AF cover, 8-70

Wolfgang Langewiesche on pilot proficiency

We're diving into the Air Facts archives for another thought-provoking article from legendary pilot and author Wolfgang Langewiesche. In "A Ladder to Climb," which first appeared in the August 1970 edition of Air Facts, he argues that pilots need to step up their game and offers a suggestion for how they might do that—with a nod to the world of gliders. Might this be easier with modern technology?
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.
Spitfire

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.
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.
Cloud map

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.
Grass runway

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.
Pilot in cockpit with instructor

From the archives: how valuable are check rides?

In this trip through the Air Facts archives, we pause in 1967 for a thought-provoking article by Richard Collins. He explores the value of a check ride, and considers whether any evaluation can really improve safety over the long term. His comments on what an instrument rating can do are particularly insightful: "without really working at keeping it current, the instrument rating is worth about the value of the ink on the piece of paper."
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.
Reading Air Show

From the archives: the 1968 Reading Show

Before Oshkosh was the big show, the annual gathering in Reading, Pennsylvania, was the center of the aviation universe. In this article from the June 1968 edition of Air Facts, you'll see what general aviation looked like during the heyday of the late 1960s. From the new airplanes to the celebrity pilots, it was a thrilling time to be a pilot.
Radar scope 1968

From the archives: Richard Collins goes behind the scenes at Center

Aviation technology has changed rapidly over the years, and yet Air Traffic Control works much the same as it did during the booming 1960s. In this article from 51 years ago, Richard Collins goes behind the scenes at Washington Center to explore the technology at work, from flight plan routes to weather deviations. It's a fascinating time capsule.
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.

From the archives: Bob Buck on low approaches

This article, published 50 years ago in Air Facts, shows how the fundamentals of instrument flying remain constant. While the technology has changed dramatically since Bob Buck wrote these words, the practical lessons are as valid today as they were in 1969.
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.
Langewiesche by Cub

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.
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.