Why performance pilot shirts will become the new standard

This Performance pilot shirts review will explain why performance pilot shirts will become the new industry standard for pilot uniforms.

The Good

  • Easy to clean and quick to iron
  • Not having your shirt crease up throughout the day
  • Fabric Elasticity makes it comfy to wear
  • Lasts longer than conventional shirts
  • Maintains bright whiteness and less see through

The Bad

  • More expensive to purchase initially
  • Less common to find in retail or uniform stores
  • Must check shirt material for flammability concerns
  • Some people may have material allergies

I’ve spent a lot of time in the cockpit around the outback of Australia and around the world in some pretty hot, muggy conditions with fairly average (and sometimes non existent environmental control systems), and I’ve worn my fair of lets be honest, downright crappy uniforms and shirts. Whilst I am not the most experienced pilot out there, I know enough to sort the wheat from the chaff. I wrote an article on here about some of the best Custom Pilot Shirts, which did feature Airman Pilot Shirts and explain why I liked them.

Performance R series pilot shirts from Airman Pilot Shirts require less maintenance, last longer and are more cost effective. Land a 20% discount with the discount code PROTIPS20

Airman Performance Pilot shirts

Why performance pilot shirts are the smartest choice for busy professional pilots

Performance pilot shirts utilise a range of cutting-edge, high-tech fabrics to increase practicality, improve aesthetics and increase the useful life of a garment. Where cotton-based fabrics have traditionally been seen to be optimal for shirtmaking, recent technological advances have allowed for shirts that have a the positive characteristics of high quality cotton, without any of the drawbacks (such as the tendency to crease easily, or fade in sunlight). This is reflected in some of the major shirt brands in the world using range of more modern materials in their garments (check out Hawes and Curtis’ new range)

So lets explore why performance pilot shirts will become the new standard in uniform for pilots.

Benefits of Performance pilot shirts

  • Wasting Less time at the ironing board
  • Not having your shirt crease up throughout the day
  • Fabric Elasticity
  • Length of Service life
  • Bright whiteness
  • Less see through

Wasting less time at the ironing board:

Though many aviators will claim that they only shop 100% cotton, when it comes down to rushing out of the door for the 5th day in a row, they will always go for the shirt that doesn’t need to be ironed. 

Indeed, when all ironing-related activities are added up, pilots spend up to four hours per month at the ironing board. With most pilots having a variety of commitments outside of a busy flying schedule ranging from hobbies, running side businesses or raising a family, these hours can have a big impact on happiness and productivity. 

For those pilots who relate to these issues, it can be worth investing in a shirt that can give you those hours back. Nevertheless, these shirts are still quite new to market and are not so easy to find. One option is the R Series, developed by Airman, which can be a game changer, allowing pilots the comfort of cotton, without the ironing. 

iron performance pilot shirt
Ironing shirts is often required on quick turn arounds or when dry cleaning services are not available

Not having your shirt crease up throughout the day:

After a significant amount of time struggling away at an ironing board, pilots can be pleased to know that as they leave their house or hotel, their shirt looks impeccable. However, by the time they step out of the car, the cracks are already starting to appear. 

Low grade or traditional materials tend to crease up as the individual moves around the flight deck, removes the shirt for rest or comes into contact with various surfaces like car or aircraft seats. Those that carry shoulder bags encounter more crease related issues. This results in a pilot shirt that can be heavily creased by the end of the day, giving these unfortunate individuals a somewhat unkempt look.

Performance pilot shirts remove this concern due to being almost impervious to creases, no matter how long and tiresome the day becomes. This leaves aviators looking as professional when they leave the aircraft as when they stepped on board.

Fabric Elasticity:

The use of more advanced textiles permits manufacturers to build more stretch into their materials. Although often thought otherwise, adding stretch is not done so that the wearer can go around looking like a pumped up body builder (although this affect can certainly be achieved). Instead, the main function of this feature is to allow those that don’t have a body that exactly fits the cut of the pilot shirt to get a better fit. For instance, if a pilot were to have a larger upper body, this would be accommodated by the stretch, allowing them to maintain a modern fit around the waist. This could not be achieved with non-stretch fabrics, as the individual would likely just have to go a size up. 

On top of this, fabrics with greater flexibility allow for pilots to feel more comfortable and less constrained as they reach around the flight deck, allowing a more comfortable day out. 

Of course, these features don’t remove the need for pilots to choose the right fit. It is imperative to go with a pilot shirt brand that gives aviators a choice of sizes and fits.  

Length of Service Life:

Thanks to the use of more advanced, modern materials, performance pilot shirts can be relied upon to last longer than shirts made from cheap or more traditional fabrics. They are also more resistant to spills, often allowing pilots to wipe away or easily wash out stray dinner stains. Additionally, the not having to iron also extends the life of a garment. Hot irons fray and weaken fabric over time, so not having to iron pilot shirts greatly extends their usable life. 

Bright Whiteness:

The use of some cheaper or more traditional materials unfortunately can cause pilot shirts to fade, leading to garments having that yellow or grey tint that many pilots will be used to. This just leads to the need to buy shirts more often. Advanced performance textiles are often a more brilliant white, and have less of a tendency to discolour, allowing your shirts to look sharper for longer.

Less See-Through:

The use of technical fabrics also can permit shirts to be less transparent than conventional or cheaper materials. This has the benefit of hiding any skin shades that might show through, or undergarments if pilots choose to wear them.

how to become a pilot
A Clean, crisp white shirt is a hallmark of any professional pilot uniform

Drawbacks of performance pilot shirts?

In the past, pilots have been wary of non-cotton materials as they have become synonymous with those cheap, nasty shirts that they have been given by airlines or found in most pilot stores.

However, as reflected in the business shirt world, when used correctly, non-cotton fabrics don’t have to come with drawbacks such as lack of comfort or feeling cheap and nasty. In fact, when high quality non-natural blends are used, a far better shirt overall can be achieved. Indeed, some of these shirts have all of the benefits of a traditional cotton shirts, with none of the drawbacks. 

The bottom line on performance pilot shirts:

Although it might take a while to catch on, performance pilot shirts are certainly the future within commercial aviation and beyond. The shirts require less maintenance, last longer and are more cost effective in the long run. 

For those looking to take a performance pilot shirt for a test drive, check out the R series from Airman Pilot Shirts. Fortunately, these shirts are currently subject to an introductory 20% discount with the discount code PROTIPS20. What’s more, US pilots can now get US priced shipping rates and also return directly to a US location, making them a great option overall.

Performance R series pilot shirts from Airman Pilot Shirts require less maintenance, last longer and are more cost effective. Land a 20% discount with the discount code PROTIPS20

If you are still chasing a decent pilot shirt but on a tighter budget or looking for a custom shirt, check out the following articles;

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ken johnson


Ken is a passionate aviator, a professional pilot and flight instructor. He has over 17 years of flight experience across hundreds of aircraft ranging from recreational, aerobatic, historic, commercial and military aircraft, training hundreds of students along the way. Find out more.

Ken has 124 posts and counting. See all posts by Ken

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