Richard L. Collins died April 29 at his home. He was 84. Collins was a giant and an innovator in aviation journalism, starting with working for another such legend, his father Leighton Collins, founding editor of Air Facts magazine.
In his last blog post on the current online version of Air Facts, Collins wrote that he earned his flight instructor rating in 1953. But for 60 years, he did his most effective instruction behind a keyboard, transposing his more than 20,000 hours of flying experience into words and stories for pilots from teenage students to grizzled, old-school pros. He also launched the aviation journalism careers of a small army of writers, including this one.
Most of the hours represented in his logbook were powered by avgas, as Collins plied the skies of this country in a series of piston singles—culminating in his signature Cessna P210 N40RC. His writing on flying IFR in light singles guided and counseled generations of pilots with a folksy, anecdotal style that delivered his message with words that stuck. And he wasn’t shy about voicing unpleasant opinions.
Collins served as editor-in-chief at Flying magazine, AOPA Pilot magazine, and later editor-at-large for Flying. In his later years, he came full circle to writing online for Air Facts Journal. Perhaps his best was this account of losing his wife, Ann, five years ago. His last blog appeared on March 22.