The perfect copilot–of many years

I took Ann for her first ever airplane ride on May 30, 1956, in my Piper Pacer. I had been flying for five years then. A couple of years later we got married and she had really signed on. I took her for her final airplane ride on August 19, 2007. By that time she was pretty much an invalid and mounting and dismounting my P210 was just too much of a struggle. By then, I had been flying for 56 years.

We flew together all of over the country. In the early years our kids, Charlotte, Sarah and Richard were always with us. I think I remember that all three flew with us before they were a month old. We flew to weddings and funerals and family events and my logbook is a diary of sorts because we inevitably flew when there was a life happening and I made note of what it was.

N40RC

N40RC, the Cessna P210 that Richard and Ann Collins logged many hours in.

We were truly a flying family, taking trips on our own and with other flying families like the Bedells. Rowland and Julie have four kids, Catherine, Bill, Rob and Pete, and we looked like a bunch of Okies when we showed up in two airplanes carrying four adults and seven kids and wanted to borrow the airport car. Rowland and I had served together in the Cub Scouts in WW-II and were lifelong friends until he died too young, in 1990. You probably know Pete Bedell from his work in AOPA PILOT.

Tireless in support of my efforts, Ann typed manuscripts for books and articles, did a perfect job of entertaining and made thousands of bologna sandwiches for meal service to FLYING staffers as we flew around the country. Bryan Comstock, who worked at FLYING for a while, once told her that even a bologna sandwich tasted good at eighteen thousand feet.

Most of all, though, Ann was my everything. I just played that song on my iPod and the memories flooded my mind as I listened. In the 55 wonderful years that we were married she was perfect. Well, nearly, and more so than I.

I thought back to a trip in our Pacer, when we were moving to New York from Arkansas and were going to visit in Alabama along the way. Mother Nature was on a rare widespread July rampage over our proposed Little Rock to Dothan route. There were thunderstorms all over the place.

At one point, I decided we needed gas. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, looked like the best place and the specialist at the FAA station there said it was pretty good at the airport and looked pretty good in the direction from which we would be coming. It didn’t look so good from the other direction.

A Piper Pacer isn’t the best airplane in the world for serious weather challenges and ours was being tossed around by the turbulence. There was a lot of lightning and it was raining. In the thick of battle, Ann asked “Are you afraid?” I told her I wasn’t and she said, “Well I won’t be afraid either.”

One of the last things she said to me while squeezing my hand before she died on March 26 was “I am not afraid.” We flew through every imaginable kind of weather over the years and after all those thousands of hours, I guess she had reached the point where she wasn’t afraid of anything.

After a turbulent trip I would always tell her I was sorry about the bad ride. Her reply was always “It wasn’t that bad.” She never complained about slow trips or changed plans. And in probably at least 5,000 hours of flying together, only twice did she request that I land, now. I took her seriously both times and made unscheduled stops at Gainesville, Florida and Morgantown, West Virginia. Both times were but 30 or 40 minutes from our destination but I knew she needed to land.

I could regale you with many more tales of her determination to be a good copilot and courageous flying companion but I will stop there.

Ann, I loved you and always will, more than anything else in the world.

Ann Slocomb Collins, Gone West on 3/26/2013, the saddest day of my life.

147 Comments

  1. M. Gillis says:

    Rest in Piece Mrs. Collins

  2. Alvaro says:

    Richard excuse my bad English.
    Every word in your article reflects a life well lived.
    Here in Uruguay is a phrase that comforts me every time I hear it.
    Los pilotos no mueren, solo vuelan mas alto.
    Pilots don’t die, they just fly higher.

    Sorry your lost

  3. Eric Teng says:

    Dick, you are one of the luckiest men in the world to have such a wonderful wife, perfect co-pilot, Ann, sharing those happy years with you. I am sorry for your great lost… Like many of your readers, I am touched and tearing after reading the article… “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

  4. Mark Phelps says:

    Richard, I’m so sorry.

  5. MikePrevost says:

    My condolences, Dick. I hope your memories of her sustain you through your grief. Be well.

  6. Artemio Rivera says:

    My deepest condolences on the passing of Mrs. Collins. Your article reminded me of how precious a companion can be and how much we should treasure them when we still have them. You and Mrs. Collins enjoyed a wonderful life together and were together until her very last moment. That is priceless and you are a very fortunate man. As long as you remember her, she lives on with you. Peace be unto you Mr. Collins.

  7. Gary Figgins says:

    As a travel magazine editor whom you unknowingly helped earn his private certificate a few months ago, I wanted to take a moment to offer my condolences on your loss and commend you on such a fitting tribute to your co-pilot in the air and in life. May you always recall these memories vividly.

  8. Trevor Evans says:

    Richard, that article was beautifully written, I’m so sorry for your loss. You were both very blessed to have enjoyed such a wonderful life together. Kind regards and the most sincere condolences to you and your family.

