Aviation magazines English vs. French

Pasoleati

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Over the last 2 weeks or so I have browsed through a stack of Aeroplane Monthlies (via library; volumes 1985 - 1990, 2001 - 2007). The deline of the magazine clearly began in the 2000s and based on what I have been able to check at newstand this year, the downhill has continued. Not only has the design became repulsive, the contents have become more and more shallow and warbird- and museum-oriented. An example of the shallowness is that whenever they need a pilot report on German aircraft, they repeat Eric Brown for the umpteenth time. Alternatively they interview some f*cking warbird pilot (who hasn't probable even spun the aircraft), whose opinions as to what an aircraft was to fly in historical combat are worthless. I once asked Eric Brown himself as to how did he evaluate the famous and often-quoted SETP fighter evaluation conducted using warbirds. His response was that as an evaluation of these aircraft's true combat flight characteristics it is worthless.

The same seems to apply to all English language commercial aviation magazines. I don't get why. After all, Aeroplane Monthly was excellent up to around 2000, and there was Air Enthisuast, very good almost to the end. There is the newish The Aviation Historian, but even it succumbs to very British-centric and photo-heavy content. In its prime Air Enthusiast's balance between text and illustrations was something like 70 % text, 30 % pics. In The Aviation Historian the balance is reversed. A trend most disgusting.

I do not know how's the scene in Germany, but a quick look at what is available in French makes non-French speaking enthusiast bow his head in disbelief.

To put things into perspective, the Finnish aviation historical journal Suomen ilmailuhistoriallinen lehti has 4 annual issues each with 24 pages in black-and-white only and an annual cost of 29,50 euros has more good quality reading in one issue than the current Aeroplane in a whole year. And with a layout that doesn't make one puke all over.

So the question is WTF is wrong with British mgazine publishers?!
 

CJGibson

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What do you think of Aeromilitaria?

Chris
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Aeromilitaria is a serious and worthwhile magazine but not exactly one you can pick up in WH Smiths.
 

Schneiderman

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The problem is the obvious one that magazine publishers are aiming to maximise sales and hence have to provide a broad spread of articles to appeal to multiple markets, thats just business. It is therefore inevitable that for some readers many of the articles will be of limited interest. For example just reading your post makes it clear that the overlap between your areas of interest and mine are going to be very small, no magazine could expect to satisfy both of us. So it goes.
Where I do agree with you is regarding the decline in Aeroplane, the presentation is indeed poor, to my taste, but I would not go to the extreme of your description. I would not criticise the ratio of text to images so much as the shallowness of the articles. Some are less informative than Wikipedia. With the advent of The Aviation Historian it looked at first if they had responded by upping their game, but that was shortlived (from my perspective at least). To me The Aviation Historian serves to fill a void in English language magazines left by the loss of Air Enthusiast and the shift in style of Aeroplane, whether it can continue to do so remains to be seen. Once again it depends on what the readership, which will be mainly UK-based, want and how that impacts sales.
I have seen little in non-English language magazines to suggest that they are in any way superior.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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I think La Fana de L'Aviation is pretty good, it runs some articles I like as the editor has a penchant for prototypes and unbuilt stuff from time to time and the articles seem well researched and illustrated (at least to my mediocre French reading skills). The Aviation Historian is in a different league, reminiscent of Air Enthusiast, however it rarely covers subjects I am interested in. I can still appreciate the workmanship.
 

Pasoleati

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CJGibson said:
What do you think of Aeromilitaria?

Chris

Unfortunately I have not seen any. I just checked Air-Britain's site. It could be interesting. However, that depends on what is the emphasis if the articles, i.e. are they fixated to serial numbers like so many Air-Britain books do with very limited info on engineering, testing, performance and handling of the types covered.

Now, I just browsed my archives containing photocopies of some key articles. For example, in 1999 Air Enthusiast had a 22-page article on the Mosquito in Israeli service by Shlomo Aloni. At elast 70 % of the pages were devoted to textual information. Question: which current British avmag would today publish the same article in the same format (no pretty colour pictures)?

As for the French magazines not being in any way superior as suggested by Schneiderman, e.g. the latest issue (81) of Batailles Aeriennes has 96 pages entirely devoted to air combat in 1917. Again, which British commercially published magazine offers this? None.

