Richard Collins bids Len Morgan Farewell

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FL0605_LenMorgan_main

Our fine friend and colleague Len Morgan died on March 11 after a long illness. He was 82.

In his late teens, Len went off to Canada and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. The United States had not yet entered World War II and Len and 11 other Americans earned their RCAF wings on November 21, 1941. Len's parents, Jill and Jack, had moved to the United States from England so Len's motivation to help out in that dark time for England was obvious. I knew one of the other 11, Charlie Woods, and when he died recently Len told me he thought he was now the last survivor of that young group. It meant a lot to him to have been a part of it.

After December 7, Len came back to the U. S. military and flew there until the end of the war. Then it was back to college, on the G. I. Bill. He kept his flying up in National Guard P-51s. Len had been interested in writing while in the service. Our family paths first crossed when my father, Leighton, published one of Len's early articles in the November 1952 issue of Air Facts magazine. It was the first of many in that magazine and in Flying. Len also produced more than 30 books, mostly about specific airplane types. His bestseller, on the P-51, sold 50,000 copies. At least one pilot said he read that book and then checked himself out in a P-51.

Len made many contributions to aviation and to the general good of everything and everybody. He wrote his column, Vectors in Flying for 20 years and retired from a Braniff 747 at age 60 after a 33-year career that started in DC-3s. In his Vectors column Len wrote about airplanes and flying and people and experiences. He was a great teller of stories and I shall never forget the column that he wrote after his mother, Jill, passed away. It was as eloquent as anything ever published in Flying.

When his father, Jack, had passed away, a grandson scattered his ashes in the Atlantic Ocean. For Jill, Len and his wife Margaret headed out in their Skyhawk and did the same for her. Len wrote that after they had scattered the ashes, "We looked toward the eastern horizon, far beyond which these same blue waters washing the sands of her adopted homeland also lapped the shores of her beloved England." In his last Vectors column in 1999, Len closed with a reflection on his bond with the readers. "So, good friends, it was good knowing all of you. Goodbye, wherever you are."

In the January 2004 issue of Flying, Len shared with us a lot of his thoughts on flying, retirement and his initial battle with cancer. In tribute to the fact that for every shining star there is a match, he concluded: "And Margaret, the loving centerpiece of all that matters. Her love and encouragement for 60 years are the foundation of anything I have accomplished. I have been truly blessed."

So have we, for having had this kind, gentle, talented man as a friend and a colleague over all these years.

Remember Len here