Many of us know the experience all too well now and when lockdown started in March 2020, I suspected that this was not going to pass quickly. Instead of going to Turkey for the northern summer to fly tourists around Europe, I was now going to be at home for an indefinite period.

Fortunately, at that stage I have already bought an online course in web development and that became the thing that kept me busy, learning to code and building an e-commerce site for small local vendors. This was really challenging, kept my mind busy and I loved it, and it could be something I could use in future. Despite having hope to start flying before the end of 2020 and then not any more, my busy mind helped prevent me from falling into a deep hole…

Then, for a friend’s birthday, we contributed to a leather duffel bag as gift together with other friends. When I saw the bag on the evening of the party I was really intrigued by the work of this seemingly unknown local craftsman.

My old pilot case was really an overkill in this day of iPads and very little paperwork, and I’ve long thought how nice it would be to have something practical but much smaller. So, I contacted this gifted leather craftsman during the following week, we met up and he started making the first VNAV flight bag according to my instructions. The first prototype was almost perfect already and sold within two days of advertising via the online shop software, that I coded and integrated with PayFast for online payments.

A new business was born on 26 Oct 2020 and my wife was glad to see that my months of coding actually started to be useful! Small tweaks on the bags and refining work on the shop software continued and later included the ability to quote for international shipping on checkout.

International orders also started coming in and VNAV flight bags are now flying around the world based in Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia, UK, France, USA, Japan (possibly more places) and of course in SA and Namibia. From student pilots and hobby pilots to highly experienced international airline captains, all happily using their leather flight bags on a daily basis often crossing the big oceans and continents.

Apart from flight bags we also started making duffel bags, cross body (man-) bags, laptop bags and a lady’s backpack/handbag all named around the aviation theme.

We are truly blessed by the incredible support we got over the past year and would like to sincerely thank our loyal customers.

by VNAV Leather founder - Hein de Waal