Schneidermann, what are your interests? I presume you are the author of a book on Schneider Trophy racers, a topic of great interest to me. You wrote that "magazine publishers are aiming to maximise sales and hence have to provide a broad spread of articles to appeal to multiple markets". The question is that is the reader profile so different in the U. K. compared to e.g. France that such major difference in style is explained? Or, is the reader profile of today so much different from that of the 1980s or even 1990s. I am 44 and count myself a relatively young traditional aircraft enthusiast (by traditional I mean other than PC simulator folks). The way I see it is that once the youthful shallow interests pass, an appreciation of deeper knowledge becomes more interesting. For example, when I was 15 I loved books with pretty colour pictures and minimal text (one reason being that I could not read English well then). Today the situation is much different. So, from my perspective, the attempts to lure younger people by fancy designs and shallow coverage is short-sighted as this crowd prefers to get everything free on the net anyway.

As for my interests, as far as aviation is concerned, is pre-1945 aviation, real engines and real aircraft, not systems platforms (I consider the jet engine and the radar as the two main inventions that killed the spirit of adventure and freedom in aviation). I am more interested in the internals than externals of aircraft. I prefer a spinning test analysis to paint schemes or serial numbers. I prefer a cutaway drawing to a colour profile. And I am no great fan of prototypes and projects. Nothing against them per se, but I feel that massive resources spent on researching those is research not available for really thorough research on actually important aircraft. E.g. the He 162 is far more thoroughly covered in English than e.g. the FW 189, Ju 87, Hs 129.

And my favourite German aircraft monograph is this and I wish someone published an English edition: https://www.amazon.de/Luftfahrt-Dokumente-Band-ARADO-erste-Strahlbomber/dp/3880882118/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500717446&sr=1-1 Though it is on a jet, it is nevertheless an exemplary work with piles of reproduced original documents like design memos.
 

Schneiderman

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PaulMM (Overscan) said:
.......... however it rarely covers subjects I am interested in.
I would think that Nick and Mick would be a little alarmed to hear you say that as you are more than likely representative of many of their target readership, albeit considerably more knowledgeable than most. Perhaps you would consider submitting an article to them, which may serve to trigger others with similar interests to do likewise. You era of interest is a little too recent for me, in general, but new insight is always worth a read.
 

Hood

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I actually think Aeroplane has improved enormously since Key Publishing took it over a couple of years ago (contrary to what I was expecting). The text to picture ratio has improved from what it was and they genuinely try to find a nice mix of informative articles and they do have an international flavour of authors. The in-depth aircraft features can be very useful, it depends on the author as to the quality but they tend to be fairly good. I don't think I've brought a copy in the last year or so and thought "there's nothing of interest here," and their archive of images deserve to be shown I feel. Flypast has gotten too shallow and too swallowed up by 'arty' effects and far too many photos.

I used to be an avid reader of Air International a decade ago, but now its just a glorified poster book devoid of detail. Flight has degenerated into a business round-up and to be honest if you keep up to date on Flightglobal there is little point buying it (though Uncle Roger's Christmas Quiz is good!). I still miss Air Enthusiast, alas I only really started buying in shortly before it closed but at least I still have the last six issues. There was a short-lived magazine Wingspan International which seemed promising around 2002 but it soon died.

There are a couple of non-Key Publishing magazines that are ok, one military (Combat Aircraft) and one a mixture of civil, military and heritage (Aviation News), but again if you want walls of text you're probably out of luck.

Air Britain is a mixed bag, Aeromilitaria is very good, Aviation World has items of interest but again tends to be stuffed full of holiday snaps and in trying to appeal to everyone tends to satisfy no-one and Archive for historic civil aviation buffs tends to be long lists of registrations with few articles and terrible layout.

Have you tried Cross & Cockade? I haven't personally but I believe its pretty good for WW1 research and topics.
 

CJGibson

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'...are they fixated to serial numbers like so many Air-Britain books...'

Not with me as editor!

