Sadly, I recently ran across the story of Mel’s passing and I thought that I would share the story of my B-3 Bomber jacket that I have worn with pride for over 30 years. My story begins at Sommerset County Airport where I met and go to know Mel (or Mr. Schott as I knew him). I was an aspiring young aviator spending as much time at the airport as possible.
In the fall of 1989, I left for college at the University of North Dakota to pursue my dreams of an aviation career. Before I left, Mel invited me to tour the Schott plant. Being in love with aviation, I of course coveted a leather jacket. After touring the plant, I especially liked the B-3, however as a college aviation student it was well beyond my means. Shortly after I arrived at college, I received a box with a brand-new B-3 jacket (without any note inside). I could only have assumed that Mel had sent it to me. I wore my B-3 jacket through five long North Dakota winters. It saw me though all of my training and my initial job as a flight instructor.
I left North Dakota for my first airline job in Dallas. I also left my B-3 with my new Father-in-law because the winter in Dallas is like summer in ND. My B-3 stayed in ND for almost 20 years. I would wear it every winter that I returned to ND. It saw me though two more advanced degrees at UND and to a job at the major airlines. The jacket also survived two floods in Grand Forks.
I now hold a doctorate degree and am the Chief Pilot for the B737 for a major US airlne. This year sadly my father-in-law passed away and among the things that I took back to my home in Colorado was my beloved B-3 jacket. The jacket is worn and the cuffs have no more sheepskin left. I have resewn the zipper, pockets, and various straps. When my own son retuned for Christmas he laid claim to my B-3 with the intention of taking it back to college himself. Perhaps it will survive another 30 years with him. I told him that he had to replace my B-3 with another, however I think that I will be waiting a long time for it. Thanks, so much to Mel and Schott for this wonderful jacket. It has brought me so much warmth and happiness. Former classmates I run into sometimes even ask about the jacket! It was perhaps a small gesture from Mel to a young aviator, but it has meant so much to me over the years.