Air Facts Announces Winners of 2023 Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots

Harry Karmel of the UK wins first prize; Grace Eger of Michigan awarded second

Harry Karmel, a 22-year old university student and private pilot from the United Kingdom, is the winner of the fifth annual Richard L. Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots. His article, “Winning my first aerobatics competition,” was selected as the entry that best answered this year’s writing prompt: “my most memorable flight.” Harry’s article recounts his introduction to competition aerobatics, which came with less than 65 hours in his logbook.

After a morning lesson on how to fly the “Club Known” aerobatic sequence, Harry strapped into an Extra 330LX for the performance flight. He recounts each maneuver flown, and shares the combination of nerves and excitement that made the flight so memorable. The story has a happy ending too, as Harry took home first place. “As if this flight hadn’t been memorable enough, I’d just won my first ever aerobatics competition, my second flight in nine months!”

Air Facts Editor John Zimmerman awarded Harry the $5,000 prize to encourage his aviation and writing pursuits, and the winning article was published in Air Facts. Harry is currently a private pilot studying at the University of Leeds in the UK.

This year’s contest also offered a second prize, which was awarded to Grace Eger of Michigan for her article, “Young and Reckless.” She describes a multi-airplane camping trip to a remote island in Lake Michigan that went from fun to frightful when a storm rolled in. Grace was awarded $2,500 and her article was also published on Air Facts.

The Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots is funded through the royalties from Collins’s book sales and is augmented by contributions from his children, Richard, Jr. (who was also one of the judges), Sarah, and Charlotte.

Air Facts began publication in 1938, edited by Richard’s father, Leighton Collins, and was the magazine starting point for such authors as Wolfgang Langewiesche, Bob Buck, Bill Mauldin, and Richard Bach. Sporty’s relaunched Air Facts as an online magazine in 2011.

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