  9. C. Frank Bales says:

    Richard,

    Another beautiful story about an even more beautiful person. I’ve always enjoyed your stories about planes when you mention how they fit in with your family activities. Just remembering one of those from an article in 1972(?) about a Baron B-55 that you took your family for one of your outings. We are a flying family too.

    So sorry for your loss.

  10. Steve Ells says:

    Richard;
    Thank you this moving and heartfelt tribute to Ann, your beloved co-pilot; again proving that a good wife is man’s greatest treasure.

  11. Brandon Freeman says:

    Richard,
    I’m trying not to tear up at work as I read this. My heartfelt condolences on your loss. You truly were very lucky to have a wife who flew with you through thick and thin. It reminds me to constantly be lucky about the wife I have, and I hope we have even a tenth of the adventures you two have had over the years.

    RIP Mrs. Collins

  12. Troy Hamon says:

    Dick, Thanks for sharing your story with us, yet again, even when it is the most personal and painful. Best wishes in trying times.

  13. Ken says:

    Dick, a wonderful heart-felt tribute beautifully written… I am so very sorry for your loss! May God’s grace be with you and your family in this sorrowful time.

  14. Wim says:

    Richard sorry to hear about your Loss, sincere comdoleances.

  15. Mike Morgan says:

    Mr. Collins,
    I’ve been reading your columns and writings since 1975, as a 15 year old yearning to fly. Your words have rung in my ears through training and many flights since earning my license and IFR ratings. Numerous articles are forever branded into my memory. This has been another. Yet like none before it. May God carry you through this tumultuous time.

  16. Jean-Pierre Vachon says:

    Mr Collins,

    Like many pilots, you are my mentor for IFR flying; so it is only natural that I greave with you for the loss of your lifelong co-pilot, may she rest in peace. Sincere condolences.

  17. Alden Lewis says:

    God bless.

  18. Fortson Rumble says:

    Mr Collins,

    As a man who very much loves his wife there was a small touch of jealousy that ran through me as I read your article. You see my wife is scared to fly and I would never push her to do something that in itself can be dangerous. You were truly blessed to have such a willing co-pilot. God bless her and GOD BLESS you sir.

  19. Todd Copeland says:

    RIP. Heartwarmingly told.

  20. Eddie hoff says:

    Mr. Collins,
    How truly sorry I am for your loss. May God step with you through these trying times and comfort you and yours through the healing. Thank you for sharing your story. You, also Sir, are a very courageous person. God Bless you!

  21. SAM SUTTLE says:

    Richard

    What a fitting piece for such a great lady.
    May you be comforted by your memories and the great reward she must surely be receiving. Thank you for so graciously sharing her and your life with us!

  22. Rod Smith says:

    So sorry Richard,you and the family are in our prayers.

  23. Kelly Kyle says:

    Godspeed, Mrs. Collins.

  24. Mike Dewey says:

    Mr. Collins,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Your writings are some of the first I remember about flying and helped inspire me to eventually get my certificate. Your great knowledge and gentlemanly character shine through every word you write. I know that you were as much a treasure to her as she was to you. Blessings and peace to you and your family.

  25. Rodger Ewing says:

    Mr. Collins,

    You write of a relationship we would all aspire to be blessed with. I am sorry for your loss, yet know she will be your forever copilot.

    Calm skies and smooth flying, my friend.

    Rodger Ewing

  26. John B. Caramagna says:

    “If it wasn’t so good then, it wouldn’t be so bad now!” Lots of love to you and those you hold dear. JC

  27. Todd Price says:

    Richard,

    I never met you or Ann but I have probably read every word you ever published. As a young man and new pilot in the 1970s, I was completely absorbed in your articles. I still read 40 year old FLYING magazines occasionally – just to get that original, special feeling back.

    It is remarkable that I am so saddened by the loss of someone that I never knew. You and your family are in my prayers.

    Todd Price

  28. Danny Resser says:

    Mr. Collins;
    Thank you for sharing yours and Ann’s story with us. No one is ever, truly gone as long as we remember them. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Sincerely;
    D. Resser

  29. Jonathan Cole says:

    It seems terribly unlikely that I waited 22 years to read my first book by Dick Collins. I had enjoyed his comments on many Air Facts videos through the years but finally read “Flying IFR” at the beginning of 2013. It’s sort of crazy but I felt like I knew this man like a friend after reading it. It is the most inspiring aviation book I ever read. I have read many columns from him as we’ll but this book is simply amazing. I happened upon this blog a few days ago and then I just read this most recent post. My heart is heavy but I am so thankful to read about his wonderful life with Ann. By the end I had tears in my eyes. Flying is the most magical thing I ever do and the joy of sharing it with a wonderful wife and a great family only makes it almost too good to be true. Dick, thank you again for such meaningful expressions. You are truly gifted in your ability to communicate. Thank you for sharing your life with us….and with Ann. You will be in my prayers during this difficult time.

