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Pilot’s Boots

  • Andy Edgell
  • Interview by: Ewan Burnett


We had standard-issue boots, flying boots.

And it probably didn't make any sense at all,

but apparently, folklore,

apparently someone once ejected from a Harrier

and the laces from their boots were cut off

because their feet were dragged up the inside

of the cockpit as they ejected and their laces were cut.

And so the story goes that meant that there was gonna be

a redesign of the boot, specifically for Harrier pilots,

because if they're in enemy territory and they ejected

and they haven't got any laces in their boots,

then that's not gonna go very well.

You're not gonna run very fast away from the enemy, are you?

The Harrier pilots had special flaps

that you sort of wove into your laces,

and then you had a leather flap that goes over the laces.

Everyone could tell when there was a Harrier pilot

in the bar, 'cause you'd look down

and they'd have their stupid flaps on.

And that was another thing, you know.

You'd walk into a bar, and before you'd even ordered a drink

people had up their mind about what you were like.

They didn't like you, "Oh, he's arrogant,"

just 'cause I've got some leather going over my laces.

But again, you play up to it.

Yes, yes, check my boots out.

Yours look a little bit strange,

guess you didn't work hard enough in flying training.

(laughing) And you'd earned that.

And it's good, it's just good

classic friendly banter, isn't it?

That's the story behind the flaps.

And I tell you what, when I left the Harrier force

when it disbanded in 2010,

and I went out to America, you get issued different boots.

But when I left the Harrier force and I no longer

wore my black Royal Air Force flying boots,

I kept the flaps, and I've got a box in storage

with my flaps that I will never do anything with.

But I'm not throwing these away,

I worked bloody hard for these flaps

(laughing) and I'm keeping them.

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