Convair in flight

Memories of flying the Convair 880

About everyone who flew the 880 fell in love with it because it was such a dream to hand fly. It did have a good autopilot and dual flight directors, and I think it was our first aircraft to receive approval for CAT II approaches. In my opinion it was the prettiest of the four engine jets.
B-17 crew in front of airplane

Flying a B-17 over Germany, April 1944

During World War II I flew B-17 bombers out of England, performing 30 missions bombing Germany. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was a very good four-engine plane and 12,000 of them were built. I was in the 547th squadron of the 384th Bomb Group…

From the archives: The Airphibian

This article first appeared in the January 1947 edition of Air Facts. As amazing as it might seem today, Leighton Collins believed back then that flying cars had arrived. He wrote in the headline to this article, "Put it down for keeps that a successful car-airplane is now an accomplished fact." Seventy five years later, flying cars are still in the headlines but not in any garages or hangars. Still, the description of the Airphibian offers a fascinating look at the post-war general aviation boom.

A history of aviation gasoline

The development of 100/130 avgas was initially a case of Catch-22. The engine manufacturers needed a fuel that could withstand the higher compression ratios and not detonate prematurely. At the same time, the fuel refiners needed a large enough customer base to afford to set up the refining capacity for high octane avgas. The aviation demands in WWII satisfied both requirements.
Khe Sanh takeoff

The siege of Khe Sanh

I felt sweat drip under my arms. I took a long, deep breath to settle my nerves without making it noticeable to my copilot and flight engineer. As we taxied toward number one position for takeoff, the sun was just starting to come up. It looked like a beautiful day was about to begin. We made our takeoff for Khe Sanh at 0730. On schedule.
Bob Hoover

How a local airshow thrives and dies

As any good story in aviation starts, the rise and fall of Airshow Chattanooga begins with Bob Hoover and a dare. At the turn of 1990, then 28-year-old Morty Lloyd found the legendary WWII pilot and airshow performer’s phone number. On a whim he called, asking if he and his buddies started an airshow in Chattanooga, Tennessee, would he perform.
Early flight sim

A personal progression through flight sims

Bruce Artwick, a computer graphics guy, along with marketing student and pilot, Stu Moment, formed a company named SubLogic to sell their home-grown computer games. With their program a person could fly a simulated aircraft over a five-square-mile grid of primitive wire-frame graphics. It was outstanding!

Runways, large and small

Runways have been marked out on beaches, deserts, mountains and on water. Many companies still operate out of impossible airstrips perched on mountain tops at high elevations, while others fly out of jungle airstrips in remote areas. These are often the only way in which people have access to the outside world, like in Alaska and Canada.
Harriet Quimby

Overlooked pioneers in women’s aviation

While observing Women’s History Month this month, the names of Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, and Bessie Colman come easily to mind, but the achievements of many less well-known women aviators are also worth celebrating. What follows is simply a place to start…
Stalag Luft IV

The story of a winged boot, and the men who wore it

We have a lot of memorabilia from both of our fathers, however, one unique item really grabbed our attention. It is a small patch featuring an embroidered boot with a single wing on it. Susan and I wondered what the significance of a winged boot was and why it was part of her father’s memorabilia. I searched the Internet and was stunned by what I learned.
Jetwing on ramp

From jars to jets: the forgotten story of the Jetwing

Backyard gardens enjoyed a good growing season hear in the Midwest, leaving us with an abundance of produce. What hasn’t been used already is being saved by drying, freezing or canning. There’s even a shortage of canning supplies at the local hardware store. That got me thinking about glass jars and outer space. Stay with me and I’ll explain.
Curtiss Falcon

Charles Lindbergh flies virus serum to Quebec

Whatever his personal flaws and shortcomings, there are some traits of Lindbergh’s that have never been questioned: he was a brave, distinguished, and incredibly capable aviator. These characteristics were on full display on April 24, 1928, when Lindbergh flew anti-virus pneumonia serum to Quebec City, Canada, in an attempt to save the life of his aviator friend, Floyd Bennett, who was desperately ill.
Mooney 201

The magical Mooney

Richard Collins often told me that the Mooney was a cult airplane. And he was right. While all pilots would brag about how fast their airplane was, and how much it could carry, and how fast it climbed, and how far it went on full tanks, Mooney owners focused on one thing. How fast they flew on so little fuel.

Editor’s choice: our top 10 articles from 2019

We published over 200 articles at Air Facts this year, including personal stories, tips for safer flying, and memorable pictures. Some of these were written by well-known authors like Mac McClellan, but most were written by everyday pilots. After reviewing all of them, we've selected ten must-read articles from 2019.
Pat Luebke at Oshkosh

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.
Frank Thomas

Five dollar Frank and the poor man’s flying school

“Five Dollar Frank” was his moniker, as he owned Thomas Flying Service and gave sightseeing tours of the area for $5. Each flight was a half hour, with his sister sitting beside the Esso gas pump next to the stone “terminal” waiting to gas up the plane upon arrival. Thousands flew with Frank over the years, and his name still brings a smile to those with history in the area.
F-117s at Holloman

Battling G forces at Holloman Air Force Base

There is another Air Force base not having the notoriety of Elgin or Nellis - Holloman AFB, in the southeastern corner of New Mexico. Along the way, it has served as weapons development establishment - about ninety miles south of the Trinity site where the first atom bomb was detonated, a test base for early versions of ballistic missiles, training for Air Force and Allied aircrews, a stateside station for German Air Force units, and an alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle.
Beech Lightning

What doomed the Beech Lightning?

Given its string of success in evolutionary model design it was natural for people at Beech to continue to look for more ways to evolve their airplanes in new directions. In the early 1980s somebody, or perhaps a small group of people, realized they had the basis for a very good single-engine turboprop.
Purvis helicopter

The forgotten story of the first helicopter patent ever issued

With the investors’ money, two 7-hp motors were obtained and mounted, and a flying demonstration was planned in the town square. What happened next has been the subject of considerable speculation, some more fanciful than others. All of it is unsubstantiated and has become part of the local folklore.
The crash site

Remembering a Christmas tragedy 50 years later

During the holiday season of 1968, in an isolated Pennsylvania community, Allegheny Airlines’ professionalism, safety culture and luck would abandon the airline to a sequence of events no fiction writer could invent. And the echo of those tragedies continues to resonate a half century later.