  30. Sam Abdallah says:

    My deepest condolences for your loss. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with the world. She seems like a one of a kind individual. I hope you will rest easy in the fact that she now has her permanent wings. Your love and commitment to aviation as well as your marriage would only teach her to appreciate her new wings all the more. Rest in peace Mrs. Collins, on behalf of a world-wide community of mourning fellow aviators. Wishing you nothing but clear skies, tailwinds, and white sandy beaches.

  31. Larry Baum says:

    A lovely tribute to a wonderful woman. May you and your family find peace in her remembrance.

  32. Luis Bello says:

    Thank you for sharing this, my condolences to you and your family.

  33. Andrew Thompson says:

    Richard,

    In the pilot community, we share a certain bond. One that runs through each and every one of us. We celebrate common achievements and share in our shortcomings. As such, we have many friends who we have never met. You have shared so much with us over the years, and we are forever grateful. Fittingly, we stand by you and your family during these difficult days with loyal support. Ann still lives within the hearts she’s touched. From my family to yours, our condolences and prayers.

  34. Anthony Arcuicci says:

    Mr Collins,

    We are all with you. Hang in there my freind.

  35. joel says:

    What beautiful sentiments, and what an incredible companion to go through life’s journey. God bless you and your family in your time of grief.

  36. Edd Weninger says:

    I am a lifelong acolyte of your teachings, which have helped me to also exceed 50 years of safe flying.

    Although we’ve never met, please accept my condolences for your loss.

    Please thank your best co-pilot for helping you do what you do so well for the benefit of so many of us.

  37. Alan Yeong says:

    My deepest condolences, Dick. We have never met but your teachings via book & video have made you one of the greatest teachers that I have known in my flying career. Look after yourself and it’s great to see that both of you have lived such a wonderful life together. What a great couple. RIP Mrs Collins.

  38. Deanna Harms says:

    Thank you for sharing these sweet memories with your readers and friends. You have our deepest condolences. We, too, will try to follow your brave wife’s fearless example.

  39. Gary Unterschutz says:

    A wonderful tribute. You were blessed to have such a great co-pilot.

  40. Troy Whistman says:

    My deepest condolences, Richard. A beautiful tribute to Ann, it touched me. You’re in my thoughts at this difficult time.

  41. Liz Seal says:

    Mr. Collins,
    I’m not often compelled to comment on stories but I felt I should pass on the most comforting condolences that friend and fellow pilot told me after the recent death of a close family member.
    “As pilots, we are more blessed than the other people because we can take off alone in the airplane and climb closer to heaven than those that are earthbound. And in that solitude at whatever flight level you’re at, you can have a quiet conversation with your angels watching over you. There is nothing more comforting than a conversation with a loved one at 8000 ft”.
    May God grant you peace Richard.
    And he’s right.
    May you

  42. Liz Seal says:

    Mr. Collins,
    I’m not often compelled to comment on stories but I felt I should pass on the most comforting condolences that friend and fellow pilot told me after the recent death of a close family member.

    “As pilots, we are more blessed than the other people because we can take off alone in the airplane and climb closer to heaven than those that are earthbound. And in that solitude at whatever flight level you’re at, you can have a quiet conversation with your angels watching over you. There is nothing more comforting than a conversation with a loved one at 8000 ft”.

    May God grant you peace Richard.

  43. Linda Burton Ricks says:

    Mr. Collins,

    I had the joy of flying with you, TTN-AUO & back, and the pleasure of Ann’s lovely entertaining graces. You were both so blessed with each other and with a wonderful family.

    Thank you for sharing your eloquent tribute. My deepest sympathies to you all,
    Linda

  44. Brian Ford says:

    A wonderful and eloquent tribute to Ann. Her gracious hospitality and sense of humor were a blessing to any and all who had the good fortune to spend time with you both. Comfort and peace to you and your family Richard.

    Brian

  45. Virginia Fetz Jackson says:

    Mr. Collins,
    I don’t know if you’ll remember me, but I went to Auburn with Rich. I remember you visiting and taking our gang out to dinner. It was always a thrill 1) to have a good meal and 2) to listen to your aviation stories as we were all embarking on a career in aviation. Rich and I have lost touch over the years, but I remember our Auburn days so fondly. My sincere condolences on your family’s loss. I will treasure my memories of your family and keep all of you near in my prayers.

  46. My deepest condolences on your loss. Thank you so much for sharing your memories of Ann. I never had the privilege of meeting her but she was obviously a treasure.

  47. Tom Yarsley says:

    Richard:

    Acceptance of loss doesn’t ease the sting, nor fill the emptiness. May your many vivid memories bring you comfort. I’m certain that you were hers.

    -YARS

  48. Cary Alburn says:

    We’ve never met, but I feel as if you’re a friend whose words have meant much to me for more than 40 years. Thank you for sharing such a difficult piece to write. I pray for God’s comfort for you, knowing that no words can minimize your grief. May your memories of all those years with Ann sustain you through the many dark nights ahead.

    Cary

  49. Thank you for sharing your love for Mrs. Collins.

  50. Wayne says:

    What a blessing she was to you. Your post made me send a note to my co-pilot telling her how much I loved her. Thank you for the reminder.

