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Air Facts Winners of 2024 Collins Writing Prize

2024 Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots Winners

Sporty's Air Facts has announced the winners of the 2024 Richard Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots, highlighting the talents of young aviators in the world of aviation writing. Clay Simmons, a 22-year-old aircraft builder and pilot from Knoxville, Tennessee, claimed the top prize with his article "Blister Flight: Six Pilots and an Angel." The piece, which delves into Simmons's deep-rooted passion for aviation and recounts his most memorable flight, was chosen for its vivid storytelling and emotional depth. 

Simmons's journey in aviation began in his childhood, flying in the backseat of his father's Cub in the Idaho backcountry. A pivotal moment came during a campfire gathering at Johnson Creek, a grass strip in central Idaho, where he pledged to become the world's youngest aircraft builder. His article also touches on a significant event in 2018—an airplane accident involving his father—that profoundly impacted his path as an aviator.

John Zimmerman, Editor in Chief of Air Facts and President of Sporty's, presented Simmons with a $5,000 prize to support his future in aviation and writing. The winning article has been published in Air Facts, sharing Simmons's inspiring story with a wider audience. Currently, Simmons works as a sales associate at Aerista, an aircraft brokerage firm, and continues to fly and maintain his Carbon Cub.

The competition also recognized Joseph Cummins of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a second prize for his article "My First Oshkosh." Cummins's narrative captures the excitement of an early morning flight to EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with friends in a Piper Archer. His vivid account of the adventure, meeting new people, and the joy of the return flight at sunset earned him a $2,500 prize. His article, too, has been published in Air Facts.

The Richard L. Collins Writing Prize for Young Pilots is supported by royalties from Collins's book sales and contributions from his children, Richard, Jr., Sarah, and Charlotte. Air Facts, which began in 1938 under the editorship of Richard's father, Leighton Collins, continues to be a platform for aviation authors. Sporty's revived Air Facts as an online magazine in 2011, maintaining its legacy as a hub for aviation enthusiasts and writers.

FMI: AirFactsJournal


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