History

Four Merlins to Momote

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In this current era of over-regulation, it may seem, understandably to anyone reading this story now, that we were a bunch of over-enthusiastic young men with little sense of professional responsibility. But it was another time and things were different then. For this ancient airman, they were the good old days and I mourn their passing.

From the archives: Dick Collins on airline vs. GA flying

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In our latest trip through the Air Facts archives, we discovered this gem from the April 1965 issue. Here, a young Richard Collins considers the advantages and disadvantages of traveling on the airlines versus flying oneself by light airplane. Is it really worth it to fly instead of ride? Nearly 50 years later, many pilots are still asking the question–Collins answers it definitively.

Profiling works in solving airplane problems–usually

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Profiling is, in this discussion, a procedure to narrow down the possible causes of a problem based on its location in the airplane and timing in the order of events in a flight, and then with evaluation of the potential causes, select appropriate solutions to try. The case I’m going to describe occurred with the Cessna T-37 twin jet trainer.

Navigating in the old days

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Flying in my little single-engine Cessna, my yoke mounted GPS unit gives me my exact position anywhere on the face of the earth, as well as a host of other valuable information and is a marvel of modern technology. It wasn’t always so. I was a crewman on a Navy land-based long-range patrol plane (P2V Neptune) back in the early 1960s and I’ll tell you all what it was like.

From the archives: Bob Buck flies a Connie from LA to London

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Bob Buck was one of Air Facts’ most popular writers in the 1950s and 60s, beloved for his first-hand accounts of the changing airline world. In our latest trip through the Air Facts archives, we fly from Los Angeles to London via the polar route, as told from the left seat of a Connie.

Remembering Saint-Ex.

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70 years ago, on July 31, 1944, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry took off on his last flight, from which he did not return. At 44, he was old for an operational pilot in World War II, and he was flying a fast, unarmed, photo-reconnaissance version of the single-seat Lockheed P38 Lightning fighter.

Getting past the ABCs

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As businesslike and matter-of-fact as the radio alphabet seems, a closer look shows it is packed with history, romance, mythology, literature and the lure of faraway places.

From the archives: Len Morgan on airline flying

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Len Morgan was a legendary airline pilot and writer, but many readers may not know that he wrote for Air Facts before going on to Flying magazine. This article, from the December 1953 edition of Air Facts, takes us back to another era and offers a look at the life of an airline pilot during the glory days.

From the archives: Journey to Wichita

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One of the first articles published on Air Facts when we relaunched in 2011 was Rob Buck’s delightful trip down memory lane, telling the story of a boyhood flight to Wichita with his father (legendary pilot Bob Buck). Here, we share the other side of the story: Bob Buck’s account of this same flight, as told in the April 1958 edition of Air Facts.

Richard Bach and Air Facts: long time ago…

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In the summer of 1960 a 24-year old Air Force jet fighter pilot, Richard Bach, submitted an unsolicited article to Air Facts. It was the beginning of an incredible writing career. Here, Dick Collins tells Bach’s story and we republish his very first Air Facts article.

Warp speed: birth of an aileron

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Instead of shifting its weight to right itself, as every bird-watching, would-be aeronaut assumed their winged subjects did, the buzzards flexed one wingtip up and the opposite down. Could there be a more unlikely, less romantic bird to bestow the gift of flight upon humanity?

Top 10 articles of 2013

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In 2013, Air Facts debated the big issues in aviation, offered tips for safer flying and shared some good pilot stories. If you missed any of the 160 articles we published this year, here’s our list of the 10 most popular.

The art of flying on silent wings

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In our latest trip through the Air Facts archives we share a beautiful meditation on soaring, written by legendary airline pilot Bob Buck. Bob was a pilot’s pilot, and his thoughtful, evocative description of what it’s like to fly without an engine will make you wish you were soaring with him. Think gliders are for wimps? Think again.

The first US Air Meet, 1910

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Fans attended the first major International Air Meet at Reims, France, in August 1909, with close to 500,000 spectators. It set the standard for all future air shows of the time, and inspired a group of American aviators to stage their own Air Meet. Here is the story.

Crash of the B-23 Dragon Bomber

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The afternoon I spent at the crash site of the B-23 “Dragon Bomber” was far different than what the eight crew men aboard the plane experienced when they went down on a routine training mission on January 29, 1943. As I sat in the shade of a pine by the lake next to one of the sheared off wings, I tried to imagine what they had gone through.

Connie flight from Paris to Cairo, 1951

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From time to time, we revisit an original Air Facts article that we think would make enjoyable and worthwhile reading today. So it is with Bob Buck’s “Flight to Cairo,” the legendary airline pilot’s story of flying a TWA Constellation from Paris to Cairo in the days before jet engines and GPS.

Will the real Harold Neff please stand up?

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Was Harold Neff a pioneering airmail pilot, a record-setting charter airline pilot, an Air Force Colonel or a regular general aviation pilot? As it turns out, all four. Here’s the fascinating story, from a man who knew at least one of them.

Eggs to Caracas, Venezuela

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Eggs. Who knew there would be a need to fly eggs from Florida to Venezuela? In this case, it was 28,800 pounds of eggs each flight, every night for weeks. Here is the story as it occurred in the summer of 1977.