Like the Wright brothers’ first airplane at Kitty Hawk, time flies. This issue, our 150th, marks the completion of 25 years of publishing Aviation History (and its earlier incarnations, Aviation Heritage and Aviation). Given the rapidly changing landscape in the magazine publishing industry during the last quarter-century, that’s quite an accomplishment.
One thing that hasn’t changed in all those years of publisher buyouts, consolidations and reorganizations is our dedication to producing, as editor emeritus Arthur H. Sanfelici put it in our premiere issue, “a magazine that you will enjoy reading each issue,” one that is “both interesting and enlightening.” To that I would add “and dedicated to faithfully and accurately telling the stories of the brave men and women who made aviation history.” We owe them that.
In this issue, for example, you’ll read about Britain’s long-distance flight pioneer Sir Alan Cobham, who devoted his life to making the public more “air-minded”; about the courageous airmen who volunteered to fly P-61 Black Widows directly into thunderstorms in the late 1940s, collecting weather data that made the skies safer for all; and about the U.S. Marine Corps flight and ground crews who kept the venerable CH-46 Sea Knight transport helicopters flying for half a century. Then there’s the story of Captain John K. Rhoads, a photoreconnaissance pilot who earned a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross when he was shot down over North Korea just five hours before the armistice went into effect, as told by one of his fighter escorts that day.
Certainly aircraft and related hardware make up a big part of aviation history, but without the designers, mechanics and aircrews themselves, they would never get off the ground. Still, we know our readers enjoy a good airplane story, especially when it’s as deftly handled as Stephan Wilkinson’s “Black Widow’s Web.” Given his considerable talents and track record with us, it’s no surprise that contributing editor Wilkinson is our go-to guy for superbly written aircraft development pieces.
While our dedication to producing the best aviation history magazine possible remains the same, we haven’t been resting on our laurels. You’ll note several references in this issue to additional content on our iPad edition. Launched with our January 2015 issue, the iPad edition is far more than a straight replicant of our print issue in digital form; it’s a completely redesigned and enhanced version of the magazine. It allows readers to watch videos related to stories, take 360-degree virtual cockpit tours of the airplanes we feature and view photos (including additional images not featured in the magazine) at full-screen size. Current subscribers who have access to an iPad can add this digital edition to their existing subscription for just $3 (call 1-800-435-0715), and new subscribers can choose from print, iPad and print/iPad packages (see historynet.com for details).
Change is in the wind as we embark on our 26th year of publication as part of the new World History Group. But while we intend to keep pace with current publishing trends, as Art Sanfelici wrote in our first issue, all of us at Aviation History “pledge to you that we will do our best” to deliver a magazine that honors the people who made it all possible.