Last issue had an article on Finnish Hawk 75s. I like to include at least one 'long read' (a la The Grauniad) of about 10-12 pages, recently Greg Baughen on the battleplanes of WW1 or Vic Flintham on the beginning of the RAF in 1918. I've been covering the Post-1950 specifications and Tony Buttler is a regular contributor, most recently on engine testbeds. Our very own Hood has contributed to it on transports and one recent article that has prompted quite a bit of interest is the VIP Dakotas used by the British top brass in WW2.

If you had your fill of endless articles of 1500 words and 10 pics on warbirds/F-35/Typhoon/A350/Dreamliner, I'd say The Aviation Historian and Aeromiltaria would suit you better (unless you dislike the layout)

As I always say, what's the point of moaning if you won't do anything about it? As Schneiderman says, write something, submit it and see if they'll run it. I'll have a look at just about anything that isn't about F-35/Typhoon/A350/Dreamliner.

Chris
 

Pasoleati

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Hood: I have seen Cross & Cockade and indeed it is very good. Though I have not yet subscribed to it. I totally agree on Air International and Flight. I regularly bought the former when e.g. Roy Braybrook was still writing columns.

Chris: is there anywhere sample pages of Aeromilitaria available? What is the page count?
 

CJGibson

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Here:

http://www.air-britain.com/aeromil.html

As ever, they don't update the website very often. Ignore the spiel at the side, there's a new sheriff in town.

Chris
 

Pasoleati

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Chris, thanks!

What I would like to see in English would be something as follows:

-quarterly A4, 96 pages on glossy paper, preferably staple-bound
-emphasis on pre-1945 (max. 30 % post-1945)
-majority of the pages reserved for an average of 5 long feature articles
-feature articles based on primary research meeting academic standards (reference notes)
-a regular section (10ish pages) reserved to original verbatim documents like test reports and design memos
-emphasis on aircraft development, testing, production, engineering
-combat histories should be analitycal, not chronicles
-max. 6 - 7 pages ads
-detailed structural drawings and performance curves
-main text Adobe Jenson Pro 10 pt, 3 columns, fully justified, ref. notes at the bottom on each page/spread
-feature article headlines e.g. "Hs 129 handling and performance analysis", "Hawker Typhoon structural failures - history and analysis", "Nakajima Homare - development, engineering and field experience", "Hughes XF-11 - Development, Testing, Handling, Performance", "F4U Corsair spinning testing".

I would happily pay 15 euros, even 20, for each issue.
 

Hood

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That's a hefty wish list, how many authors know enough about topics like "Hs 129 handling and performance analysis", "Hawker Typhoon structural failures - history and analysis" etc.?
You are probably looking more at engineering than history here unless an historian has access to lots of flight test data from archival sources. Its not impossible such articles exist in old copies of Aeroplane and Flight, but of course only the latter have been digitised.

Aeroplane were running a monthly subscription-only of selected reprinted old issues, not sure if that's still going though.
 

Schneiderman

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Do you really think there are sufficient potential authors out there, who have carried out extensive in-depth research to academic standards, to populate a magazine on a regular basis? Those that do work at that level, including several who conribute on this forum, have often found the material better suited to monographs and books, and I would agree with that strategy. I welcome the occasional magazine articles that do get submitted and published as they are generally well-written and informative, but it is a fine line before such material strays into niche territory and ends up just as numbing as the endless registration lists and individual aircraft histories that dulled so many Air Britain publications, although I have to say I don't believe I have read any of the more recent editions produced under Chris' tenure (I generally check out the index of contents and buy any that appear interesting secondhand from ebay sellers). At one point I held discussions about having a book published by AB, but their insistence that it had to include reg/history stuff provided by them put me off.
 

Pasoleati

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Hood: What I have heard of e.g. what material is in Finnish archives, there is vast amount of untapped technical stuff out there. Simply untapped because modellers want colour schemes. Or look at Daniel Whitney's Allison book as example what deep archival digging makes possible.

Schneiderman: Yes I am. Over the years I have read complaints by several authors who have not found a publisher for their work because it is too detailed. And doing it to academic standards isn't that hard. Even I have written a 60-page thesis for my UAS degree with some 200 reference notes (on taxation). And it passed.

And I forgot to list that not every article needs to be technical. I would be most happy with articles like "Erich Rudorffer - his victory claims analyzed", "April 5 - British Cruisers vs. IJN dive bombers - operational analysis" or "Kursk air operations - an operative analysis".
 

