I was very sad to hear the news this morning that Dick Collins passed away. As I was learning to fly in the 1990s, Dick became an inspiration to me both as a writer and as a student of the weather. As a newly minted private pilot, I read as many of Dick’s articles as I could get my hands on…I have stacks of his magazine articles still neatly packed away in my closet in a dozen or so boxes.
Even though my profession is in the field of meteorology, I didn’t have – and will never have – the weather flying experience that Dick so carefully wrote about in many of his articles. You could tell with each and every paragraph he crafted that Dick was also a student of the weather and had utmost respect for the mysteries Mother Nature bestowed. It takes a gifted and talented person to write to express, not to impress. Even as Dick aged, he continued to impart his wisdom even just one month ago in his last piece in the Air Facts Journal.
I only met Dick once, very briefly at the Cumberland Airport in Maryland about 15 years ago. As I reached out to shake his hand, he put on a big, but humble smile. Even though we never exchanged business cards or emails, even though he never got a chance to attend one of my live aviation weather workshops, I felt he was a good friend and colleague simply through is stories. He promoted safety in so many ways and his long aviation career demonstrated his passion for it. There’s no doubt that his wisdom through his penmanship saved many a human life…not just those of pilots, but passengers as well. As you have educated a countless number of pilots about weather over the last 50 or more years, I will continue to carry your torch Dick. You will be missed!