  51. Amy L says:

    Richard, as someone whose parents flew together as pilot and co-pilot, and who herself swaps legs in the airplanes my husband and I fly, I have to tell you that your tribute to Ann touched me deeply. Our hearts are with you.

  52. Ben Postley says:

    Sorry Mr. Collins, God bless you and give you peace.

  53. gregg says:

    Very sorry to hear it, Mr collins. My deepest sentiments.

  54. Bill says:

    That is a sad sad story, Richard…My deepest condolences to you ! Bill

  55. Luigi. says:

    Thank you Mr Collins for this beautiful article. My condolences on the loss of your dear wife Ann. Your lives together is a treasure chest of wonderful memories of lives great lived. May your wife’s legacy live on within your children, grandchildren, and generations to come.

  56. Dan Freitas says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Mr. Collins; my deepest condolences to you and your family.

  57. John says:

    Prayers for you and family

  58. Philip says:

    Sorry for your loss…enjoyed your article.

  59. Liad says:

    Ann will keep us pilots safe when we fly close to heaven.

    God bless.

    Liad.

  60. Heartfelt condolences to you and your children sir. She’s making bologna sandwiches for a pilot with a higher rating now :)

  61. Joe Arluck says:

    Richard,

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Find happpiness and joy in your children and grandchildren for they are a part of Ann.

    joe

  62. Leslie Kassal says:

    Dear Mr. Collins,

    I proffer my deep condolences.

    Drew “DOC” Kassal, I am sure, is in heaven welcoming your beloved Ann.

    That’s where ALL the Angels are…………

    Blessings,

    Leslie Kassal

  63. Peter says:

    Greetings Richard, Thank you for sharing your love for a great woman with us all. I’m happy to know that you had so many wonderful flying adventures with her. Please consider writing about some of them.

    With Respect, Peter

  64. Giancarlo says:

    My condolences. It’s a great loss, but you should thank for the big gift you had living such a beautiful adventure together.

  65. Hunter Heath says:

    Richard,

    Such a loss always comes too soon. Like others who’ve written, I’ve benefitted in many ways from your writings and experiences. Thank you for letting us know about this fine woman whose loving support was an essential element of everything you did and wrote. Please take care of yourself as you adjust to life without her.

    Hunter Heath

  66. Tony Morrow says:

    Richard,

    I should hope that I am so lucky to find such a wonderful co-pilot. God bless you.

  67. John Campbell says:

    Mr. Collins I am so sorry for your loss but grateful for your example to all of us of a committed, loving relationship with your wife. A heartfelt thank you for this incredible example that is, sadly, all too rare these days. It is my prayer that you and your family will feel God’s peace and presence as you walk this most challenging road. Psalm 55:22 says “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” I wish you Godspeed and remind you that the prayers of many are being said on your behalf.

    God Bless,
    John Campbell

  68. Todd Wilemon says:

    Richard,

    May God continue to comfort you in this trying time. You were blessed with a wonderful ‘co-pilot’ for many years, and the memories of your life together will always with you. You have touched an unknown number of individuals with your writing over the years and we all share in your loss.

    Todd Wilemon

  69. Carlos T Rosario says:

    May God comfort you in knowing that she is flying in her most high and most remarkable journey in Heaven with a new pilot in God. My sincere condolences.

    Carlos T Rosario

  70. Steve Leonard says:

    Dick,

    We only met a couple of times — we toured a Concorde together in the 1970s in a maintenance hangar at JFK — but your writing was a major presence in my life for 40 years so I consider you an old friend. The volume of comment here shows I’m far from the only one.

    That was a beautiful tribute to Ann. Please accept my sincere condolences.

  71. Tom Baxter says:

    Richard,

    You never fully realize the impact someone had on your life, someone you’ve never even met, until you are unexpectedly brought to tears reading about THEIR loss.

    My deepest condolences to you and your family over the loss of your wonderful wife. Your words paint a beautiful tribute.

    May you find peace in those memories. Please take care.

    Tom Baxter

  72. Lee Burk says:

    Just this past Saturday I took my wife for her second flight with me. It was bumpy leaving RVS for PNC and I saw her squirm a few times and look around. Later at breakfast with our group one of them asked her how it was and she said it was fine except she wished the plane had an “oh crap” handle she could hold on to like my truck!!! By the way her first flight with me was a night flight to look at Christmas lights here in Tulsa. Saturday she told me she would travel with me in the airplane. I look forward to many flights and trips with her like Mr. and Mrs. Collins had. I too had tears in my eyes reading this, especially her words “I am not afraid”. RIP Mrs. Collins and God Bless Richard!

  73. This is a deep article showing the link between love, family, and aviation. Rest in peace, Mrs. Collins; my condolences to the family

  74. This is a deep article showing the link between love, family, and aviation. Richard, my condolences to you and your family. Rest in peace, Mrs. Collins

  75. Sir Richard

    What a loving tribute to your wife.

    My eyes are filled with tears as I write this to you.

