Richard Collins Celebrates 70 Years of Writing about Airplanes

First pilot report was in November 1947

The first article that Richard Collins wrote about an airplane appeared in the November 1947 issue of Air Facts. It is a pilot report about flying an Ercoupe (NC95464) out of Glens Falls, New York, accompanied by his father and Air Facts’ founder Leighton Collins.

The first issue of Reader’s Digest-size Air Facts was published in February 1938. Although its circulation never exceeded 20,000 subscribers, Air Facts was the magazine starting point for such authors as Richard Bach, Wolfgang Langewiesche, Bob Buck, and Bill Mauldin. Richard wrote for Air Facts until 1968 when he left the magazine to join the staff of FLYING.  Air Facts was relaunched online, sponsored by Sporty’s, in 2011.

The Ercoupe pilot report, written by 13-year old Richard Collins, is posted today at, along with comments by Richard. He says that he doesn’t remember if he was proud of the story when it first ran, but knows for sure that all his life he has had both printer’s ink and avgas flowing through his veins.

Richard has now written 1500 magazine articles, thirteen books as well as an extensive library of videos. He says, “I will just say that it has been a wonderful challenge, a whole lot of fun, and I managed to make a decent living along the way. I always felt like I had the best job in the world.”

“Although it’s unlikely, we hope there is someone out there to surpass Richard’s record,” said Air Facts’ Editor and Sporty’s Vice President John Zimmerman. “We think Richard’s 70 years will stand for a long time. Besides, Richard is still writing so each day his record gets harder to beat.” Richard says he would be proud to have someone surpass his tenure as an aviation writer.

Richard ends his 1947 article with the exuberance of a student pilot by declaring that, after a few landings coached by his father, “I made a perfect landing without him saying or doing a thing,” and concludes his article with, “That was the most jubilant feeling I ever had.”


Medium resolution pictures for online:

Richard Collins (1947)

Richard Collins

November 1947 issue of Air Facts