Few metaphors have such tangible meaning as taking a few turns around the pattern and thinking, “We see so far because we stand on the shoulders of giants.”
It’s easy to tip my mental hat to the Wrights, Curtis or Whittle. But we each have inspired instructors or mechanics who found the burned valve before it failed. What about the oil-field hands whose labor we burn at high expense to practice flying in circles? Most of our edifice of aviation is built from tiny bricks stacked by many hands.
Seven-plus years ago, Belvoir Media gave me the opportunity to try stacking a few bricks of my own as the editor of IFR. It’s been a relished challenge each month since then. This issue will be the last one for me. The next challenge will be projects for Redbird Flight Simulations—projects that you may read about in coming issues of IFR. Feel free to keep in touch with me about these efforts or other matters at email@example.com. That old address will stay with me.
Frank Bowlin will be taking over the controls here at the magazine. If you noticed his presence in these pages expanding over past months, now you know why. He’s been one of the people whose efforts have made this magazine what it is today. You’re in good hands.
There are many other “giants” whose efforts you may not see, but who have been essential to IFR over these past years. However, there are three I must call out by name. One is Brad Rush of the FAA. Without his expertise on TERPS and approach plates, IFR simply couldn’t happen. If you ever doubt there are any intelligent, dedicated people in the FAA working hard every day, you should spend some time with Brad and his team. I must owe him eight steak dinners by now.
Another is Kevin Lane-Cummings, who was both proofer and reviewer each month. If errors slip through, it’s because I put so many in that Kevin couldn’t catch them all. He’s a CFI and wordsmith in his own right. I couldn’t have made IFR work without him.
Lastly, IFR over this time has evolved under the masterful and watchful eye of Editorial Director, Paul Bertorelli. Many of you know Paul and his reputation as a contributor to AVweb, all the Belvoir aviation publications, former editor of Aviation Consumer, and even former editor of this magazine. His mentorship—and friendship—have meant more to me than I can fully express. And those bricks in the edifice of aviation? You’d be surprised how many have Paul’s fingerprints on them. Of course, some of those prints are on bricks he’s worked hard to rip out, but that’s another story.
One of the great things about this magazine’s discriminating audience is that when one of you sends a compliment on a job well done, it means something.
Of course, this readership won’t hesitate to spotlight a mistake or disagree. I’ve relished both. Honestly. It’s how things come full circle: My work goes out there into the world in hopes of being useful, and it begets interactions that come back to teach and challenge me. Some of that goes right back into these pages.
That means that each of you has your fingerprints on the bricks of IFR. From the perspective of one last circuit I say: “Thanks for the lift.” —Jeff Van West