    Your articles and books have held keep me alive and flying for 30 years.

    Thank you for sharing with all of us your joy of living!

    Richard Allen mooney N3863h

  76. Ron Horton says:

    I have turned to your articles first in over 46 years of flying, your ability to use the written word to put us beside you in the cockpit has made for generations of safer pilots.

    Your words of how it feels to have Ann beside you brought tears to my eyes as I realize it is such a blessing to have a spouse who shares the joy of flying; I, too, am so blessed and am grateful every day.

    May God reach His loving arms around you and your family and bring you grace and comfort and peace. What a treasure trove of memories you have; your lovely bride will be in your heart forever.

  77. Stormy Dayton says:

    A fitting tribute to someone who was MORE than a Co-Pilot ! My worst day was 1/30/99, and as long as you remember, she lives !

  78. Ray Laughinghouse says:

    Richard,

    My heartfelt condolences on your loss.

    Ray Laughinghouse

  79. TOM ST JOHN says:

    Richard,

    First my deepest condolences of your loss of Ann. Over the years of reading your articles and adventures I feel as if I knew both of you. Thank you for your eloquence. It is partly due to your stories that I have been flying now for some 36 years. For some 40 years now every month I have followed along as you have shared your travels and experiences. My heart is sad for your loss and again I thank you for all you have provided to me over the years.

  80. Don Woodbridge says:

    Dick,

    Like many others, I teared up reading your memories of your wife Ann. Your writing touched something inside of me and reminded me of the basic truth that I have known for many years–When you love someone it is inevitable that either you must mourn them, or they must mourn you. This should reinforce the determination to make life good while it is here and available.

    I first learned to fly sitting on my father’s lap in his Pacer, and later took a girl I was dating on her first airplane ride. She seemed bored, so I asked her if she’d like to see a stall… After 30 years of marriage, she will still willingly get in an airplane with me, which is kind of amazing considering how we started out.

    I wish you the best in your new life, and comfort for your grieving.

    Don

  81. Beth Robinson says:

    Richard, thank you for sharing your loss, and know that we all share your sorrow. We recently moved from CT to Arkansas, so was interested to learn you came from here. I have a dear husband, who did not have flying in a small plane on his bucket list, but he’s been my stalwart co-pilot for 20 years now and I can’t imagine flying without him. Thus, I truly feel your loss of your beloved co-pilot.
    Sincerely,
    Beth

  82. gregg reynolds says:

    My deep condolences Mr. Collins. Your eulogy for your wife is a magnificent tribute to her. What a grand marriage you shared together!

    You and your family are in my prayers.

    Gregg Reynolds

  83. Bill Scott says:

    Dick, my most sincere condolences at the close of a beautiful relationship. Sh was your friend, copilot, house mate, mom to your kids and life partner.

    Mine passed-on 21 years ago this month. If we were closer I would provide a shoulder or two, to lean or cry on. I know that’s what’s needed at this stage in your life.

    Those marvelous memories will always be there to bring joy to your heart.

    All the best the Lord can offer – from this day forward.

    Bill Scott
    Still in Gaborone, Botswana

  84. Paul Curs says:

    In your deep sadness you wrote one of the most eloquent love stories I’ve ever read. To write “Thank You” for sharing your thoughts and loss with us seems not enough … it was very, very special to all who read it. What a brave and special Lady she was. Peace be with you, your precious children and the family.

  85. Dick Tihany says:

    Dear Dick,

    I never met you but I saw you at airshows from the 1960s to the 19980s.

    You have always been a role model for me since the early 1960s until now.

    My first solo was in a J-3 at College Park, Maryland and I got my private license there in 1972.

    Since then I have flown mostly single engine aircraft but I’ve also flown the 747, DC-10, MD-11, MD-83, MU-2, and the Russian Yak-40 (in Russia, during the final year of the Soviet era).

    I now divide my time between Buenos Aires, New York, Helsinki and, most recently in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing.

    I regret that I never had a chance to meet Ann or you but I wish Ann the best in the Big Sky and you in the smaller sky.

    With best regards,

    Dick

  86. Eugene Leeman says:

    Dear Dick

    My sincere condoleances for the loss of your Best Copilot.
    Your message says it all, it deeply hurts.
    That you mau find all the strenght to bear this loss.
    It may give some support that many pilots are with you these days.

    take care
    Eugene
    Paris

  87. Margaret says:

    In the Jewish tradition, when someone dies we say, “May their memory be for a blessing.” May your dear wife’s memory also be invoked for a blessing….

  88. Reuben says:

    So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing such a loving tribute to your sweetheart. May you find comfort in those special memories.

  89. Jim Frankenfield says:

    Dear Richard, I’m trying to type through my misty eyes…..to wish you condolences for your loss of your beloveded Ann, your co-pilot in life. As I wrote to you last year, my beloved Mary (whom I served as HER co-pilot on many a trip) went west on Good Friday a year ago.

