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.
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.
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.