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About How It Flies

To create the greatest aircraft reference- the most types, the best information, the most helpful to pilots.

That's what I was thinking when I started working on How It Flies. Beyond being a general reference like an encyclopedia, I wanted it to capture the more subjective qualities of an aircraft. That can only come from people who have direct experience with an aircraft, the pilots who flies it.

Experience is the keyword. The numbers, though important, tell only part of the story. Flying is a sensory experience, and each airplane delivers its own set of sensations.

I quickly realized that to accomplish the goal would take the assistance of a wide cross section of the pilot community. None of us has access to every aircraft. Even an F-18 pilot will probably never pilot a 747, or B-17 for that matter.

The collection of technologies known as Web 2.0 have greatly increased the possibilities of information sharing. While the early web was a one way street of information from publisher to reader, the new methods make mass collaboration possible. Now we can easily share the information that is walking around in the head of anyone who flies.

I think How It Flies will appeal to pilots of all types of aircraft. Aviation tends to attract people who are enthusiastic about the subject. Much of the fun of flying, like a child's Christmas, comes from the anticipation. Much of the fun too comes from sharing your experience with like minded souls. I hope How It Flies provides a venue for both.

About Me
For my 16th birthday my parents gave me enough time to solo. After that, they said, I was on my own. So, like many before me, I spent weekends working at the local airport (8A6) in exchange for flight time.

On my 17th birthday I was ready for my private practical, but it didn't happen. After waiting most of that day my examiner, a WWII B-25 pilot, suggested that the weather wasn't going to clear, and we scheduled a successful flight later in the week.

After high school I was lucky enough to enter the Naval Academy and later became a pilot and flew the A-6. I have since logged time in gliders, ultralights, a couple of warbirds and taken a tandem hang glider flight. Each type I find offers it own unique joys.

After I left the navy, business, marriage and kids intervened to lead me away from flying. Eventually I got back into it through the CAP, where I do most of my flying now.

I had been working on How It Flies as a personal project on and off for about a year when I made a personal commitment six weeks before Airventure 2008 to finish the site and travel to Oshkosh to let people know about it. I was pleased with the response but still found the content building a very slow process. It was only since I started using Wikipedia articles as a starting point that the site has started to attract a critical mass of readers and contributors.

I don't know if it's a project that will ever be finished, but I hope you enjoy discovering and contributing as much as I do.

Keith West
Richmond, Virginia