    What wonderful memories you and I have of our years together with our life’s partner, with all of it’s ups and downs (pun intended). Hold on firmly to the UPs. For Ann and Mary are UP with the Angels, and this thought will sustain us both. Jim

  90. James Hicks says:

    Dick, I never knew you–and always knew you. Flying the Pacific Northwest for 25 years in my T210 led me to many moments that I would think, “what would Dick do in this situation?” I guess I always made the right decision because the airplane and I are still here in one piece. So your loss is my loss, and, reading the plethora of responses to your article, the loss of many. No one will ever replace her, but your friends all over the country will welcome you with open arms as you may journey to their homelands. I certainly will. Portland OR

  91. Mike says:

    So, so, so sorry Richard.
    I can relate, my favorite co-pilot is also my wife, such a good sport and partner just as your Ann.
    My most sincere condolences.

  92. John Garzione says:

    Richard,
    My heartfelt condolences to you and your family. (I feel like I know them all through your writings.)
    May Ann rest in peace.

  93. David Dibbell says:

    Richard, so sorry to hear of your loss. Your reflections on Ann are powerful. May you find comfort. I will remember your early flying days with her when my Pacer, being re-covered and restored this year, flies again soon.

  94. Scott Hanson says:

    Even in describing the saddest event of your life you still write eloquently. Your wife would be proud! So sorry for your loss.

  95. Jules says:

    Beautifully said Dick, you have honored a wonderful lady . Thank you for sharing your inspirational love story and long may you enrich the lives of so many with your other love: flight!

  96. Charles Lloyd says:

    Richard,

    My heart goes out to you and your family. One cannot ask for more in a marriage than a true friend, companion through all life’s adventures both thick and thin while also being a good co-pilot.

    May both Ann and you be blest with sunshine over your shoulders and tailwinds as you constant companions.

  97. Tyler Lee says:

    I am very sorry for your loss, Mr. Collins.

  98. John Townsley says:

    I am so very sorry for the loss you and your family have endured. Your brief article is a tribute that strums the strings of my heart and soul. John

  99. Rob Merrell says:

    Richard,
    My truly heartfelt condolences on your loss. My wife of 35 years is waiting for me to complete my sport pilot license so we can share the joy that you have had in your life. A little late but I have waited my entire life for this opportunity and thank you for your lessons.

  100. Kelvin Vanderlip says:

    Dear Mr. Collins,

    Your courage and dedication to Ann, and her great tolerance of your avocation, are a wonderful story for all of us. God bless Ann, and yourself.

    Thank you for decades of superbly thought out and written stories.

    Kel Vanderlip

  101. JJ SIFONTES says:

    Mr Collins,I have been following your career for the last forty years.Today I am a better Pilot partly because of you.I am sincerely sad about your loss, no words to describe it.You have been a part of my life and career,so as far as I am concerned, a good friend has suffered a great loss.Please take care. JJ Sifontes

  102. Garry Copeland says:

    Mr Collins, my heartfelt condolences for your loss. G Copeland

  103. Buck Hiltebeitel says:

    Mr. Collins,
    My sincere condolences to you and your family.
    Buck

  104. Vince Matsui says:

    Dick – After all the education you have provided me over the years in your books and videos, I feel we are family. Your loss is my loss. And your tribute to your departed wife is a very deep and personal one. Thank you for sharing yet again. May time and the memories salve your loss. Vince

  105. Jimbot says:

    Mr. Collins,

    I am so sorry for your loss. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

  106. D. Edward Curran says:

    As an old Air Facts contributor and reader I feel as if I know you. I corresponded
    with your father often. Just want to say how sorry I am. God bless.

  107. Thomas Ivines says:

    I know what it is like to have a wife as your best flying buddy. When I was dating there were women who would ride on my motorcycle but would not get in my airplane. “Don’t those little airplanes crash all the time,” I would hear. Then there were the ones who would fly with me but would never think about riding on my motorcycle. “Don’t those motorcycles crash a lot,” I would hear. Then I met this beautiful woman who agreed to ride on my motorcycle to the airport to go for a ride in my airplane. “They are both so cool,” she said afterwards. I had to marry her and to this day she still flies with me and rides on my motorcycle. I would be devastated if I ever lost her. I really so feel for you and your loss.

  108. Carlos Ramos says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  109. Ernie Kelly says:

    Any spouse, pilot, or reader would be touched by your moving tribute. Someone who plays all three roles – as I do – could not help but be deeply moved. Thanks for sharing your life with us over the years. You have been blessed and have blessed others in return. There is no greater gift.

  110. Andy Kopetzky says:

    Richard I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. May God bless you and your family.

  111. Stephan Wurmbrand says:

    Richard,

    May the memories of your beloved Ann and the love you shared togather comfort you. And thank you for sharing with us a glimmer of that wonderful marraige.

