History

From the archives: Leighton Collins flies a Lear 24

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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.”

The disappearance of two Congressmen in Alaska

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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.

Whirlygig: the troubled life of the J-2 autogyro

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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.

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

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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

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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!

From the archives: Bob Buck gets a Boeing 707 check out

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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.

Stayin alive – 16 favorite aviation quotes

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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.

Visual or instrument approach? This one is both

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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.

How do you report something that’s physically impossible?

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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

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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.

Will the Cuban Skyway come to life once again?

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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

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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.

From the archives: Leighton Collins flies a 747 to Paris

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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.

From the archives: Leighton Collins on angle of attack, 1965

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This article, originally published in the May 1965 issue of Air Facts, is a companion to Richard Collins’s recent article on “The three keys to flying safely.” Here, Richard’s father considers the history of angle of attack as both a concept and an instrument, which offers important lessons for pilots of any airplane. This is not a new debate.

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

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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.

How I came to be an ag pilot

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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.