my crappy attempt, Dar’s much more professional replica.
My anonymous benefactor has just made me feel like a kid again!! The genuine fabric for the Viper Pilot flight suit is amazing. Nothing like what I imagined. So glad I didn’t try to source a near enough alternative in Australia, just guessing from photos. Every photo I’ve seen of it looks different. He’s even gone to the trouble to trace out the entire pattern for me. Totally blown away by such kindness.
I have a family member who is a seasoned seamstress and she has agreed to work with me on this. I will be spending some time sitting with her to familiarise her with the screen-used suit and all of it’s attributes.
EDIT: Due to many factors that affect a person’s life, I ended up finding a tailor close by, who has worked in costuming in a number of big budget, mainstream movies and TV series. He agreed to take on the challenge. (Believe me it’s not an easy suit to build). I have indeed, been blessed!
The samples sent to me by my benefactor were super handy. The guy at the fabric store actually worked on the costumes for the sci-fi series, “Farscape”, so he knew what he was on about and was very helpful. The local materials he found as an alternative differ in texture, but that can’t be helped as the original is so unique and discontinued years ago. The colour properties are also different, but unless compared side by side, not many would notice. The camera tends to exaggerate that difference, but to the eye it is close. I also bought piping cotton and the foam to stitch into the back scales.
7 October 2018
Making the neck seal.
This evening I had a bit of daylight left, so I went back into the shed and made a neck seal for the flight suit. I just beat it over the jaws of an open vice then finished it off with a planishing hammer around the outside of my post anvil. I cut and filed a hinge in the aluminium and pinned and peened it. Later a padded lining gets attached to the inside of it.
18 October 2018
Second test fit on the flight suit. Once the adjustments are made, we start cutting the real material.
Tonight’s fitting was a wake up call for me and I’m embarrassed. Initially, my measurements were taken and the first cloth suit was made. I had a fitting and found I had put on weight and it was tight. So, the tailor made another one and added 2 cm in each side to give me some room. Tonight I fitted up and it was again too tight, showing I have put on MORE weight. OUCH. This can’t go on.
Now he has to add MORE size to the suit and we will try again.
In the meantime, my diet has got to change and I have to find some sort of aerobic activity that chews the calories without buggering my knees and ankles any more than they already are.
Two problems… I hate diets and I have little time for extra exercise. Something’s gotta give.
7 November 2018
Today I received the Nike Flightposite shoes from Steepstore in Sydney. I picked them up for $120 AU, with free postage, so I am pretty happy. Steepstore was very responsive and patient with my questions via private message on Facebook. Once I pulled the trigger, they were here within a couple of days.
Later this evening I installed two earth magnets into the neck seal. I cut some foam to be covered later in silver fabric.
I’ve been slowly buying in or making all the little things that make a difference and add to the authenticity and theme of the Colonial Viper Pilot. Lots of the paper props are available on the Replica Prop Forum. Just google Battlestar Galactica paper props or use the RPF search function on their website and you should get lots of options and links.
1 July 2019
25 November 2019
Visits with my tailor have been few and far between, but at last we have started putting the flight suit together! He’s the expert in fabrics, sewing etc etc, I am the gruntwork and consultant. While I was cutting, gluing and covering the back scales, he started on zips and pockets. Trying very hard to be screen accurate, but there are so many versions of the suit from the hero suit, to what you see on a lot of the background pilots, fan-made work, etc etc. Some suits varied from season to season too, by the looks of it. We have drained the internet of all reference material, discerning what is genuine and what is not.
18 December 2109
Slowly, slowly wins the race. Getting my tailor’s busy life to fit mine is a real challenge! He’s been brilliant and very patient with me.
Finally started sewing the thing together on Monday night. It’s exciting to see it build up in layers. I’m a bro who doesn’t sew, but it was amazing to see just how difficult and skilled it is. Still, even with no sewing experience, I am very much needed as a consultant to position the pieces and make decisions on the fly. That’s why none of it can be done without me there.
