How I came to be an ag pilot

Reader Dave Sandidge's uncle, Bernard Threet, was an ag pilot in the Mississippi Delta region for many years. After his uncle's recent death, Sandidge wanted to honor him by sharing the story of his memorable cross-country in a Piper Cub crop duster. And what a story it is.

Thanks for the landing

Former RAAF pilot John Laming remembers one of his first flight instructors, a unique and thoughtful man he would encounter many times throughout his career. Reconnecting after 40 years, the two pilots made a memorable final flight that shows the special bond two pilots share.

Top 10 articles of 2014

We're proud to release our annual review of the year that was at Air Facts. Among nearly 150 articles published in 2014, these were the 10 most popular. What were the hot topics in 2014?

The trip to Dong Den Mountain

Luxury hotels line the idyllic beach today. Forty-eight years ago, it was a bare sugar white expanse of sand and surf and the site of our crude Marine Corps helicopter base known as Marble Mountain Air Facility just east of Da Nang by the South China Sea. Our Marine CH-46 helicopter squadron had flown ashore ten days earlier.

Four Merlins to Momote

In this current era of over-regulation, it may seem, understandably to anyone reading this story now, that we were a bunch of over-enthusiastic young men with little sense of professional responsibility. But it was another time and things were different then. For this ancient airman, they were the good old days and I mourn their passing.

Profiling works in solving airplane problems–usually

Profiling is, in this discussion, a procedure to narrow down the possible causes of a problem based on its location in the airplane and timing in the order of events in a flight, and then with evaluation of the potential causes, select appropriate solutions to try. The case I'm going to describe occurred with the Cessna T-37 twin jet trainer.
Sextant in airplane

Navigating in the old days

Flying in my little single-engine Cessna, my yoke mounted GPS unit gives me my exact position anywhere on the face of the earth, as well as a host of other valuable information and is a marvel of modern technology. It wasn't always so. I was a crewman on a Navy land-based long-range patrol plane (P2V Neptune) back in the early 1960s and I'll tell you all what it was like.

Remembering Saint-Ex.

70 years ago, on July 31, 1944, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry took off on his last flight, from which he did not return. At 44, he was old for an operational pilot in World War II, and he was flying a fast, unarmed, photo-reconnaissance version of the single-seat Lockheed P38 Lightning fighter.

Getting past the ABCs

As businesslike and matter-of-fact as the radio alphabet seems, a closer look shows it is packed with history, romance, mythology, literature and the lure of faraway places.

Competition in a man’s sport: top six women in early US flight

The challenge of this article is to identify the six most significant women and their contributions to the art of flying as a sport and as a science in the early years. These women pilots were built of courage, conviction, passion and vision.
Richard Back

Richard Bach and Air Facts: long time ago…

In the summer of 1960 a 24-year old Air Force jet fighter pilot, Richard Bach, submitted an unsolicited article to Air Facts. It was the beginning of an incredible writing career. Here, Dick Collins tells Bach's story and we republish his very first Air Facts article.
Wright Flyer turning

Warp speed: birth of an aileron

Instead of shifting its weight to right itself, as every bird-watching, would-be aeronaut assumed their winged subjects did, the buzzards flexed one wingtip up and the opposite down. Could there be a more unlikely, less romantic bird to bestow the gift of flight upon humanity?

Top 10 articles of 2013

In 2013, Air Facts debated the big issues in aviation, offered tips for safer flying and shared some good pilot stories. If you missed any of the 160 articles we published this year, here's our list of the 10 most popular.

The first US Air Meet, 1910

Fans attended the first major International Air Meet at Reims, France, in August 1909, with close to 500,000 spectators. It set the standard for all future air shows of the time, and inspired a group of American aviators to stage their own Air Meet. Here is the story.

Crash of the B-23 Dragon Bomber

The afternoon I spent at the crash site of the B-23 “Dragon Bomber” was far different than what the eight crew men aboard the plane experienced when they went down on a routine training mission on January 29, 1943. As I sat in the shade of a pine by the lake next to one of the sheared off wings, I tried to imagine what they had gone through.

Connie flight from Paris to Cairo, 1951

From time to time, we revisit an original Air Facts article that we think would make enjoyable and worthwhile reading today. So it is with Bob Buck's “Flight to Cairo,” the legendary airline pilot's story of flying a TWA Constellation from Paris to Cairo in the days before jet engines and GPS.

Will the real Harold Neff please stand up?

Was Harold Neff a pioneering airmail pilot, a record-setting charter airline pilot, an Air Force Colonel or a regular general aviation pilot? As it turns out, all four. Here's the fascinating story, from a man who knew at least one of them.
DC-6, N6103C

Eggs to Caracas, Venezuela

Eggs. Who knew there would be a need to fly eggs from Florida to Venezuela? In this case, it was 28,800 pounds of eggs each flight, every night for weeks. Here is the story as it occurred in the summer of 1977.

The Cessna OE-2: a mishmash military model

In 1954, just after the cessation of hostilities in the Korean war, the Marines wanted an improved model of Cessna’s L-19 Army Liaison/Observation airplane. The Marines only wanted a few of these good airplanes, and they were willing to pay--quite a bit more--for them.

The day Lindbergh got lost

Back in 1968 I was the relief copilot on Pan Am’s Boeing 707 Rome to New York morning flight. I was doing pre-departure checks when the purser entered the cockpit with news that Charles Lindbergh would be traveling with us in first class.