Michel Van

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my biggest problem in this case:

Were to hell i find a magazines store that offer englisch and French Aviation magazines ?!
the International press Store in German railway stations offer only two to me
US "Flight International" and German "FlugRevue"

finally i found solution to that problem: THIS FORUM ;D
 

Schneiderman

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Of course writing to that standard is not hard, but that is not the argument. What you are expecting is around twenty such articles published each year, which means to ensure a reasonable spread of subject matter and to allow for material rejected for some reason you need perhaps thirty to forty submissions. Publishers turn down submissions for many reasons and 'too detailed' is surely going to be one of them. That, perhaps, should be taken as an indication that the subject matter of the article has become too narrow and a rewrite would be in order.
 

Schneiderman

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To the publisher and their knowledge of their readership, obviously.
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Its simply economics. Why do you think Air Enthusiast closed down? It was too expensive to produce and not enough people bought it.

How many copies do you think you will sell of your proposed magazine? How much will you pay the authors for their research time in doing such work? Its going to cost a lot more that getting some photos of Typhoons off BAE Systems and writing captions for them.
 

Schneiderman

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There are other avenues to explore for those unable to find a publisher prepared to include technical articles in their magazines, although I still believe that with careful consideration of the broader readership when writing it will still be possible in some cases.
As Paul says payment for articles is unlikely to come close to covering the authors costs if that includes research in archives, with all the attendant travel, copying costs etc. That is without even considering the time involved, so authors will have to do the work much more for love than money. That may put some off.
However if a dedicated author, not seeking payment, cannot get a publisher interested then there are other avenues available online. For example the Journal of Aeronautical History at the RAeS. They invite submissions which will be subject to peer review and published online if accepted. There are probably other similar sites out there. Of course there is nothing to prevent anyone writing an article and placing that online themselves, putting a brief abstract plus a link to where it can be downloaded on forums such as this one will attract a readership. The content, style and layout is then completely under your control.
Maybe you could start with an adapted version of your thesis.
 

Pasoleati

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Air Enthusiast made the mistake of going to bimonthly.

No payment for authors. E.g. Suomen ilmailuhistoriallinen lehti does not pay for its authors. Neither does the leading academic and peer-reviewed history journal (Historiallinen aikakauskirja) here. The best military and aviation history has always been written by authors who do not do it for money. Think about the best warship book ever (Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War by Lacroix & Wells), an impossible undertaking for any author pursuing money. I.e. the intention of that magazine would be to generate money only to sustain it, not make anyone rich.
 

Hood

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To add to the list of difficulties, how many authors/historians/researchers are qualified to make operational and technical analyses?
You are either left with simply copying the archival conclusions and publishing those or crunching all the data yourself and making "armchair" analysis using hindsight. If its an unknown author then you have to take their conclusions with some pinches of salt. I'd value the experiences of an ex-veteran pilot or a retired engineer more than just what's in the graphs and the author making judgements about how effective Fighter X was over Fighter Y.

I agree though we do need a wider mix than we currently have, I like a good technical read too but sometimes a book is the best place for that. BAE System's recent book on EAP was very technical and detailed, but at times it did feel like reading a PhD thesis.
 

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PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Its simply economics.

Indeed ! On the German market, it's not that much different. The FlugRevue once was a quite good mag, but its
downfall started well before 2000. There still is a history section, but I haven't seen a new article there for years.
And from a publishers standpoint, that may even be correct. Today there a relatively few people, I think, that stay
with a matter of interest for more, than some years, so they probably won't know the old articles and won't see
them repeated either. We should be aware, that real aviation fans (as probably most in this forum here ;) ),
are quite a rare species !
The FliegerRevue (the former GDR aviation magazine) hasn't done any better to my opinion, its special series, the former
FliegerRevue Extra now trades under the name "FliegerRevue X", owned by another publisher. Formerly known for its special
emphasis and expertise for eastern avaition themes, those have to a certain extend made room for more "international" themes and
the publisher was heavily critised for turning this mag into a garden-variety aviation mag. I have followed its way more
closely and to my opinion, it really has improved again, often covering more borderland themes like "Jet designs by German
designers in Argentina", or the development of explosive riveting. German WW II aviation is a constant them, of course with
dedicated series for "secret projects" (short articles) and here, too, quality went up, I think, with conjectures and reconstructions
marked as such. Perhaps the layout not just accidentally reminds to the AirEnthusiast ?
Several years ago, the series "Luftfahrt History" by the publisher Lautec Medien was started, devoted to Gerrman WW II themes
only and covering quite in depth one or two types (prototypes, one-offs, ...) in every of the still yet 18 issues. Not sure, if it was ever
available by other was, than direct order from the publisher. What I've seen, was well researched, for example many points of the
story of the Ju 322 Mammut were were rectified. But looking to the publishers website, the last change there was in 2015 ....

