In this trip into the Air Facts archives, ride along with Leighton Collins as he gets a familiarization flight in a Lear Jet 24 in 1967. With a variety of small jets hitting the market in recent years, from the Cirrus Jet to the Eclipse, many of Collins’s reactions to flying a powerful jet 50 years ago might sound familiar. Collins concludes, “they’ve really got themselves a show horse in the Model 24.”
One of the most popular stories from the Air Facts archive is Leighton Collins’s spellbinding trip report from the cockpit of an early Boeing 707 on the way to Europe. In this article, we move 10 years into the future, as Collins again flies to Europe with TWA captain Bob Buck. This time they are in the larger and more advanced 747.
This article, originally published in the May 1965 issue of Air Facts, is a companion to Richard Collins’s recent article on “The three keys to flying safely.” Here, Richard’s father considers the history of angle of attack as both a concept and an instrument, which offers important lessons for pilots of any airplane. This is not a new debate.
Nearly 70 years ago, Air Facts editor Leighton Collins called out the need for a better flight training system. In particular, he lamented that “we have never had a flying system designed for the civilian.” His comments are a surprisingly relevant contribution to today’s debates about flight training.
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 Leighton’s “Flight 700,” his story of flying with iconic Captain Robert Buck in a 707 at the beginning of the Jet Age. This is a detailed description of a flight, and like us, you will no doubt marvel at how much has changed.
The Richard Collins family has partnered with Sporty’s to offer The Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. To qualify, the writer must be a pilot (including student pilot) who is 24 years of age or younger. The article must be original, not previously published, and no longer than 1,500 words. The topic may reflect any aspect of general aviation flying.
Memories are stored like snapshots in a shoebox. Moments frozen in time. Dick Collins was hunched over his typewriter tapping away that day in the fall of 1964 when I first saw him. He politely said hello, but kept working against a deadline as his father, Leighton Collins, showed me around the Air Facts office in Princeton, New Jersey.
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. 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.
The original Air Facts magazine was founded 76 years ago last month by Leighton Collins, and we relaunched as an online-only magazine four years ago this month. Over this time period, we’ve debated hot topics, shared great flying stories and revisited some of the unique articles from our history. In reviewing many of these articles, a few trends stand out.
If talking about safety is an aeronautical sin, meet the two biggest perps, my father, Leighton Collins, and myself. Guilty as charged since February, 1938, when AIR FACTS started.
Back in February of 1958, my father and I took Leighton Collins’ first Cessna 182 back to the factory in Wichita, where it was traded for a brand new Cessna 182 Skylane. I was eight years old and the adventure was the first time my father had taken me beyond local flights, usually from Linden Airport in New Jersey. It was also a gamble for him
What is aviation, in a word? Many writers have tried to answer that question, and the word mentioned most often is freedom. Aviation sets you free, whether it’s freedom from the ground-bound view of the world or freedom from everyday worries. That’s certainly true, but I’d like to offer another nominee, even if it’s not as poetic: connection.
I was so lucky to work for and with Richard for more than 40 years. Richard refused to be called an aviation journalist. What he did, and I did, at FLYING magazine, and for him at AOPA Pilot, and then for Air Facts Journal on the web, is personal aviation promotion. Richard championed the cause of using our own airplanes for personal travel on our own schedule with a maximum of schedule reliability and safety.
On the 80th anniversary of AIR FACTS’ founding, I see two good questions: (1) What have been the major factors in the safety record improvement over the years and in particular the last couple of years? And, (2) Is there any way to reduce the risk even more? It is tempting to give technology a lot of potential credit for improvements but a look back throws a bucket of water on this.
Recently I read where an academic has suggested that talking about what is going on might be helpful to folks flying single-pilot IFR. That rekindled my interest in the subject of us talking to airplanes and how airplanes respond. Put another way, it relates to how we talk to ourselves, or think, about how what we are doing is affecting the airplane.
I am not much for commemorations, preferring a windshield over a rear view mirror view. But, hey, maybe I have set a record: 70 years and still going so I’ll offer that up for contemplation and as well as a challenge to the younger folks in this business today. It would make me proud if someone did it for longer.
To me, the sweet spot on a VFR approach is when 500 feet above the ground and descending toward the runway. Here, if the sight picture of the runway is correct and the configuration, speed and rate of descent are right on, the fun part, the landing, should be a piece of cake. The question is, how do you get to that sweet spot with the least possible risk?
This in-depth report, originally published in the September 1960 edition of Air Facts, is Bob Buck at his best. The legendary airline pilot and author takes us along as he checks out in the Boeing 707, the defining airplane of the jet age. From practicing maneuvers to taking a check ride and flying to Europe, Buck explains how the big jet flies, why it’s different and how it is changing the airline business.
I am so lucky. Every flight, I am accompanied by nine extraordinary pilots, looking over my shoulder and whispering in my ear. They have made my flying safer, more enjoyable and less expensive. They’ll go with you, too. All you have to do is ask.
In this important new article, Richard Collins sums up over 50 years of aviation safety writing with three key concepts – “the things that a pilot really needs to know to stay alive.” It turns out safe flying has a lot more to do with mindset than fancy maneuvers.