You probably know and have seen the old SAAF pilot boot, this boot served well in its time (and its still available from us) but it has zero padding, and feels just like the old SADF combat boot, – in fact its precisely that, without a heel!

Well now we have a boot for you that is much improved over the old design, retaining the resiliency, and reliablilty – but adding comfort, cushioning and a wicking action to keep your feet cool and dry in any weather.

This new boot was designed on the Armscor specifications, and is a proudly South African product.

Why Fly With A Pilot Boot?

As with most aviation wear, safety is the main CORE factor in design, and the  Airwear Fly Boot is no different,

The main threat to a pilots feet are heat transference from a fire behind the firewall – in the engine area, the pedals controlling the rudder can get superheated rapidly in the case of a malfunction or fire… and this heat being directly transferred to the pilots foot has dire consequences…

Ethyl Vinyl Acetate or EVA /Polyeurythane blends are the most common sole in sneakers and they get soft at 42° celsius and melt at 71° – remember this material used in soles of most expensive running shoes – is the same material used as slops/flipflops – not the best choice for heat resistance.

The Flyboot is made with a single density Polyeurythane sole, with a melt temperature of 110° – yet its thickness and design gives it strong form holding capabilities and slow heat conduction…

much longer than EVA – ie it will not melt into your foot anytime soon…It will also not ignite easily and produce nasty a chemical fire with noxious fumes…(which would overcome most people before actual burning occurs)

In addition the flyboot has 1.8 to 2mm thick bison leather as its upper further preventing heat

Some pilots fly in their running shoes or tekkies(Sneakers)and this is a huge threat to your safety…

Why You Should Avoid Flying With Sneakers, Tekkies or Running Shoes…

Running Shoes/ Sneakers Materials : The Threat Of Melting Into Your Skin

Running Shoe Uppers: the purpose of the upper is to hold the foot in place, protects the foot from rocks and dirt, has synthetic leather for durability, mesh for breathability and reflective material for safety.

Running shoe soles:
Turns out, most soles have traditionally been packed with a type of foam called ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), which is what makes your shoes feel cushy.
The common name for it is : expanded rubber or foam rubber.

Running shoes are great for jogging or ordinary day to day wear  (I have a favourite pair of durable salomans), they’re just not designed for aviation!

“Running Shoes or Trainers are great for everyday wear or running they’re just not designed for aviation safety”

Firstly the uppers of these are made of highly flammable materials such as:

  • Breathable knit Polyester
  • Nylon mesh
  • Polyeurythane knit

And the Sole is usually made with:

  • Ethyl Vinyl Acetate : Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is the copolymer of ethylene and vinyl acetate. It’s an extremely elastic material that can  form a porous material similar to rubber… most common usage is in sole for running shoes and slops!!! 
Plastic Melting Point Range Ignition Temperature(celsius) Most Toxic Byproducts
Polyesters 220°-268° 432°-488° carbon monoxide
Cotton does not melt 407° carbon monoxide in low oxygen environments
Acrylics 91°-125° 560° carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide(HCN)
Nylon 160°-275° 424°-532° carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide
Polyurethane 85°-121° 416° polyurethanes form carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and other toxic products on decomposition and combustion.
Ethyl Vinyl Acetate* 42(softening) -71°(melting) 350° (flash point) explosion risk if material becomes gaseous

or suede leather which is admittedly better than the above but highly permeable and absorbing to petrochemical (petrol/gasoline) – NOT GOOD

Burning Plastic Melting into your skin is one of the major threats

May I draw your attention to the fact that its not just the ignition that is the concern with these materials, mostly its the melting plastic goo that sticks and sinks into your skin and makes an unbreathable barrier that creates a lethal consequence for people who get burned wearing these synthetic fibres…

Burning Plastic Creates Toxic Fumes That Will Choke You

Secondly when they burn they create a toxic fume that chokes people and that alone can cause rapid asphyxiation and death… even more severe than being burned – most plastic(as all of these are types of plastic) will create

  1. formaldehyde (chokes you and burns eyes reducing visibility etc)
  2. dioxins poison your system and have many unpleasant side effects
  3. hydrogen cyanide (causes asphyxiation and death)
  4. chlorine break down products

Typical toxins include

dioxins, furans and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Inorganic gases produced in plastic fires include carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, hydrochloric acid, hydrobromic acid, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen, hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.  its important to note most deaths by fire are caused by carbon monoxide.

I found this article while researching the toxicity of burning plastics:

“During the 2003 Station Nightclub fire in Providence, Rhode Island, which killed 100 people– and which my brother survived, the fire generated enough carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide to turn the place into a gas chamber in NINETY SECONDS.”

Leather is more Flame/burn Resistant

Flammability of tanned leather is resistant to a short-time exposure to temperatures up to 200°C (higher temperatures result in pyrolysis). Exposure to temperatures in the range of 130-170°C for several dozen minutes does not cause structural changes. (Resistance to higher temperatures requires appropriate finishing)

We have developed an improved pilots boot -and we’re calling it the flyboot…

What makes this boot so special is that it mitigates the risk from normal footwear pilots fly with!

Which if you think about it is the risk of fire and transference of heat from the engine in the case of a fire in the engine to the bottom of your feet… (without penetration of the firewall)

Obviously this is a huge risk if you’re flying in Nike’s, flip flops or some other running shoe… as both the sole and the uppers are made of highly flammable nylons (in the case of the upper) and (all made of EVA)

There are a few things to bare in mind when you are choosing a fly boot /pilot boot…

Comfort – this is probably the biggest factor in choosing a boot, as you will be wearing it every time you fly, if it’s bloody uncomfortable or heavy, you may end up choosing more comfortable but dangerous footwear…

How It looks: 

Shore hardness- ie how strong is the sole of the boot

Benefits of the Flyboot

Feature Benefit This Means
1.8mm -2mm thick BUFFALO leather tough and abrasion resistant it will not burn easily, the boot will last long, if taken care of it will not degenerate
no heel will not catch on levers or pedals In the event of an emergency you will not crash the plane due to your heel catching a pedal, in addition it provides greater sensitivity and allows better judgment..
single density polyurethane sole  light and tough the PU sole makes it a lot lighter and easier wear than the old SAAF combat style pilot boot, this makes the boot much more comfortable for frequent flying
soft padding and support comfort  Your feet feel comfortable, gone are the rock hard bottoms of the combat boot.
Self wicking inner keeps your feet dry and cool  you dont get that horrible sweaty feeling in your boots.
Looks really stylish   makes you feel more confident


I’m not making any of this up: Reference: