SPOTLIGHT 

Aviation magazines

Aviation publications are flying high in a packed sector covering everything from microlights to corporate jets. Alan Geere goes wing-walking among the titles.

By Alan Geere

Aviation magazines
Photograph: Daniel Eledut on Unsplash

Aviation News

What’s it about: ‘The past, present and future of flight’ – tagline under masthead.

Vital statistics: June 2019 issue: 84 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, stitched. £4.80 cover price. States a circulation of 18,000 in the media pack. Published monthly by Key Publishing in Stamford, Lincs.

Cover: Big picture of a Boeing 777, two smaller pictures of combat aircraft, six coverline subjects and a ‘Win! Corgi RAF aircraft models*’ strapline complete with enigmatic asterisk that is not explained.

Content: Clear and consequential contents on page three, complete with five pictures with page number references and caption for the cover. Early pages crammed with news before ‘D-Day 50th anniversary remembered’ – the first of many well-illustrated features, that also include another anniversary, the 25th of the Boeing 777. Worldwide events calendar, ‘Flight Bag’ book reviews and Register Review of who’s registered what help change the pace.

Digital: Promo to website under masthead leads to a smattering of news (six items in two months), two reviews from two years ago and a decent searchable events calendar. Press the link buttons to go to Twitter which has 1,672 followers and is almost entirely links to Facebook and promoted ads. Facebook has more activity and more traction with 14.5k likes. Opportunities to subscribe in both print and digital.

What they say: “Readers may notice some changes to the magazine this month. While the content has not altered we have introduced a fresh new look which we hope you will like. We are always keen to hear feedback [etc etc] …” – editor Dino Carrara takes the plunge in his editorial on page 4.

Verdict: From the impressive Key Publishing stable – or should that be hangar? – of aviation titles, Aviation News does not have many ads, so is crammed full of words and pictures. Takes a broad view of aviation which must go down well with the readers – “predominantly male, aged 30-60” – who enjoy the insightful writing and well-projected photography.

Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly

What’s it about: ‘For dealmakers and decisionmakers’ – explainer in media kit.

Vital statistics: ‘Q2’ 2019 issue: 72 pages of 280mm x 216mm. Quality matt paper, card cover, perfect bound. Free to qualified readers. Publisher states 25,000 circulation in print and digital. Published quarterly by Specialist Insight Ltd in Reigate, Surrey.

Cover: Big picture of a man sitting in an opulent corporate jet (he owns a fleet of aircraft) complete with his own coverline, three smaller pictures, nine tiny promos to inside at top and bottom of the page. All set on a black background with suitably sumptuous gold foil lettering.

Content: Find out what’s inside from page 001 to 068 in the contents spread on 004-005 (ok, you get the picture). Serious features full of figures are complemented by a three-way Q&A with industry big-hitters, futuristic pictures of the latest vertical take-off craft and a comprehensive conference report. An investigation into the ‘multi-million dollar drugs industry’ is a stand-out piece of journalism for such a niche publication.

Digital: Website is not obviously promoted in the magazine, but once there, readers are rewarded with a comprehensive offering of news and opinion plus guides and events. Opportunity to flip through some of the content via Foleon. Links to Twitter (6,290 followers) and Facebook (1,549 likes) plus an appropriately corporate LinkedIn page.

What they say: “How long until you can fly in a flying car?” – editor Alasdair Whyte maybe eyeing up another publishing opportunity on Twitter.

Verdict: A bold foray into print publishing – this is just issue two – after life as a website since 2010. Plenty of advertisers seem to indicate it has been a successful move and with quality content and a luxurious finish, this is clearly aimed at the top people in this high-end industry.

Flight International

What’s it about: ‘Keeping the aerospace & aviation industry updated’ – description on Twitter page.

Vital statistics: May 28-June 3, 2019 issue: 44 pages of 265mm x 196mm. Lightweight gloss paper, heavier cover, stitched. £3.90 cover price. Website states ‘readership of 25,988’. Published weekly by Reed Business Information in Sutton. (The title was acquired in June by DVV Media International.)

Cover: Full bleed picture of a stricken superjet with major coverline touting an investigation inside. Two small coverlines and a flash promoting a special supplement.

Content: Straightforward contents on page three, incorporating regulars, news and features. Well-expounded comment page followed by the newsy ‘This Week’. The promoted investigation is only one page but is packed with detail as is the six-page show report from Geneva. Clearly defined sections like ‘air transport’ and ‘news focus’ plus letters and a small classified section contribute to the all-round package. This issue came in a poly bag with ‘Airbus at 50 supplement’ – at 56 pages, bigger than the main book.

Digital: Well promoted website has links to Twitter (a healthy 107k followers) and Facebook (17k likes) plus WeChat for Chinese readers. A comprehensive jobs section and an interesting ‘How we can help’ page which is selling add-on services.

What they say: “We do not accept ads that mimic Reed Business Information editorial content or style” – publishers not ‘going native’ in their general creative guidelines to advertisers.

Verdict: The interesting size (15 per cent smaller than A4) somehow reinforces the sense of solidity and authority. Small typeface and information packed headlines and captions make it impossible to turn the page without stopping. A worthy, if slightly compact, giant – both print and digital – in the marketplace.

Flyer

What’s it about: ‘The thrill of flying’ – strapline under masthead.

Vital statistics: July 2019 issue: 84 pages of 300mm x 220mm. Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £4.99 cover price. Media pack records a print circulation 10,453 per issue. Published monthly by Seager Publishing in Bath.

Cover: Big picture of a tiny plane, either that or it is a very big pilot squashed into the cockpit, plus well-crafted coverline. Two small pictures of planes with coverlines and two promos including an image of a digital autopilot.

Content: Mercifully short editorial with 1960s comic style illustration of the editor followed by clear and concise contents. ‘Take-off’ is five pages of news and the features come thick and fast with a show report and flying adventure. All interspersed with some quirky – some may use the F-word, fun – pages like ‘I get paid for this’, ‘Unusual attitude’ and ‘That worst day’. Equipment test, vouchers for free landings worth £86 and a healthy classified section help complete the package.

Digital: Clear, large pointer to website on front of mag takes readers to a busy offering with links to Twitter (7k followers) and Facebook (17k likes).

What they say: “A few years ago I was stupid enough to go to one of those business networking breakfasts. Over stale croissants, and between pitches from executive life coaches and photocopier salesmen, a ‘success consultant’ delivered a series of clichés to her captive audience…” – publisher Ian Seager shares the pain of publishing executives in a product review.

Verdict: It’s easy to get the impression that General Aviation (GA) is actually exciting and enjoyable from this equally pleasurable magazine. Full of information and comment from people who seem to know what they are talking about, this independent magazine will keep real flyers and armchair pilots occupied between take-offs.

Pilot

What’s it about: ‘Britain’s best-selling GA magazine’ – strapline under masthead.

Vital statistics: June 2019 issue: 100 pages of 297mm x 210mm. Quality gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £4.25 cover price. No longer registered with ABC although website says it is. Last ABC figure – for 2017 – was 12,041. Published monthly by Archant Specialist in Wokingham, Berks.

Cover: Big picture of three wartime planes in a blue sky with explanatory coverline. Two other promos with small pictures. Four exquisitely crafted cross refs on the 3mm wide spine – hats off to printers William Gibbons.

Content: A spread of well-illustrated contents across pages 4 and 5 precedes 10 pages of news, badged up as ‘Notes’. Columns, letters, and reviews intersperse the meaty content of that cover feature, flight tests, historic and restoration features. A comprehensive calendar and a useful classified section (building lots with landing strip in the Dordogne, anyone?) complete the package with a readers column called ILAFFT – I Learned About Flying From That – on the last page.

Digital: A website with the innovative url pilotweb.aero that is signposted on the cover and in the folio lines, has a mix of news, reviews and classified all set on a big ad backdrop. Other sections on gear, techniques & training and flying schools are well-populated. Links to Twitter (6.5k followers) and Facebook (6.7k likes) which have engaging pictures and videos.

What they say: “Articles should not be too long. Short, concise features are far more likely to be accepted than long rambling accounts” – ‘Advice for Contributors’ on the website; E Hemingway and C Dickens need not apply.

Verdict: Lots to like about this comprehensive title, which is put together by a small editorial team plus contributors. Plenty to both look at and read and efforts to involve the audience are to be applauded.

RAF News

What’s it about: ‘The Forces’ favourite paper’ – stamp on cover.

Vital statistics: May 31, 2019 issue: 40 pages of 432mm x 279mm. Newsprint. 70p cover price. Website states ‘print run of 15,000 copies’. Published every two weeks by Royal Air Force News in High Wycombe.

Cover: Big, bold masthead with two ‘Win! Win!’ promos above. Illustrated cross-ref to eight-pages of D-Day, two sport plugs, a main picture of a guitar-playing air force museum worker and a lead story on the RAF’s newest fighter jet.

Content: After a disappointing page three, which houses a turn from the front, confidently projected news with decent headlines and well-used pictures goes through to page 17. The D-Day special is as comprehensive as you could hope for, especially the archive photographs. R’n’R gives a change of pace with TV, announcements and puzzles before obits and a packed six pages of sport.

Digital: Website not obviously promoted in the publication but once there, browsers can choose to read the Issuu version of the newspaper or look at the latest headlines. Links to Twitter, with just 820 followers and no activity since December last year, and a more up-to-date Facebook page with 2,670 likes. Also another Twitter account – @RAFNewsReporter – which has tweeted 41 times in four years, and one for sport which is updated regularly with 2,200 followers.

What they say: “Can u send me Parky Parkinson in aircraft cockpit, fist raised, pic from BBMF Facebk page plse?” – features editor Tracey Allen comes over all txt spk in a request to ‘Lisa’ on Twitter.

Verdict: A neat, busy tabloid newspaper format which presents a no-nonsense topical take on what’s going on in and around the RAF. Well-designed in a traditional sense with lots of names and faces to pore over.

This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.