This issue marks my debut as editor-in-chief of Plane & Pilot, a magazine that I’ve been reading for most of my life. I’m thrilled to be here, humbled to be allowed the opportunity to help create the future of a title with so much history and so much promise.
Many of you know me already—I spent nearly 20 years at another aviation title—and know what inspires me. Not surprisingly, chief among those things that excite me are airplanes and, really, all things aviation. There aren’t many boundaries to my airborne interests. I love even the lightest and most accessible machines, Quicksilvers, Cubs and primary gliders, and I’m drawn to the power, speed and technological wonder of big jets and their near-supersonic splendor. I just love flight, the daring innovation, the fascinating history of it, the very real personal challenges of operating a demanding aircraft and doing it well, and I love the community of pilots of which I’m privileged to be a part.
So again, it should come as no shock to learn that I believe in the core mission of Plane & Pilot, which to put it in simplest terms is to connect with pilots very much like me—informing, entertaining and delighting them with inspiring and useful content. Writing, taking pictures and dreaming up story ideas is what I’ve been happily doing for just about my entire adult life. Please don’t tell my boss, but it’s never once felt like work.
Hold on to your hats—there will be big changes. Over the next few issues, we’ll be rolling out a number of new features and faces, and within a few, months we’ll launch a newly redesigned magazine, with an updated (and more responsive) website to follow soon after. There will be a great eNews product unlike any you’ve seen, and we’ll be partnering with some of the best and brightest digital creators to bring you new content and new kinds of content.
A Great Fit
As some of you already know, there have already been some fundamental changes at Plane & Pilot. Last summer, our longtime publisher Werner Publishing sold its magazine titles, including Plane & Pilot, to a company I had never heard of before then. It was a great match, it turned out. Madavor Media, I’ve discovered, is a young, agile and forward-thinking publishing house based in Braintree, Mass., just a few minutes south of Boston.
“Madavor” is an unusual sounding word, but I’ve learned the meaning, and it too is a perfect fit for what we’ll be doing at Plane & Pilot. “Madavor” denotes a form of passion that transforms the individual, a phenomenon that we pilots know by heart. It’s not hot air. Madavor and the energetic and innovative professionals who call it home is all about creating ways for letting active audiences, like us, connect with great content. In our case, that content will be inspiring and useful stories, and photography, beautiful video and hard-hitting opinion. Keep your eyes open for Plane & Pilot events in the not-too-distant future, and there are some channels I can’t even tell you about yet.
For us pilots, writers and pilot-photographers, this means a process that will unfold one story, one photograph, one illustration at a time. The secret is that there’s no secret here: It’s all about great content. And while it’s easy to say those words, delivering it isn’t that easy. We’ll let the end product speak for itself. You’ll see.
A Pilot, First and Foremost
Many of you know me and know my work, but for those who don’t, let me briefly introduce myself.
I’m at heart a pilot, a writer and a photographer. I’ve been doing all of these things, flying, writing stories and taking pictures, since I was a kid.
I don’t remember my first airplane ride, which would have been with my dad in a red-and-white Aeronca Champ over the Connecticut River valley from a bucolic little grass strip called Pilgrim Airport, nestled among the farm fields just off of Route 9 in the little town of Hatfield, Mass. I began flying with my dad long before I earned my certificate as a teenager, and along with my brothers and sisters, I helped restore a couple of great old airplanes, including a proud, bare-metal Cessna 195. It was in that airplane that I cut my teeth as a pilot still too young for the ticket, the cool art deco throw-over yoke flipped to my side, a pillow on the seat beneath me folded over, as we sailed over the white church steeples of historic New England towns.
I earned my Private Pilot’s Certificate in the desert of Southern California, flying with the ex-military instructors who worked at my family’s mom-and-pop FBO. By the time I went off to college, I was already working on my commercial and instrument ratings, which I continued to pursue while studying literature and science.
I’ve been working as an aviation journalist for many years now, getting my start in the early ’90s working with my dad on a series of small titles devoted to sport flying and general aviation. A few years later, I found myself at Flying magazine, at the time the most respected aviation journal in the world. I learned about writing and about flying from some true luminaries of aviation, including Richard Collins, who almost single-handedly invented modern aviation journalism, the brilliant writer and jet pilot Mac McClellan, and Russ Munson, whose photographs I study to this day. These were people, like me, who lived and breathed airplanes and who, most importantly, had a wealth of experience flying.
Over the years there, I’ve gained quite a bit of experience myself. Today, I’m a commercial pilot with a few thousand hours of total time. I’m type rated in the Cessna C-525 CitationJet (with some cool new ratings already scheduled for 2016). I love jets and turboprops, but if I had to name my favorite aircraft, it might be something a great deal lower and slower than any Citation. The Air Cam is in the top five for sure. But I love them all, and I’ve had the unbelievable privilege of getting to fly a lot of different kinds of airplanes, hundreds in fact, from single-seat ultralights to the Gulfstream G650 intercontinental jet, and just about everything in between. For the past 20 years, I’ve flown extensively, on average a couple of hundred hours a year, for personal and business travel, and I was lucky to have done much of that flying in some of the latest single-engine speedsters, from the Mooney Acclaim to the Cessna TTx.
As much as I love flying fast airplanes in the system, I’m drawn to a simpler and more rugged kind of flying again and again. I’m looking at airplanes right now, and I find myself hovering over the ads not for Cirrus SR22s, but for Super Cubs, Huskies and old Cessna 180s. Definitely not platforms designed for cruising along at 15,000 feet!
Like you, I’m a part of a larger community of pilots, and I’m hoping that Plane & Pilot will play an increasingly large role in that community, helping provide a virtual forum to give voice to our thoughts and hear those of our fellow aviators.
As we mark the occasion of our 50th anniversary in print, we also celebrate a number of changes to the magazine, most of which you will see rolled out over the next several issues.
There will be new faces, new voices and new ways of giving you what you want. Some of these changes will come soon, and some are yet to be invented. We’ll tweet, post on Facebook and add Instagram pics of cool planes and gadgets and experiences. And don’t forget to share your pics with us!
As much fun as flying is, the regulation of aviation is a serious matter, and our voices need to be heard. Starting today, Plane & Pilot will have a strong voice in the industry. We’ll weigh in on the big issues of our day, from medical certification to users fees, and we’ll strongly encourage legislators and the leaders of our membership organization to strongly advocate for pilots like us who fly airplanes for recreation, transportation and business.
As I said, I couldn’t be happier to be here at Plane & Pilot. I look forward to hearing from you with your story ideas, your likes and your gripes. Email us anytime at [email protected], and I promise we’ll get back to you.
For all of us here, Job One is to give our readers what they want. In this case, that’s clearly spelled out in the title. Plane & Pilot is just what it says, a magazine about “planes” written by and for “pilots.” No exaggeration: We intend to be the best title in the world at doing just that.