  112. Hans Friedebach says:

    Richard,
    my sincere condolences on your great loss. Like you, it is my great fortune to have a supportive copilot in my airplanes and in my life. How many freshly minted brides would have cheerfully copiloted a honeymoon flight from Kansas to Germany in a Queen Air with an overnight stop in Greenland? Greenland, – where native legend has it that they’re not really stars in the night sky but windows in heaven through which our departed loved ones look down on us.
    I’m sure one of those windows now has Ann Slocomb Collins looking down on us.
    May your shared memories continue to be the wind under your wings!

    Hans Friedebach

  113. Paul Ryan says:

    I was deeply touched reading episodes of your life together with your eternal companion. May comfort come from belief that life does not have an end.

  114. Michael Vallo says:

    I wish that there was something that I could say to ease your pain.

  115. Larry says:

    Dear Richard,

    Thank you for your loving tribute. So sorry for your loss.

    I can relate to some of your experiences. Judy and I took a ride in a Cessna 172 on our first date in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We were married on Dec. 27, 1958. (Close to the same number of total years married as you and Ann) We have flown together in our Cessna 180 in the USA, Mexico and Honduras. However, I cannot relate with you in your last experience. I can only imagine your sadness. I know that sooner or later Judy and I too shall part. The Lord Jesus Christ has made a way to heal the hurt and we will see each other again. (Read the gospel of John chapter 6, verses 39,40,44, and also chapter 11, verses 23-26) Please feel free to write me directly if I may be of any counsel.

  116. David Cook says:

    Mr. Collins, I was deeply moved and inspired by your article of the “greatest co-pilot ever”. I pray God comforts you and your family in your time of loss. The rest of us should be so fortunate to have someone so precious in our lives.

  117. Tim Thornton says:

    Mr. Collins,

    I am just starting my flying career, as a liscenced pilot, but I feel I have been a pilot for many years. Part of that was you keeping the dream alive as a gifted teacher and flying story teller, until life found it’s way to let me reach that lofty goal of being called a”pilot”. It is evident by the loving description of your life together with your wife Ann, that you two were very fortunate to have each other. I, like so many that have responded to the post, have been very touched and moved by your loving words; the first thing I did when I read them was call my wife and tell her “I love you” and lets go flying!

    God bless you, and your family.

  118. John Wood says:

    Dick Collins, Sir: – Reading your and Ann’s story struck me hard, realizing how alike your story is to mine. I lost my partner (Tommie Standifer Wood, 10-10-33 – 3-23-2011). We were married 30Jnuary 1953 and I got to keep her for 58 years, having lost her almost exactly two years before yours. She too rode many a mile with me in various airplanes, despite poor health for much of that time. she honored me by continuing to believe I knew everything and could do anything, in the face of 58 years of evidence to the contrary. God bless you and hang in there. Life goes on – John Wood

  119. John Wright says:

    Choked me up a little

  120. John Arguell says:

    Dear Richard,

    First of all, please accept my deepest condolences in the loss of your wife. I can only imagine how difficult it is to lose your life’s partner.
    I remember you from so many years ago, when I enjoyed your stories in FLYING magazine. I was at the junior college here in Corpus Christi,
    Texas, and saw a high school friend who I had not seen in years, and made fast friends with her fiancee. Turns out he had a sectional on the table planning a cross country, and he offered me a ride in a Cessna 150, N704RN. I earned my Private in 1979, from a old pilot named Frank Hover, who had over 34,000+ flying hours. It was the best thing and greatest accomplishment of my life. Your articles kindled the desire in me to learn to fly, as well as the first flight I ever had in an airplane, when I went in the C-150.
    May God Bless your Beloved Ann and may He watch over you always. Thanks for all the help and motivation you gave me through your articles to make one of my biggest dreams a reality.

    Sincerely and with the utmost respect and admiration,

    John Arguell

  121. Dick Collins says:

    My heartfelt thanks to you all for the kind comments. Richard

  122. Arnold says:

    Mr Collins,

    From over here in Brazil I offer my condolences and great respect for your perfect copilot.

    I am a CP only the early stages of my career and stories like yours full fill my love for flying and sharing with those I love too.

    My mom flu with me with when I had just taken my PPL. What a courage woman.
    Inside the little C172, an airplane she never saw so small, she was green and blue all over the flight but never said anything but smile and enjoyed ! What a buch of brave woman we have :)

    Eventually we all will fly higher.
    But this time when you meet Ann again you gonna be her copilot :)

    Much love and respect

    Arnold

  123. Richard says:

    Richard,

    My condolences to you and your family. Based on your words, I thought I’d leave you with these words of wisdom from the Jewish faith. I am sure your beloved Ann embodied them all:

    A woman of valor, who can find? Her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and nothing shall he lack. She renders him good and not evil all the days of her life. She opens her hand to the needy, and extends her hand to the poor. She is robed in strength and dignity, and cheerfully faces whatever may come. She opens her mouth with wisdom. Her tongue is guided by kindness. She tends to the affairs of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness. Her children come forward and bless her. Her husband too, and he praises her. Many women have done superbly, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a God-fearing woman is much to be praised. Place before her the fruit of her hands. Wherever people gather, her deeds speak her praise.

