About this project

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency contracted B.R. Howard to conserve and provide a mount for their MC-4 flight suit. It was designed to provide protection for pilots of the U2 spy plane at very high altitudes and made of several layers of various weights sage green nylon cloth. The capstans (nylon sleeve covered pressure hoses) for an internal bladder system were held in place by rows of interdigitating nylon straps running from the outside of the ankle up the leg and torso and down each arm with a linking hose between the back shoulder blades. Lacing was used to customize a snug fit.

 
 
 
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What we did

The flight was transported back to our lab were it was vacuumed using a variable speed vacuum with HEPA filter. The lacing on the inner legs was untied and removed from the flight suit.  It was restrung starting at the top and bottom of the leg using as close to the configuration exhibited elsewhere on the suit as possible. The lacing was manipulated to aid the suit in conforming to the internal mannequin’s shape without overly stressing fabric of the suit.

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The corrosion was mechanically reduced and stabilized on the metal connectors on the suit and flight helmet. An articulating, free standing mount was created using a heavily modified manufactured mannequin using Ethafoam, polyester batting and cotton Stockinette. The stiffness and crumpled form of the internal bladders of the suit made a smooth exterior impossible. Additional heel supports were made for the right leg due to the heaviness of the flight suit with helmet. The treatment was documented before and after with photography and reports in accordance with AIC Guidelines and returned to the client for display