Leighton H. Collins is best-known for his magazine, "Air
Facts", and some of his books, "How to get the Most
Out of Your ADF" (1954), "Air
Facts Reader 1939-1941" (1974), and "Takeoffs
and Landings" (1981). "Takeoffs and Landings",
with a 2005 reprinting, is a fundamental
text for pilots new and experienced.
Collins was born April 20, 1902 in
Greenville, TX. He received his Bachelor of Science degree
(with majors in physics and math) from the University of
the South (1920-23), and then attended Harvard Graduate School
of Business Administration (1923-24). He earned a bachelor
of law degree from the Arkansas Law School (1925-27).
He learned to fly in 1928 at Little Rock, AR. He first
entered aviation while in the insurance business, flying
his own airplane to serve his customers. The combination
of insurance and aviation led to an early interest in flight
safety. It was in the interest of air safety that he founded "Air
Facts" magazine in 1938.
He began his work career as
a Liability Insurance Company claim investigator on July
1, 1924. He
married Sarah Banks of Fordyce, AR on June 27, 1928. Between
then and 1938 he was field representative for the Aeronautical
Corporation of America based in Cincinnati, OH. He sold their
Aeronca aircraft from 6/1/33 to 9/1/34. From 9/1/34 to 6/1/35
he represented the Lambert Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis,
MO. He sold their Monocoupe aircraft. From 6/1/35 to 1/1/38
he was a flying school operator and aircraft dealer. In 1938
he went into publishing.
His magazine caught on, was widely popular, and it expanded
to include subjects of general interest to pilots. Under
his editorship, it became one of the most informative and
factual publications in its field. Air Facts was primarily
focused on helping pilots to understand the risks of flight,
and persuading them to fly more safely. Most issues were
between 75-85 pages, although in the 1970s they reached 98
Published between 1938 and May 1976, his magazine led
to public understanding and acceptance of general aviation
flying. He edited the magazine until 1973 when he retired
from full-time publishing. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta
fraternity, the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame, the OX-5
Club and of the Aviation Writers Association.
Collins landed at Tucson on July 17, 1930. Based in Little
Rock, AR, he was with his wife as passenger westbound from
Lordsburg, NM. Their destination was Los
were traveling in NC991K, a Cardinal aircraft. The image
below is of the same model. NC991K was a C2-90 model, with
the new LeBlond 7-D engine of 90HP at 1,975RPM. According
to Juptner (reference, left), the higher power engine was
aimed at the "sportier type of pilot."
The airplane's type certificate, #274, was issued on November
14, 1929. NC991K was S/N 115. Cardinals were thinly distributed
around the country, due mostly to the economic sag of late
1929 and an already entrenched competition. Nevertheless,
it was a decent cross-country machine of its era. It held
30 gallons of fuel and cruised at 100MPH. It also had internal
expanding brakes and the tail skid was placed far aft to
improve its three-point stance and ground handling.
Pilot Collins held commercial (certificate #7709), instrument,
multiengine, seaplane, helicopter and hot air balloon ratings.
He had accumulated 2,465 flight hours as of 1943. Over his
flying career he accumulated more than 12,000 flight hours.
Leighton Collins left us on January 16, 1995 at age 92 in
Hendersonville, NC after a full life of influence on
thousands of pilots.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 02/11/06 REVISED: 05/05/10