Pasoleati said:
And my favourite German aircraft monograph is this and I wish someone published an English edition: https://www.amazon.de/Luftfahrt-Dokumente-Band-ARADO-erste-Strahlbomber/dp/3880882118/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500717446&sr=1-1
A bit funny, as, apart from the captions to the photos, it actually consists only of reproduced documents, so, what would you
expect of an English edition ?
 

Pasoleati

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Jemiba, I would expect those documents to be translated into English! For example, years ago a major Finnish publisher published a book whose main content was a Finnish translation of the transcript of the Kremlin meeting in April 1940 on the Winter War. The very same with the Ar 234 document book should be done.
 

Pasoleati

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Hood, probably surprisingly many, especially those with a military background. I do not know how familiar you are with naval books and magazines, but they are certainly filled with such.
 

gatoraptor

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I first got into aviation in 1966 (when I was 13) and have always asked myself the question "what is the best aviation magazine available?". Back in 1966 I would have answered Air Progress, then published 8 times a year by Conde Nast (but soon to go monthly) which had a nice mix of modern and historic, with current news, book reviews and a bit of general aviation thrown in. (Most notably, Bill Dean had ads for his Sky Books International in the back of every issue, which is where I found out about Profile Publications.) Of course, Flying Review International was probably at least as good, but living as I was in Puerto Rico, it was then unknown to me.

Of course, both of these publications changed hands and promptly went downhill; Air Progress became strictly a gen-av magazine in the style of Flying, while F.R.I. became a business magazine in the style of Flight International or Aviation Week. Fortunately, in 1971, Green and Swanborough started Air Enthusiast (later Air International) as F.R.I. reincarnated, and along with its later partner, the "new" Air Enthusiast, rose to the top of my list for many years thereafter.

But as has been stated, Air International now only covers the modern scene (but, IMO, does so quite well) while Air Enthusiast is, sadly, dead and buried and, to me, has never been satisfactorily replaced. (Key Publishing would probably direct you to Flypast, but any similarity to A.E. would be purely coincidental.)

My favorite aviation magazine now, and one of the few I get every issue of, is Flight Journal, which reminds me a lot of those Air Progress issues from the 1960s, with a nice mix of coverage. I find Aviation History and Air & Space/Smithsonian to be worth getting as well, although the latter is often too space-oriented and sometimes stumbles over Smithsonian politics.

As for the British magazines, I look through them on the newsstand every month and buy the occasional issue if I like the content; while I also liked Aeroplane more in the old days, it still seems to be the British newsstand magazine that I am most likely to buy. I am more likely to buy British "bookazines" than the regular issues, though. I also like The Aviation Historian and have been a subscriber from the start; I also dislike its usually too-British content (though considering the origin, I can forgive that) but don't find the text/photo mix to be problematic at all. They come up with some interesting content, like the article in the latest issue that provides evidence that the problem with the Westland Whirlwind fighter was not its Peregrine engines, but rather with its propellers!

I really wish that Key would put Air Enthusiast back in production in the same format as it used to have, but doubt that it will ever really happen.
 

Pasoleati

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Who publishes "Aviation History"? Do U. S. mags still have the annoying habit of having a part of the article being detached from thr main part? E.g. the article has 4 pages on pages 20 - 23 and one half-page ending on page 69.
 

gatoraptor

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Pasoleati said:
Who publishes "Aviation History"? Do U. S. mags still have the annoying habit of having a part of the article being detached from thr main part? E.g. the article has 4 pages on pages 20 - 23 and one half-page ending on page 69.

