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Pilot Magazines

I've been getting Flying and the US AOPA mag.

They have been a much more interesting read than the UK mags, but both seem to have gone downhill lately. Flying lost Mac who was a great writer, and the AOPA mag seems to have very little in it too nowadays.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Yep. I cancelled both.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

Same here. With all this information available on the web (including this excellent forum, thanks Peter..) is there a future for printed aviation magazines? The news in it usually is 2 months old anyway.

Private field, Mallorca, Spain

That's very true about getting news, but I think they still have a place for interesting articles.

Even in today's "everything on the internet" climate, many people won't write stuff up unless they are getting paid for it. Most serious researchers subscribe to multiple paid-for literature databases because most free stuff online is just trash.

If one is going to pay for stuff, Aviation Consumer might be a good mag to get. I have seen the odd copy, though it seems to be mostly online nowadays. The writeups are sometimes very uncomplimentary; stuff I would never see in a printed mag that relies on advertising. But the "warts and all" approach is at least honest. There is a lot in aviation that does have major defects which are very hard to write about in an advertising-funded mag.

My son (16) likes reading about traditional aviation (taildraggers etc) so I still get the AOPA mag.

Another one was called something like Instrument Flying. I was given a few copies by a US pilot. It was only about 20 pages but very very good, though every attempt to contact the publishers regarding a cost to the UK met a dead end.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Forums will certainly challenge magazines in the times to come. We still have an era of readers who are only just getting used to the internet, and thus will find security in the trusted format of a magazine. As that generation fades away, that will change. Yes, there is a lot of garbage information on the internet, and the trustworthiness of information can be difficult to establish. However the coming generation of more skilled internet users will be more able to sift the wheat from the chaff.

The forums offer a near real time opportunity to make relevant (and totally irrelevant!) inquiries of the writer. I can read a post, or even a book (John Farley's "A view From The Hover") and actually make specific inquiries about what I have read. That is near impossible with magazines.

The opportunity for the provider of the information to tailor it to the context of the discussion, or answer a question is also much more effective on the forums than the paper.

Magazine contributors do come with some introduction, and presumed credibility, and build well on that with regular contributions. Forum contributors are much more difficult to "cred". But, with the consistency of a given forum member's contributions, I venture that their posts can be considered with credibility approaching a magazine article.

Personally, I don't buy magazines any more. A friend gives me his old AOPA and Sport Aviation, and I enjoy articles, but again, for the history. I take them for reading on long airline flights, and throw them away when I'm done. I am gifted one subscription (Flight Journal), which I enjoy, but for the history, not the news. I have seen its content dwindle in recent years, as the contributors of old fade away. The news I get from the internet, then validate it as I need.

Forums are a way of the future, particularly in the ability to rapidly search information. It does take some skill though to assign the correct credibility to what you read. PPRuNe was trail by fire for me, in my coming to realize that some posters had no idea what they are posting. I read a poster for months allowing more and more credibility to his/her posts, only to read that they just accomplished their first solo. Good for them, but forget most of what I had read from them! Some people can write well, far beyond their knowledge and experience base!

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

I think they started to go downhill already after 2000. First they lost Gordon Baxter in the nineties. Then they lost my favorite Len Morgan. Shortly after that, Thomas Block was force to quit as he retired as an airline captain.

I don't fancy any of the new ones except maybe Dick Karl. Don't know if he is still with the magazines but he wrote some entertaining articles about signing up for a Cessna Mustang without having sorted out the finances.

Of the remaining editors of Flying, Robert Goyer is my favorite. I stopped my subscription in 2003.

Was that the same Gordon Baxter who used to do Tomorrow's World?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

many people won't write stuff up unless they are getting paid for it.

that is true and people should be paid for long interesting articles

Forums are a way of the future

they have been there for a long time and I love them but I don't think they replace magazines. It is a great place for discussion between people sharing common interests.

I see a great future for digital publications on tablets or mobile phones. Apple and Google with their respective stores made it really easy to spend a few bucks on Apps or publications. "The magazine" link is setting a great example of the future of digital publications. 1.99$ a month, simple text layout, few images (not a 500mb download of giants PDFs like the new-yorker or other "old school" publications) and quality articles.

Print press is going to die out when speciality mags like flying and so on are concerned, certainly here in Europe. In the US, it is still a viable business case for now, but it will also change. We have seen this direction since quite a while, even decade old mags like Newsweek have given up print.

In aviation of course, the problem is even aggravated with the fact that less and less people fly. In a way, these mags have a lot of readers who are just people dreaming but never getting off the ground, and for those people mags like those we as active pilots like to read are not interesting, they like glossy mags such as the german big two, Fliegermagazin and Aerokurier, which are totally useless to the serious pilot outside the UL or basic PPL range.

I have also heard that people can get openly aggravated by reading US mags because it just tells us over and over again how restricted and strangulated Aviation is in Europe. Looking at the content of many of those mags, I agree, as 80% of new planes or gadgets shown in there are not usable and never will be useable in Europe. Somehow, it is just like a North Korean reading an US glossy mag....

I still subscribe to Aopa pilot but mainly for the fact that I am an Aopa member and want to see what the Americans do. But every time I do, I feel a sense of sadness for the way GA goes in Europe.

LSZH, Switzerland

I buy 2 of the well known UK magazines and duly download them on my iPad as soon as they come out. But I don't find much of interest in them anymore, though for the moment I wont stop purchasing them (especially because I bumped into Nick Bloom at Welshpool the other day and he took my photo, so I am interested to see if my ugly mug makes an appearance) :-)

Besides the large chunk of advertising (which is a necessary evil of a medium that has expensive production and staff overheads etc.), even the trip reports seem relatively bland and lacking in detail compared to the intense detail and the education I have seen in this Forum (both trip reports and ad-hoc posting) by a number of individuals. Even if Jason's shots don't work well because he has a pressurised cabin, you just get the sense they are more 'real', and that makes them more enjoyable.

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