Award-winning Aviation Author/Journalist/Pilot, Richard Collins, Dies

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Famed Aviation Journalist Richard Collins Dies at 85

Journalist wrote about Aviation based on 20,000 hours of flight

Authored 14 books and many articles

Aviation can be an avocation, but to fly safely, it requires the intense study and discipline of a most demanding vocation. Imparting the level of knowledge, that a general aviator needs to know, requires incredible comprehension of a number of highly technical subjects:

  • aerodynamics,
  • meteorology,
  • navigation,
  • avionics,
  • ATC (particularly the language and limitations of this function)


Without command of all of these discipline and their interconnectedness, an author of a book for a GA pilot is doing his/her readers a disservice.






He wrote

  1. Flying IFR
  2. Flying the Weather Map
  3. Flight Level Flying
  4. Instrument flying refresher
  5. Air Crashes
  6. Mastering the Systems: Air Traffic Control and Weather
  7. The Perfect Flight
  8. Tips to Fly by
  9. Thunderstorms and Airplanes
  10. Flying Safely
  11. Pilot Upgrade: How to Stay Current in Safety coauthor
  12. Logbooks — Life in Aviation
  13. The Next Hour
  14. Confident Flying, co-author

All of that collection is likely found in the bookshelves of serious aviators.


At the age of 19 Collins earned his private pilot certificate in 1952. In what must be a several volumes of his logbooks, he recorded over 20,000 hours primarily in Cessna 172s and P210s. His favorite was the Cessna P210 N40RC. After serving in the U.S. Army from 1955-1957, he became chief pilot of Little Rock-based Ben M. Hogan Co., which was one of the largest highway construction companies in Arkansas at that time.

In 1958, Dick went to work for his Dad, Leighton, at Air Facts magazine, which was founded by the father as a platform for GA safety information. Ten years later, Collins  began writing for  Flying magazine; by 1977, his expertise resulted in his being elevated to the position of Editor in Chief.

The ultimate GA association, AOPA hired Dick to be the Publisher and Editor of  AOPA Pilot (1988). In 1993 he returned to Flying brought him back as an editor at large, where he wrote a signature monthly column plus contributing occasional articles, usually evaluating the hottest new GA plane. In October 2008 Collins retired as a regular contributor to Flying magazine.

Though he retired from that post, he could not give up sharing his insightful analyses; so, he continued contributing to Air Facts Journal.

Dick was predeceased by his wife, Ann Slocomb Collins, “Gone West on 3/26/2013, the saddest day of my life.” Dick wrote a beautiful eulogy, The perfect copilot–of many years; here is a touching excerpt:

I took Ann for her first ever airplane ride on May 30, 1956, in my Piper Pacer. I had been flying for five years then. 
A couple of years later we got married and she had really signed on. I took her for her final airplane ride on August 19, 

They had 3 children–Charlotte, Sarah and Richard “all three flew with us before they were a month old.”


Among many tributes


The Air Facts Journal, founded by his Dad (pictured), published a link to his articles in that bible for GA pilots. Dick’s last contribution was published 38 days before his passing.



  • “The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today marked the passing of Richard L. “Dick” Collins, a leading aviation journalist and lifelong safety advocate, who died at his home in Maryland on April 29. He was 85.

In 2000, NBAA recognized Collins with the association’s Platinum Wing Award for lifetime achievement in the field of aviation journalism. His writing career spanned 60 years and he produced more than 1,000 magazine articles and more than a dozen books about single-pilot flying technique, weather avoidance and instrument flying.

“The general aviation community has lost one of its greatest safety champions,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “By writing about the experience he gained through approximately 20,000 hours of flying, much of it in his famous Cessna P210, Dick Collins shared his knowledge with thousands of fellow light plane pilots, thus making our industry safer. Dick’s life and body of work reflect the journalistic excellence and integrity, combined with a deep love and passion for aviation, that made his writing special. Much of his advice is timeless and will continue to benefit aviators for years to come.”


“Besides the NBAA Platinum Wing Award, Collins received numerous other accolades. In 1965 he received the Flight Safety Foundation’s Sherman Fairchild Award. In 1978, he won the Earl D. Osborn award from the Aviation and Space Writers Association, and he was named to Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1988. Collins also was an honorary member of the Flying Physicians Association, Lawyer Pilots Bar Association and Civil Aeromed Association.”

·       Aviation Journalist Richard Collins, Dead At 84

…More to come


More than likely Dick’s logbook for Cessna P210 N40RC last flight has the coordinates of heaven entered–








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7 Comments on "Award-winning Aviation Author/Journalist/Pilot, Richard Collins, Dies"

  1. Sandy Murdock | May 1, 2018 at 9:12 am | Reply

    AOPA adds its condolences–

  2. Sandy Murdock | May 1, 2018 at 9:17 am | Reply

    From Flying Magazine–

  3. A good guy. He came to a few ATCA Conventions, always a pleasure to talk to and a valuable contributer to the Panels.

  4. I flew with Richard Collins, in 1968, from his NJ airport to Campaign, Illinois. I was an aviation student at the University of Illinois. He was the Flying Magazine Editor. It was a big deal for a college sophomore! I remember that he treated me as a fellow pilot/crew member. He was a gentleman/aviator/writer extraordinaire. RIP Mr. Collins.

  5. Sandy Murdock | May 2, 2018 at 9:10 pm | Reply

    Air Facts Journal’s obituary for their 2nd generation Collins–

  6. Sandy Murdock | May 6, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Reply

    Remembering Richard Collins
    As you may know by now, Richard L. Collins, Air Facts Editor Emeritus, passed away one week ago at his home in Maryland. He was 84. Dick wrote thousands of articles in his career, including many for Air Facts over the last seven years, plus dozens of books and videos. He was an inspiration to so many pilots, and a good friend. It was the highlight of my career to work with him for the past 10 years.

    One of the things that Dick loved the most about Air Facts was the participation of readers. To him, Air Facts was at its best when regular pilots were sharing their stories, whether in comments or in articles. In this special edition, we’re proud to present seven articles that pay tribute to Dick, written by former colleagues. I hope you’ll find it a fitting tribute to a legendary aviator, and I hope you’ll add your own memories in the comments section.

    As Dick would say, “safe flying – and lots of it.”

    John Zimmerman

  7. What a man! If we all could be better pilots, from your expertise. Thks Mr. Collins.

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