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Richard L. Collins remembered

Editor's note: This article was updated May 3 with additional information.

Aviation writer, publisher, and safety advocate Richard L. Collins died on April 29 at age 84. Collins earned his pilot certificate in 1952, then began his long writing career in 1958 when he began writing for Air Facts magazine, a popular small-format aviation magazine published by his father, Leighton Collins. In 1968 he became a feature writer for Flying magazine, eventually rising to become that magazine’s editor in chief from 1977 to 1988.

Photo of the late Richard Collins, courtesy of John Zimmerman.

In 1988 he moved to AOPA Pilot magazine and served as publisher and editor in chief and transformed the magazine into an all-four-color, perfect-bound product. After serving as a contributing editor he returned to Flying in 1993 as editor at large. In 2012 he began Air Facts Journal as an online magazine produced by Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

Throughout his magazine career Collins wrote 12 popular books, many of them concentrating on instrument flight, aviation weather, and accident profiles. He served as an expert witness in several legal cases involving aviation accidents, owned many general aviation airplanes over the years, and amassed more than 20,000 flying hours.

AOPA Senior Vice President of Media and Outreach Tom Haines said of Collins, “His leadership started us on an ascension that within in a decade had AOPA Pilot overtake the circulation of other traditional, leading general aviation-oriented magazines, a position it continues to hold today. I am grateful for his leadership, the many lessons he taught me when he allowed me to fly his revered Cessna P210, and his friendship. He was an icon in general aviation publishing and a safety advocate unlike any we've ever seen. He will be missed.”

Although many aviators have contacted AOPA to pay their respects in person, there will not be a public service.

Thomas A. Horne
Thomas A. Horne
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
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