Flying Magazine Turns 90

Founded in 1927 by William Ziff Sr., the publication flourished in the excitement of a famous aviator’s miraculous solo flight across the Atlantic.

Flying Magazine
Inspired by Charles Lindbergh's successful solo Atlantic crossing, William B. Ziff Sr. launched Popular Aviation 90 years ago. It became Flying magazine.Flying

The moment word of Charles Lindbergh's successful solo Atlantic crossing reached America on May 21, 1927, Chicago advertising executive William B. Ziff Sr. had an idea. To capitalize on the frenzy of the milestone event he would create an aviation magazine aimed at regular people who he was certain would now be motivated to learn to fly. Thus, Flying magazine was born.

An aviator himself in World War I and the publisher of a humor magazine, Ziff was uniquely qualified to take on the task. The result of his ideas and efforts grew to become the inaugural August 1927 issue of Popular Aviation, which would eventually become Flying magazine, well known among aviation enthusiasts as "the world's most widely read aviation magazine."

With his partner Bernard G. Davis, Ziff would go onto to found the successful Ziff-Davis media company, which published several magazines including Popular Aviation, Popular Photography, Popular Electronics and other titles, and purchased more, including Car and Driver, PC Magazine and others.

Ziff briefly changed the name of Popular Aviation in the early 1930s to Aeronautics before switching back. He then changed the name to Flying and Popular Aviation. With World War II in full swing and the focus of the magazine shifting to military aviation (since there was almost no personal flying at the time) Popular Aviation was dropped and the name Flying adopted.

After the war, with returning GIs eager to learn to fly in light airplanes like Piper J-3 Cubs, Aeronca Champs, Ercoupes and others, Flying flourished and its audience grew.

Ziff-Davis in 1984 sold the magazine to Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., then one of the world's largest magazine publishers. In 2009, Hachette sold Flying to Bonnier Corp., the U.S. magazine division of the family-owned Bonnier Group of Sweden – which, incidentally, is the country from which the Lindbergh family emigrated to the United States.

Today Flying remains the most popular newsstand aviation magazine in the world, and has expanded into multiple brand channels online that include video, photos, the Flying Enews and a strong social media following.

The magazine is produced each month by a team led by Editor-in-Chief Stephen Pope, and still includes many aviation luminaries on the masthead including Peter Garrison, who has written for Flying for more than 50 years.