Quality embroidered apparel by pilots, for pilots
Wings4Aviators is a partnership between RF-4 pilot Chuck Miller, Captain USMC retired, and Russ Gnant, a private pilot and entrepreneur. The company specializes in custom-embroidering military aviation insignia on premier men's and women's sportswear.
“When I finally got rid of my old wings shirt, I wanted another one—but with better-quality embroidery,” says Miller. “And I thought there were a lot of ex-pilots like me who are proud of their military carrers, call signs, their squadrons and where they got trained.
“That's when I got the idea: Instead of buying a $400 flight jacket, why not be able to put military wings and your call sign on a shirt or light jacket?” Miller recalls. “When I mentioned the idea to Russ Gnant, Wings4Aviators was born.”
Gearing up for custom embroidery
"We tried finding local vendors that could meet our demand for high quality and quick turn production on one or two shirt orders," Gnant recalls. “but we couldn't find a vendor we were comfortable with."
“Chuck and I knew what we wanted,” Gnant explains, “so we bought our own embroidery equipment.
“Developing the embroidered wing designs was an iterative process,” says Gnant. “We wanted something that would capture the intricate detail of military pilot wings. That led us to experiment with depth and layering of the stitches and multiple colors, including a metallic thread we use for accents.”
The secret is in the details
“The metallic thread is subtle,” says Miller. “Actual pilot's wings of gold get burnished over time, but if you're standing in formation and turn and move, you'll catch a glint of the gold. We've tried to recreate that effect with our embroidery. If you're wearing one of our wings shirts in the sunshine, you'll see a glint of that metallic thread.”
‘How did you do that?’
“When we started showing our wings embroidery to people, they would touch the embroidered wings and say, 'Wow! How did you do that?'” says Miller. “That was worth every one of those 10,000 stitches.”
"Instead of buying a $400 flight jacket to get authentic looking wings, why not put military wings and your call sign on a shirt or light jacket?"
—Chuck Miller, Captain USMC retired