    • David C says:

      Richard,

      Thanks for that statement from the Jewish faith regarding the good wife. In case you are interested, it is taken from the Bible, Proverbs 31: 10-31.

  124. Mac L says:

    Thanks for the comments. After 40+ years, my wife is my constant companion, best friend and co-pilot.
    Bless both of you for a satisfying and substantial relationship. And my thoughts are with you on her passing.
    Thanks for sharing.

  125. Bob Thomason says:

    Ditto to all of the above.

  126. Mike says:

    Mr. Collins,
    My family and I are so sorry to hear of your loss. Will keep you and yours in our prayers. Rest In Peace Ann.

  127. Mark says:

    Isn’t love the greatest thing in the world? Tears in my eyes, my condolences.

  128. RM Moore says:

    A wonderful tribute to the bond of love. This is what life is for. Commitment is the stuff of really living. My sincere condolences. RMM

  129. Bill Polits says:

    Dear Richard Collins,

    Your article was very moving. Best wishes to you and yours for moving through the grief in due time.

    Blessings,

    Bill

  130. Dan says:

    Richard,

    I’ve been a pilot for nearly 25 years. It has been my privilege to read most of your books. They continue to have a prominent place in my home library.

    I just read you blog of April 3 regarding the loss of your wife of 55 years. That is such a rarity today; to live with a companion and soul mate for such a long but quickly passing time. My heart and prayers goes out to you and your family during this very difficult time.

    Blessings and peace to you,
    Dan (Working on our 37 year of marriage.)

  131. Tony says:

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

    Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  132. JOHN BOULEY says:

    DICK,

    VERY MOVING STORY. SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS. IN THE WORDS OF DR. SUESS “DON’T CRY BECAUSE IT’S OVER SMILE BECAUSE IT HAPPENED”

  133. Joe Weinberg says:

    Mr. Collins,

    A truly reamrkable memorial to a wonderful soul mate. You have my deepest sympathy.

  134. John Owen says:

    Mr. Collins,
    I grieve with you for your loss. When my wife of 30 years died in 1999, I felt that the front half of my heart hed been ripped off.
    She too had a death process, her’s took 5 years and then she was gone. I was as unprepared as if it had happened suddenly.
    She was a Christian and therefore I know she is in a very good place and very loved. To my shame it took me 5 years to forgive her for dying, that was far too long.
    My prayers are with you.

  135. Evelyn Kropp says:

    I am so sorry, Mr. Collins.
    You were so blessed to have her that long.
    My co-pilot left me a long time ago.
    With my deepest sympathy,
    Evelyn Kropp

  136. Thomas Autrey says:

    Mr. Collins,

    My heart-felt condolences sir. After reading your story I shared it with my wife/co-pilot on FB. I told her that I loved her. Thank you for reminding me of how precious our soul mates are.

  137. Ray Laughinghouse says:

    My condolences to you and your family.

    Sincerely… Ray

  138. Gary Lacher says:

    Dick I think I have read most every word you have published and references to your wife were pretty scarce. You have kept your private life very separate from your public persona and so all the more now we appreciate that you have shared your loss with us, and allow us to share your grief. Bless you both, for all you had and were to each other.
    Deepest Sympathy,
    Gary

    • Don Josephsen says:

      AMEN to what you said Gary about Mr. Collins. He is one of a kind and will NEVER be replaced. Dick, may your wife rest in peace, and keep your info flowing

  139. jim corban says:

    Dear Richard,
    I am sorry to hear of the loss of Mrs. Collins. My Dad purchased a 1953 Pacer in April 1963 which I still own. I have many fond memories fly it with my Parents, my Wife and now my Daughter. The N-number has been changed to my Mother’s birth date and my Dad’s initials as a tribute to there 63 years together.

  140. Wil Kleck says:

    Dear Richard,

    I want to say “THANKS” for sharing your knowledge and passion of Flying with me and so, so many others over so many years. Pilots are truly kindred spirits and share more in common than we know or can express. The long list of replies (that I add mine to) testify to an attempt to reach out to you in your loss and hopefully say something that will ease your grief just a little. But I think you already know that.

    Take care!

    Wil Kleck

  141. Rod Harbin says:

    Dick, sorry to hear of the loss of your co-pilot. Very sad indeed. This only makes me want to fly with my Cathy more than before. Thanks again for all the years of great aviation articles. rh

  142. John Dill says:

    Mr. Collins,

    As a long time reader I am saddened by your loss. Your contributions to aviation include the many lessons you taught us about weather flying. Just the other day I was faced with a divert while VFR due to a rapidly developing squall line and my first thought was “What would Dick Collins do?” Your long ago advice was, in so many words, “take the safe way out and live to fly another day”. I did and I will. Thank you.

  143. David says:

    Blessings to you Mr Collins. Thank you for sharing this very personal memory.

  144. Jack Hess says:

    I have never written a comment to anyone – ever. You have always meant so much to me. I consider you the best, perhaps now there is a tie for best.