On July 11, 2018, Tom Neil, one of only two living RAF aces from the Battle of Britain, died a few days short of his 98th birthday. He flew an astonishing 141 combat missions in the Battle. His very long career in the RAF (he did not retire until 1964) also included such things as the Battle of Malta, and intercepting jet-powered V-1 “buzz bombs” over Britain in 1944.
While my wife Joan and I were recently traveling in Europe we came across a surprise to us in Portugal that commemorated a flight across the South Atlantic from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1922. This was accomplished five years before Lindbergh.
Beech, as every successful company does, had ongoing efforts to design improved and replacement airplanes for the company line. In the late 1970s John Pike had his preliminary design group perform configuration studies on airplanes that could supersede Beech’s King Air 90 and 200 stalwart turboprops. The X700 seemed to be the best idea, but it was never made.
In this trip through the Air Facts archives, we stop in June, 1963, where Richard Collins reported on a new airport just east of Philadelphia with a unique community atmosphere. The airport is still around, but the idea never caught on. Why not?
Archie Trammell died in early February at age 89. Archie accomplished much over decades in aviation, including being a foremost expert on use of airborne weather radar. But I think his greatest contribution was making it possible to compare airplane performance, weight and price using a constant standard.
When one examines a failure of such monumental scale as the Beech Starship program, the inevitable question is, “Why did they do that?” As in almost every instance where things go badly wrong, it was a series of decisions made under shifting circumstances that led to the ultimate disaster.
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.”
Anniversaries of important events are times for remembering and other things good and bad, including reminding oneself of the dangers of misplaced trust and overconfidence. Forty-five years ago, October 16, 1972, two Congressmen on the campaign trail were lost somewhere in Alaska. They had trusted their pilot to get them from Anchorage to Juneau.
By the mid-1960s general aviation was booming, but airplanes and pilots were still regularly coming to grief in stall-spin accidents. Robert McCulloch sought to revitalize the autogyro concept for the mass GA market. Surely there must be demand for a stall-proof, slow-speed-capable flying machine that was both easier to fly and less complex than a helicopter.
This article should have been a joke. My goal was to write a satire piece that would make a mountain out of what I had anticipated was a mole hill. Unfortunately, it seems I’ve been beaten to the punch by none other than three state governments, a federal government, and some New Zealanders. I had naively believed that at most this first flight thing would be a minor kerfuffle. I was wrong. It’s a major kerfuffle.
Air Facts was founded in 1938, but we relaunched as an online magazine six years ago today. Since that time, over 300 pilots have shared their stories with us, and we have published over 900 posts in total. We sometimes get asked which articles have been the most popular, so we’ve compiled a list here of the 10 most-read article since our relaunch in 2011. Enjoy!
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.
Sometimes a simple phrase can sum up the essence of flying better than a chapter in a textbook. Here, experienced pilot Dan Littmann shares 16 of his favorite aviation quotes. From Wolfgang Langewiesche to Bob Hoover, well-known pilots share words that are funny but lessons that are serious. Read his list, then add your own.
There are a number of places in the world where, for one operational reason or another, the standard mold just doesn’t fit. The river visual approach to 18 at DCA comes to mind, as does the Expressway visual to 31 at LGA. But the approach most people are at least mildly familiar with is the famous Canarsie approach at JFK.
It was required that we do a project to evaluate dives and recoveries of the T-37 Air Force trainer, though I was not then, and am still not, sure how that was to be utilized in the training curriculum. We decided to do the two ingredients separately in programmed, and recorded, flight testing – dives at various angles, and pullouts at various g’s – and then recombine them in various combinations analytically.
We had 76 different pilots write for Air Facts over the past 12 months. Almost all of these were just regular pilots who had a story, tip or opinion to share, but they brought an incredibly diverse range of experiences and perspectives. In closing out the year, we thought readers might enjoy a look back at our top 10 most popular articles.
Not too long after the birth of aviation itself, a surging community was forming in Cuba. It was a community that dominated the tropical skies. And that congregated at airstrips scattered amongst the sugarcane and tobacco fields. Can it come back?
Airports are homes for planes. But of course they can be quite a bit more. My plane is based at Westchester County Airport (aka White Plains Airport). The airport was built in 1942 as a base for the Air National Guard, but is now one of the most active general aviation airports in the US.
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.
It is only through the lens of history that I have come to appreciate the unique opportunity afforded to me 40 years ago while attending the University of Cincinnati. Neil Armstrong was a member of the Aerospace Engineering faculty there from 1971 to 1979. I attended his classes.