Tom Neil, One of Two Living WWII RAF Aces, Flies West

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.  
Fairey airplane

Everyone wanted to be the first to fly across the pond

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 X700: The Starship that could have been

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.
Archie Trammell

Archie Trammell, the man who set airplane standards

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.
Beech Starship

Why the Starship was such a disaster

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.

The disappearance of two Congressmen in Alaska

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.
Autogyro on ramp

Whirlygig: the troubled life of the J-2 autogyro

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.
Wright monument

Planes, puns, and politics – who has a right to the Wrights?

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.

Top 10 articles of all time on Air Facts

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!

Stayin alive – 16 favorite aviation quotes

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.
Short final at JFK

Visual or instrument approach? This one is both

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.
T-37 in flight

How do you report something that’s physically impossible?

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.

Top 10 articles of 2015 at Air Facts

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.
Cuba map

Will the Cuban Skyway come to life once again?

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?

HPN: a bird’s eye view, past and present

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.

Professor Armstrong – learning from an airplane geek and astronaut

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.

Cessna during the glory days – a test pilot’s daughter remembers

In honor of Father’s Day, Mary LeSueur shares her memories of accompanying her father, a Cessna test pilot, to work. She shares the thrills and delights for a young girl witnessing the action in the Cessna hangars and runway, and the life-long lessons she learned.

The Cessna Fanjet 310 – a half century ahead of its time, sort of…

A Cessna 310 with fanjet engines mounted over the wings?! The improbable design was actually considered in the early 1950s, and one of the designers who worked on the project shares his memories. While the airplane never flew, there are echoes of it in the new HondaJet.

The low wing Cessna 170 – a great idea that didn’t fly

The three views, of the airplane described by the article title, that accompany this piece were taken from an “unofficial” board size drawing I knew I had stowed away somewhere around the house, but only recently found and reclaimed. The drawing is entitled “Preliminary Design, Model 170 Replacement” and dated February 2, 1955.

Playing politics at 27,000 feet – a story from the South Pacific

In the corridors of power many aviation decisions are made that do not normally affect those of us on the flight deck responsible for a successful flight. But sometimes they do. Such was the case of the Rarotongan Voters Project, where two separate governments intervened mid-flight.