I’ve been in my share of aviation bars through the years from the Pancho Barnes room frequented by seasoned test pilots to the ones hosting pilots working toward their first set of wings. I’ve seen some interesting things. Photographed a good number of items, too. Some are typical things people might find in any bar, others are distinctly unique to those who enjoy the flying profession. Of course, because of the nature of aviation types versus the delicate nature of those who might be viewing this blog, I had to pick and chose photos.
Bits and pieces of aircraft give the right flavor and for an Air Force bar are pretty much essential. This can be a wing, prop, vertical stabilizer, an ejection seat (yes, I’ve seen one), a piece from a totaled aircraft (however it got that way), or perhaps landing gear.
Other basics usually include a bell found in most bars. Necessary in case someone commits a faux pas and is buying the bar a round. Also a variety of wood bar surfaces can be found from a full-fledged bar, to a wood surface where nicknames are carved and the tops scorched, to a bar table top similar to this table covered in resin, or a simple oak whiskey barrel for the smaller more private setting.
Now every bar needs a little action, so a Crud table is mandatory. The rules and variations for Crud will be discussed at another time (and at some places said game has been curtailed to reduce injuries (really?)). For more atmosphere, throw in some stain glass, a popcorn machine, a dart board, and hang a few decorations.
One thing I haven’t mentioned, which is quite common, is the beer mug (filled with beer, of course). Below are two typical mugs and a standard squadron mug rack. Some places have a little more creative display using things at hand…baseball bats, practice weapon, fire axe, electronics rack, handcuffs….
A pilot needs something appropriate to wear, in particular if they are military. For a civilian pilot, almost anything goes (shoes and shirt usually required, unless in some exotic location and then you are a lucky pilot indeed). For military pilots, the appropriate attire is a flight suit, but once in a while formal attire is necessary. A savvy pilot can make a few adjustments of uniform to fit both ceremony and later bar visit. Simply remove the sleeves of mess dress shirt, keep the cuffs and attach them to new sleeves from material of your choice. This is easily hidden beneath your mess dress jacket.
And every party or visit to a bar is more fun with friends, family, or fellow pilots. So invite your buds and head to the bar. Below is a photo of a famous local watering hole for test pilots back in the seventies and eighties. The Pancho Barnes room at the Edwards Air Force Base Officer Club (name and layout since changed). Take a close look at some of the things in the background.
Over time as people find this blog post, I hope that to add items they have photographed (with photo credit) in aviation bars. All I ask is to keep it “clean.” Comment or contact me, and I’ll add your photos or you can send me a link to photos and I’ll be glad to add that. Thanks for stopping by. Remember 8 hours from throttle to bottle!
Fun trip down memory lane. Back to a time when I was less civilized.
Thanks for stopping by Rob. I think pilots become more discerning (not necessarily less civilized) with age. Lol. By the way, I plan to take a longer look at your site. I love history and am glad to see authors including more of it in fiction.
I agree with that, although at a cookout yesterday I told a joke that was probably could have used some discernment. One day I will tell it publically.
Thanks for the encouragement about the blog. You are welcome anytime, please make yourself at home.
If the pilot wants something really custom or wants a one stop shop solution for a mess dress party shirt, they can get it all online at http://www.thepartyshirtstore.com.
Brain- I’ve had a good number of people come through searching for party shirts. Since your company has a pilot co-founder and might be of assistance to my viewers, I’ll be glad to post your url. Thanks for stopping by and good luck providing to the party shirt crowd.
Thanks so much. We look forward to helping your readers!
Love it – Pancho would be proud. Now, is that rack at Laughlin really holding mugs AND providing the network patch panel? Non-military might start wondering about all the handcuffs.
Actually, Bill, I was wondering about all the handcuffs. Thanks for stopping by.