5 min read

This magazine was founded in 1938 by Leighton Collins to advocate for “facts – knowledge – safety.” Since then, its pages have been filled by some of aviation’s greatest writers, including Richard Collins, Wolfgang Langewiesche, Bob Buck and Richard Bach. From time to time, we even republish articles from the old Air Facts magazine.

John Zimmerman

Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman

Given that rich history, it may seem odd to celebrate a fifth birthday, but Air Facts in its current form was relaunched five years ago, in March 2011. Five years may be the blink of an eye in the print publishing world, but it’s practically a lifetime online. So on behalf of Editor Emeritus Richard Collins and Managing Editor Patricia Luebke, let me take just a moment to celebrate and reflect.

We’ve heard from many readers that “Air Facts is unique among aviation websites.” We think the difference can be summed up in one word: authenticity. In an industry that sometimes publishes press releases more than analysis, wishful thinking more than honest stories, Air Facts stands out for its commitment to authentic flying. That means:

  • Real stories. We don’t report the news at Air Facts. There is plenty of that to keep up with, for sure, but there are also plenty of other outlets for that information. We prefer to share practical flying tips and authentic flying stories that have an impact on pilots. We aren’t here to promote or cajole, just to engage in some online hangar flying. You can read some of our most popular articles below.
  • Real pilots. Unlike almost any other aviation publication, Air Facts is primarily reader-written. From young student pilots to 20,000-hour Alaska bush pilots, we welcome all aviators to share their stories. Some are truly gifted writers, some simply write from the heart, but you never know what you’ll read – or who you’ll meet – at Air Facts.
  • Real conversations. The internet has always held great promise as a platform for conversation and debate. Unfortunately, that promise has often gone unfulfilled, as websites get overrun with angry, petty arguments (just read some YouTube comments if you doubt us). We are very proud that a different tone has taken hold at Air Facts. Most often, readers engage in thoughtful, intelligent debates about legitimate aviation issues. There are certainly disagreements, but they are typically argued with facts and good manners, which means we can all learn from them.

If you’re new to Air Facts, we hope you feel welcome at our hangar flying session. Be sure to subscribe to our biweekly email newsletter and tell a friend. But don’t be simply a reader of Air Facts; be a contributor too. That could mean sharing a comment on an article or even writing an article for us.

Whether you’ve been with us for 77 years or five, thanks for flying with us. We hope you’ll join us on the next leg of our flight.

John Zimmerman

Top 10 articles of all time on Air Facts

  • What was wrong with V-tail Bonanza pilots?. Dick Collins investigates the popular but sometimes-controversial Beech Bonanza. Why did it earn the “doctor killer” nickname, and was it deserved?
  • How hard is it to fly an airplane? It’s simple… Mark Fay reflects on flying and the various skills it requires to do well. You certainly don’t have to be a genius to be a pilot, but there is a lot going on when you think about it.
  • What’s wrong with Cirrus pilots? The Cirrus promised a breakthrough in safety when it was first certified, but the facts told a very different story. Collins deduces that the problem is with the pilots, not the airplane – although recent trends suggest this is finally changing.
  • 10 things “real pilots” do. Lots of pilots talk about “real pilots” as if they’re some mythical creature, but John Zimmerman says it’s phony. Real pilots aren’t overconfident fools, they’re humble enough to recognize their limitations and fly safely.
  • 11 things you must do with your pilot’s license. Nobody earns a pilot certificate so they can practice landings. In this article, we list 11 boxes you need to check, from taildraggers to Oshkosh.
  • 7 instrument approaches you have to see to believe. Not all instrument approaches are created equal. If you don’t believe that, check out some of these ridiculous approach charts – from odd visual approaches to 4500 ft. minimums, some of these will make your head spin.
  • Why you must fly a taildragger. Flight Instructor Anandeep Pannu says there’s no better way to improve stick and rudder skills than to fly a taildragger. He goes on to explain exactly why, and offers some tips for “staying honest.”
  • The truth about the iPad. Four and a half years later, this article rings as true as the day it was written. The iPad and aviation apps have changed the way we fly – mostly for the better.
  • The Great Debate: do pilots lie on medicals? Over 190 pilots have shared their opinion on this hot topic. With the third class medical perhaps being eliminated, this debate takes on deeper meaning. The consensus seems to be: “yes, but sometimes it’s an honest mistake.”
  • The Skycatcher’s death proves the LSA rule is a failure. Cessna launched their first Light Sport Aircraft with much fanfare, but it never found a market and has since been discontinued. What lessons does that hold for the LSA industry as a whole?
John Zimmerman