Top 10 articles of 2020 on Air Facts

We published over 250 articles on Air Facts in 2020, written by a diverse group of over 200 pilots from all over the world, but these 10 were the most popular. Read this list for some thought-provoking articles on all aspects of aviation, from close calls to airplane history to safety debates.

From the archives: Checkout in a Spitfire

The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the most beautiful airplanes to ever take to the skies, and an effective one too, with a sterling record during the Battle of Britain. In this trip into the Air Facts archives, Nancy Miller takes us inside the famous Spit for a look at what it was like to fly one. She should know—she logged nearly 1,000 hours ferrying airplanes for the RAF.

Remembering Pat Luebke, Long-time Air Facts Managing Editor

Aviation lost a truly special person last week, but it’s not a name most pilots outside the publishing industry will know. Patricia Luebke, managing editor at Air Facts and one of the driving forces behind relaunching this magazine in 2011, passed away on Friday, November 22, 2019 after a brief illness. She was 69. Here we share remembrances from four colleagues.

From the archives: Langewiesche on the weather revolution that mostly happened

Datalink weather has made flying both easier and safer. If you don’t believe that, read this fascinating article from 70 years ago. Legendary author Wolfgang Langewiesche explains why the weather information pilots had in 1949 was so limited, and what could be done to improve the situation. Many of his wish list items have become a reality.

Reader question: in what year did you first solo and what was the airplane?

The first solo – a red letter day in the life of a pilot. For most of us, that event is permanently etched in our memory. We can remember the airplane, hear the radio calls, and feel the relief and excitement when it was over. So this month we want to know what year you completed your first solo, and what the airplane was.

Go or No Go: IFR over the mountains

Since upgrading to a Cirrus SR22 Turbo a few years ago, you’ve really started using your instrument rating for serious travel. The airplane is well-equipped with a TKS deice system, Garmin glass cockpit, and built-in oxygen. All of those are useful for your typical flights around Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Oregon. Today is no exception, as the mission calls for a two-hour flight from Billings, Montana (BIL), to Boise, Idaho (BOI).

From the archives: Wolfgang Langewiesche on airports in every town

This inspiring article, first published in the October 1956 edition of Air Facts, reflects the big dreams of the mid-1950s and perhaps the missed opportunities for general aviation. Legendary writer Wolfgang Langewiesche argued for a nationwide network of landing strips (not airports, just a place to land), to be created as a part of the Interstate Highway System that was born with the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956.

Reader question: what do non-pilots ask when they learn you fly?

When meeting someone for the first time, talk often turn to hobbies or professions – the dreaded, “what do you do?” question. For most of us that means flying and a long conversation about airplanes, weather, safety, and so much more. So this month’s question asks: when you tell someone you’re a pilot, what question do you know is coming next?

Reader question: what is the best and worst airport you’ve visited?

What makes for a good airport? Is it the scenic location, the friendly tower controller, the low fuel prices, or the memorable courtesy car? Or does it have more to do with the memories at the airport and the flights that started or ended there? In this month’s reader question, we want to know the best (and worst) airport you’ve ever flown into.

Reader question: how do you know you’re an aviation nerd?

Many pilots will freely admit to being aviation nerds, avgeeks, or flying nuts. Whatever phrase you use to describe the affliction, we want to know the defining characteristic. Is it the number of airplane models you own? The bookshelf full of POHs? The flight training debt you work to pay off?

Reader question: have you ever met a celebrity through aviation?

General aviation attracts all kinds of people, from teenagers learning to fly to Hollywood stars traveling by private jet. For many everyday GA pilots, that means it’s not uncommon to cross paths with a celebrity at the airport. For this month’s reader question, we want to know whether you’ve ever met a famous person through aviation.

Richard Collins’s 10 most popular articles on Air Facts

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.

From the archives: Wolfgang Langewiesche on mountain flying

Wolfgang Langewiesche is famous for writing the bible on flying, Stick and Rudder. He was also a friend of Air Facts founder Leighton Collins and a frequent contributor for the magazine. In this detailed article from 50 years ago, Langewiesche offers some timeless tips for flying in the mountains.

Reader question: have you ever experienced aviation nirvana?

This month’s reader question asks whether you’ve ever experienced something special in the air – what we are calling aviation nirvana. We don’t mean just a flight well flown or a fun trip, but a truly perfect aviation moment. Was it the airplane that made it special, or the people? Did it even involve flying?

From the archives: Wolfgang Langewiesche on quiet airplanes

In this prescient article from 50 years ago, legendary pilot and writer Wolfgang Langewiesche considered the role of general aviation airports in a world of ever-expanding suburban communities. He saw the need for a quieter breed of airplanes in order to prevent a public backlash. Now, with electric airplanes tentatively finding a foothold, this article seems as relevant as ever.

Reader question: what is your aviation nightmare?

This reader question was prompted by the comments on a recent Air Facts article. As one said, “The intense, and deeply disturbing, nightmares you experienced regarding wire encounters are not uncommon among pilots.” So we want to know – have you had any aviation nightmares or anxieties? Is it the same issue every time?

Reader question: what’s your 2019 flying resolution?

2019 is just around the corner, and many pilots take the time to make a flying resolution for the new year. We’d like to hear from you – what’s your aviation goal for 2019? Do you want to fly more, add a rating, get current, check out in a new airplane, or maybe fly to Oshkosh? Add your comment below – and be sure to tell us how you plan to keep yourself honest.

The Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots

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.

Reader question: when did you know you had the aviation bug?

When asked about how they originally got interested in aviation, many pilots talk about a specific moment when “the aviation bug” bit. It might have been a first airplane ride, a trip on an airliner, or a visit to an airshow, but the result was the same – a lifelong passion for airplanes took hold. We want to know what that lightbulb moment was for you.