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.

Leighton Collins on flight training, 1944

Nearly 70 years ago, Air Facts editor Leighton Collins called out the need for a better flight training system. In particular, he lamented that "we have never had a flying system designed for the civilian." His comments are a surprisingly relevant contribution to today's debates about flight training.
F-104 fighter

Leading edge aeronautical research on the plains

You don’t think of leading edge aeronautical research being conducted in the General Aviation industry, especially in Wichita, Kansas. But Cessna did just that, in the early 1950s, and on its own planes. And not only was it successful, but it was incorporated in some famous long run production airplanes--unfortunately, not Cessna airplanes.

Pioneer aviator Foster Lane

Foster Lane was born in 1903, the year the Wright Brothers changed everything with their first powered flight. He started flying in 1925, getting his first ride in a barnstormer’s Curtiss JN4 Jenny. Lessons began and he bought his first airplane, a used Waco 9, in 1928. He literally lived the birth of aviation in the 1920s.
Dearborn airport

Fields of vision: carving hills into airports

When the Wright brothers finally had a flying machine that could take off and fly under complete control, they still had no place to fly it from. Phil Scott shares the fascinating history of how airports came to be, from grass fields to WPA airports in the 1930s.
Cessna's XT-37 jet

The production T-37 “Tweet” serves up an enduring mystery

In very early 1952, I was an undergraduate working part time in Cessna’s Flight Test, Aerodynamics and Preliminary Design Group when a request for proposal for the TX came in from the Air Force. The TX was to be the first, that is the primary, trainer in a series of three new trainers which would finish with the TZ, a supersonic one.
Jerrie Mock and the Spirit of Columbus

Geraldine Mock and the Spirit of Columbus

Ask the average person on the street, “Who was the first woman to fly around the world solo?” and you’ll likely hear, “Amelia Earhart.” Of course, they would be wrong. Ask that same question of a pilot and you’ll get a blank stare. That’s because most pilots know that someone must have done it, but they aren’t sure who.
The Cessna 310

Defining the Cessna 310

The author played a key role in designing and testing the ground-breaking Cessna 310. In this one-of-a-kind article, he shares some of the struggles that went on behind the scenes, including issues with stability and performance. He also shares his suspicions, untold for over 50 years, about a unsigned drawing he discovered.
C-54 approaching Templehof Airport

The chocolate bomber

They were ragged and starving, these kids who had gathered, amid the ruins, to watch airplanes bring food to Berlin. It was mid-July 1948. Twenty-seven-year-old Lt. Gail Halvorsen had been on the airlift for two weeks, flying an exhausting three round trips each day.
Wind tunnel test

Assessing necessity – wind tunnels at Cessna

Our Vice President of Engineering at Cessna during my time there in the Golden 1950s was sort of a contrary guy. He was absolutely sure that wind tunnel tests were a waste of time. But after heartfelt discussion, he reluctantly agreed to let us do it on the proposed Cessna 620.
Ford Tri-Motor

Two Ford Tri-motor flights – 75 years apart

In 1935 I was six years old, and we were living in Ponca City, Oklahoma. One day a Ford Tri-motor flew into our grass airfield and offered rides, at a price, to our “city’s” inhabitants. I was completely hooked on aviation from that moment on, and determined that I wanted to be part of it.