Developed during wartime England at the Shirley Institute, Manchester, Ventile was designed to save the lives of naval Hawker Hurricane fighter pilots on escort missions in the Atlantic and Russian sea convoys.
Known also as 'Sea Hurricanes' or 'Hurricats', the merchant ships which they were catapulted from were not equipped for landings and so pilots would have no choice but to bail out into the icy cold sea, most dying after a few minutes from the exposure.
With the high risk, there was an urgent demand for a new, protective fabric that would be both comfortable to wear in the cockpit under combat conditions and also ensure survival by keeping the pilot warm and dry in the sea.
After extensive trials, scientists at the Shirley Institute in Manchester developed a fabric to be known as Ventile.
The new textile was made with long staple cotton fibers, and woven into an extremely dense weave, which when dry was breathable, but when came in contact with water, swelled and became impenetrable, insulating its wearer and preventing further passage of water.
Ventile extended survival times of the Pilots, from a few minutes to over 20 minutes, making rescue and survival a high possibility.
Since its invention in 1943 Ventile is continued to be used to this day by RAF pilots and other NATO air forces, and has also been a popular choice for use in outdoor sport and exploration garments.