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.

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?