Here's a link to their web page. Yes, the magazines sometimes do that, though probably less than in the past.

http://www.historynet.com/aviation-history
 

Arjen

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Pasoleati said:
Who publishes "Aviation History"? Do U. S. mags still have the annoying habit of having a part of the article being detached from thr main part? E.g. the article has 4 pages on pages 20 - 23 and one half-page ending on page 69.
Air Enthusiast did that occasionally. Didn't stop me from buying it.
 

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Pasoleati said:
Jemiba, I would expect those documents to be translated into English!

Of course that would be great ! And a version in French, too, and one for the Italian, Russian and maybe Japanese aviation fans.
But Pauls argument is still valid here : "Its simply economics ". And what would publishing a pure translation of such documents
be good for ? Allowing the readers to write a book without the bothersome task of translating original documents by themselves ?
Most readers want to get a summary and if the author proves, that it is based on original documents, that will probably improve credibility.
But browsing through stuff like a report about shifting the trim range of the tailplane on Thirsday, 29th July 1943 (in the LID issues about
the Arado 234) is interesting only for quite a few enthusiasts, even here, I'm sure.
The Luftfahrt Dokumente series (and to a large extend the Luftfahrt International series, too) mainly got along only with original
documents and more or less without editorial work. And its success on the market was very limited !
 

overscan (PaulMM)

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Arjen said:
Pasoleati said:
Who publishes "Aviation History"? Do U. S. mags still have the annoying habit of having a part of the article being detached from thr main part? E.g. the article has 4 pages on pages 20 - 23 and one half-page ending on page 69.
Air Enthusiast did that occasionally. Didn't stop me from buying it.

Magazines split articles very often, for the benefit of their advertisers. Its like those web articles split over lots of pages with ads on. The layout is designed to make you flick through the ad pages looking for the second part of your article.
 

Pasoleati

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Arjen said:
Pasoleati said:
Who publishes "Aviation History"? Do U. S. mags still have the annoying habit of having a part of the article being detached from thr main part? E.g. the article has 4 pages on pages 20 - 23 and one half-page ending on page 69.
Air Enthusiast did that occasionally. Didn't stop me from buying it.

Very rarely AE did that. I think it was Soldier of Fortune in which the regulat column was on the last page and the final paragraph if that column was 10 pages before. And there were several articles fragmented that way in every issue. I have not seen anything like that in any Finnish magazine published for the last 30 years.
 

hesham

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Hi,

believe me,the Air Enthusiast failed for many reasons,as you mentioned some,the more
important thing was it focused on a partial of famous aircraft and Projects,also they
selected two main countries to speak about their popular weird designs only.

If I join them to write article every month (not bi-month),it will re-open with
great success,of course that is without any eagle from me.
 

lark

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The Air Enthusiast bi-monthly was one of the finest aircraft/aviation magazines ever produced.
It worked in the great tradition of Flying Review and Air Enthusiast monthly with many
great features about projects from Canada ,Australia,Sweden , the U.K and the U.S.
often written by Tony Buttler.
Collecting aviation mag's for more than fifty five years, I never saw an equivalent
not in the French market nor on the German or the U.S one...
 

gatoraptor

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Probably the closest U.S. magazine was the Wings/Airpower pair from Sentry. Their long, in-depth articles (which sometimes took up an entire issue or even more) could be quite special, though the graphics were not as eye-catching as those in Air Enthusiast. In fact, that's why I never subscribed, but preferred to buy individual issues off the newsstand; I have my favorites, and if nothing I particularly cared about was in a particular issue, I'd pass it by. But invariably the next issue would be more to my liking. I probably bought about 5-7 issues a year.

Incidentally, the use of two different names for alternate months was a clever ploy to keep two issues on the newsstand at any one time; as anyone who bought the magazine knows, it was really one monthly magazine, masquerading as two alternating bimonthlys! I'm surprised that more magazines haven't used that idea since.
 

lark

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Indeed , their booklenght articles ,for exemple about the creation and development of the P-38, were outstanding.
It must be said that Air Classics also have produced good things in the recent years.
'Creating Connie ' by Will Hawkins to say something...
 

hesham

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Yes,the first mistake had been done for AE magazine was a bi-month published,must
be a monthly.
 

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