Richard Collins’s 10 most popular articles on Air Facts

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This week marks the one year anniversary of Richard L. Collins’s death, and we are remembering the legendary writer by reviewing 10 of his most popular articles. Over the years, Collins tackled a huge variety of topics, from weather flying tips to personal stories, but none were as popular as his detailed reviews of airplane safety records. As you can see below, some were good, some were bad, but almost all elicited strong opinions.

What I learned from Richard Collins

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One year ago, aviation lost a legend. Richard Collins left behind such a huge volume of writing over his 60+ year career that pilots will find rich rewards from re-reading his work. In general, the lessons he reminds me of seem to center around four main ideas: building margins, managing weather, respecting technology, and flying for transportation.

Friday Photo: frontal passage

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This photograph was taken just after a cold front associated with a low pressure system passed over the field. The system’s passage was preceded by a pulse of moisture with intense precipitation and a dramatic shift in wind. Twenty minutes later the leading edge of the front spawned a tornado – unusual in central California.

Near miss with a BUFF

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We were proceeding northbound at 2900 feet, and the Gulf of Mexico was off our right wing, and Highway 77 was off our left wing. Jean and I were all bundled up because N7405B didn’t have a heater. I was concentrating ahead, when my peripheral vision caught something to the left and crossing below us. I looked to the right and below. I shouted to Jean, “Look at that!” and pointed down and to the right.

How to unload a Boeing – by hand

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A side effect of technology and automation is the demise of the Flight Engineer. The first exits from the flight decks were the Boeing B767 and B747-400 and other Airbus aircraft. While there are excellent arguments supporting such developments, there were always advantages in having a flight engineer aboard to assist us pilots in “managing” a flight, not just doing the flying.

Low and fast – a bad combination

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Some pilots know that I am opposed to the practice of low-altitude flying for thrill purposes. This includes buzzing airports, houses, friends etc. While researching for this article and a presentation I gave on the subject, I found that this subject is debated by others as well. If you think the practice is legal and safe – change my mind. Comment on this article.

Friday Photo: California poppy bloom

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The Walker Canyon poppy bloom made national news for its beautiful scenery. But Fred Greensite had the best view: “Vastly more extensive, and much more awe-inspiring, than the ground level media views online and on TV had indicated. The mountains looked like they were on fire. The throngs of people arriving by car and exploring on foot missed out on so much.”

Early flight adventures – and errors

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At takeoff speed I commenced rotation, but the Cherokee just didn’t want to lift off and the controls were heavy. Being a newly-soloed student, I muscled the aircraft into the air. It was then that I glanced out at the wings and to my surprise found the flaps in the full down position. I had very obviously failed to release the flap lever in my haste to depart.

Go or No Go: flying to The Masters

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The big week is finally here – you and a longtime friend are flying to see The Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. As is often the case in spring, the radar is colorful. Are there enough holes in the storms to make the flight? Read the weather reports below, then tell us if you would fly the trip or cancel. 

Lost over Russia in an aerobatic airplane

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It is minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit in this foreign land north of Moscow. I am sitting in a single-seat, Russian Sukhoi 26 at the end of an ice-covered runway waiting to be cleared for takeoff. There is a lot going through my mind. First of all, I have never flown a single-seat Sukhoi 26.

Friday Photo: sun painting the clouds

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Sunsets are always beautiful from the cockpit, but they’re even better when a high cloud layer is involved. This photo from Joe Creecy, taken from his Cessna 182, shows the low sun over Nashville as it paints the clouds with shades of orange, yellow, and purple. Another “why I fly” moment.

The water is up close and personal in a Lake Amphibian

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Tavares, Florida, the town next to Leesburg where Dave and I live, is actually called “America’s Seaplane City.” Tavares is also the home of the Progressive Aerodyne’s SeaRay light sport amphibian. All of this makes this area a great place to enjoy seaplane flying. You always have a place to land in view when you are flying a seaplane in Lake County.

5 good things about general aviation in 2019

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I like to pause every few years and consider what’s going right in aviation. Call me a naive optimist if you like, but I still see a lot to appreciate, from the thousands of airports in the US to the relative openness of our airspace to the strong experimental aircraft movement. These trends are old news; five newer ones caught my attention at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-in last week, and I think they bode well for pilots.

Friday Photo: sunset over Istanbul

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While flying his Piper Meridian back from Balikesir, Necmi Cicekci “flew over Turkey’s most beautiful western coast. After investigating the Syrian migrants who had to cross the Aegean Sea, I had a great sunset on the way back to Istanbul. The sun was saying to us, ‘goodbye.'”

From anxiety to mindfulness meditation – a pilot’s journey to wellbeing

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I didn’t want to “self-disclose” anything that could ground me, and I really didn’t have a clue about what anxiety or depression was or how to treat it. I wasn’t suicidal or anything so who do I talk to? Who can I trust that won’t end up grounding me on the spot? For many of us, the thought of “talking to someone” can actually make the anxiety worse.

Winning over a reluctant passenger

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One day last spring, I stopped by the local airport and made that appointment to get back in the left seat. I had dreams of taking vacations with the wife to great destinations, most are only two hours away, including the Emerald Coast. I came home that evening and told my wife the great news. She had a look of terror on her face as she uttered the words, “You have a pilot’s license?”