My Top FLYING Stories for 2023

FLYING’s editor-in-chief counts down the top stories from 2023.

FLYING’s editor-in-chief counts down the top stories from 2023. [Courtesy: Boeing Co.] saw a lot of visitors in 2023. 

I can honestly say our stories captured millions of reads from pilots and aviation enthusiasts over the last 12 months, both for our digital-only news and enterprise reporting, as well as the print features we brought online to share with the world.

Being the stickler for detail I am, I waited til the last second ticked over on the year before diving in to see what scored highest—and here are my select 7 of those stories and why I found them compelling.

Boeing Bird of Prey Shrouded in Secrecy Still

Jason McDowell, a mild-mannered private pilot from the Midwest, consistently entertains and intrigues with both his New Owner online column, Air Compare features in print, and this series on History’s Unique Aircraft. A jet named after a Klingon spacecraft from Star Trek and given the designation “YF-118G”, Boeing’s Bird of Prey incorporated dramatic design inside and out. Why is it still a mystery? It has less to do with Boeing—and more so with the giant aerospace OEM it acquired in the 90s, McDonnell-Douglas. 

Downed WWII Lancaster Bomber Raised from Sea Floor

Our readers love their warbirds—and they clearly love a good rescue story. Who doesn’t? Especially when the survivor in question is a rare Avro Lancaster Ed603—the heavy bomber the Brits used to defend their shores and stop Hitler in World War II. Eight decades later, the airplane’s remains and those of several crewmembers have been recovered in a poignant story by Kimberly Johnson that clearly struck a chord with readers.

Why Jet It Failed

From our unique position as the world’s largest aviation media organization—a title we took in 2023 with several key acquisitions—we have an insider’s look at much of industry. And sometimes that goes a step further, because we are deeply involved in flying and operating aircraft ourselves. When fractional operator Jet It collapsed in May, FLYING Media Group owner Craig Fuller brought his behind the scenes look at the cause of the collapse to FLYING’s readers as one of the HondaJet share owners affected by the fractional’s failure.

Collings Foundation Grounds Air Tour for WWII Aircraft

More living history made our headlines—with repercussions following the horrific accident taking B-17 Flying Fortress Nine-Oh-Nine on October 2, 2022. Technical editor Meg Godlewski went in depth when the Collings Foundation took the needed step to reduce its exposure to risk by halting its famous Wings of Freedom tours of WWII aircraft and other flying legends. Instead, it has adapted its mission to bring the aircraft to a wider range of school groups with more robust education and preservation.

NTSB Releases Fiery HondaJet Runway Excursion Details

Unfortunately, many of you seek for its reporting on accidents—looking to learn beyond the reports of the National Transportation Safety Board and understand why they occurred. Our goal? To help you mitigate the causes of these occurrences in your own flying. While several high-profile events captured our readers’ attention—and continue to do so in Peter Garrison’s Aftermath analysis as well—runway excursions by business jets remain a stubborn accident profile that the industry seeks to reduce.

A Yak 18T’s Escape from Ukraine

An exclusive feature from our print edition also racked up significant views in just the few weeks since it debuted online—FLYING contributor Jay Selman revealed the inspiring story of a special Yak 18T and the complex maneuvering  to bring it out of Ukraine and into flying status in the U.S. Both restoration and rescue mission, this article drew a lot of attention—as do many of our aircraft features, including We Fly reports on new aircraft, and Restoration Nation features on bringing historic airplanes back to life.

SpaceX Starship Grounded Indefinitely by the FAA

And the top story—in terms of total time viewers spent reading it? Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship has clearly caught our imagination in its democratization of space. Jack Daleo’s reporting on the subject drew folks to our site (thank you) and kept them reading all year long. We’re fascinated by space—and the dawn of a new era of exploration is upon us that more regular people will be able to take part in. 

That’s just one reason why I’m excited to see what 2024 brings us, in terms of stories.

And for me? I vow to #flymorein24! See you in the skies.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

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