Backscale armour on.
My legendary boss was also kind enough to use his new laser etching machine to do a little experiment on one of my old clean-skin camping knives. I have some ideas to make an original Baz Viper pilot combat knife. They don’t wear one in the show, but the way I see it, if you were to enter atmosphere and survive a crash landing, a pilot might want to have some sort of combat/survival knife. I’ve drawn up a few drafts, but I’ll show everyone when it’s done.
Crappy knife etch test.
24 February 2020
I’ve had a couple more flight suit sessions with my tailor, he doing the skilled sewing machine stuff and I doing the grunt work, cutting and gluing stuff for him to sew on. The right leg thigh pocket was a bit of a mongrel. We had four attempts at it to get it right. Finally, that one is out of the way.
The last bits of padded and covered plates are glued up and top-stitched onto the back. The photo looks skewiff because I’ve just draped it over my shoulders and am holding the sides in with my elbows. Trust me, it’s symmetrical and the right size.
We also made a good start on the flak vest. The neoprene plates have been backed and stiffened, then covered with pigskin suede. This is what was used in the show.
12 March 2020
Making good progress tonight on the flight suit flak vest. Some piping to stitch around the outside, then a shitload of weathering on the pigskin suede. We also got the flight checklist pocket started.
Below are some reference pictures from the series, plus some fan-built costumes. I do not own the rights to any of these pictures they are all gleaned from internet image searches.
Some info about the belt pouches:
(Thanks to DN.) The pouches were not Bianchi. They were a custom line created by an outside vendor for MD Charlton in Canada. The show then had theirs heavily modified from what could be found in the store catalog. You can see in the two greyish-looking images above, some of the unmodified pouches. The real pouches almost all had snap closures, the show converted to Velcro. The show used only the glove pouch from the front of the handcuff case above, as a pair of pouches that were usually on the back of the belt.
Unfortunately you’re not going to find an off the shelf match currently in stores. MD Charlton itself doesn’t even carry the original, unmodified pouches anymore.
Flight suit details
Below I will try to compile information I have harvested from all over the internet, fans, official sites and any other source available to me to make it comprehensive.
ID# B080502The silver cuff material is also made by Sommers and is also high intensity Chroma Satin Stretch in soft silver/green
ID# D060803The back scales material is also from Sommers and is called, “Asteroid”. The colour is called Marcasite.
Shoe information thanks to an insider #1
There were 3 or 4 different shoes used. The main shoe was from Payless and was a knock off of the Nike Air Max model that was available at the time. It was first learned they were from Payless from the costume designer of the mini-series. She revealed this to a member of Dewback Wing, where the majority of the BSG costume research was being done back then. Confirmation came shortly after when pictures were sent of the shoes to a law enforcement shoe identification website and it came back with a 100% match.
Many BSG costumers have bought the Nike Flightposite shoes because they came in a colour that matched the green/gold of the flight-suits exactly.
Shoe information thanks to Geoff at Midwick Armory
The original Hero shoe was the Cross Trekker Zip-Hi, a Payless knock-off of the Nike Future Flight. It was long gone from stores by the time people figured out what it was, and there’s no secondary market outside of production used shoes because it’s from Payless… The Nike Future Flights (2003 version) however, still pop up on e.bay from time to time.
They also used the Nike Chosen (2002 version) for background pilot shoes – They aren’t as fancy, but have a similar overall look, and are more readily available. By the end of the show, they were using a wide variety of similarly styled shoes to fill their needs, but those are the two most commonly used by costumers.
Another shoe, Nike Flightposite, was actually manufactured using the same colour fabric as the suits (all the other shoes were painted) so a lot of people use it (though they’ve gotten a bit expensive as of late) – they have a different look than the shoes from the show, but are still futuristic looking, and since they match the fabric exactly, they blend in nicely.
On sizing, the future flights run small, the chosen’s are true to size.