The first part of these guidelines describes the kinds of articles that fit our editorial formula and how to propose articles to us. The second part describes the kind of photography we are seeking.
1. WRITERS’ GUIDELINES
Flight Journal presents aviation-oriented material, for the most part with a historical overtone, but also with some modern “history in the making” reporting. Many articles have an “I was there” or “from the cockpit” human-interest emphasis, typically in a manner that is not being done in other magazines. We are trying to “… sing the note no one else is singing ….”
It is important that prospective writers understand that we are NOT a general aviation magazine—so we are not interested in articles such as “My Flight to Baja in my 172,” or “My friend’s Homebuilt.” Nor do we wish to publish articles that are simply detailed recitations of the technical capabilities of an aircraft.
A typical issue of Flight Journal will include, among other features:
• 2-3 articles on WW II.
• modern jet story; it could be hardware and operations with pilot interviews, or a personal story.
• historical piece, e.g., early airlines, barnstormers.
• semi-technical piece with historical overtones, e.g. low aspect ratio airplanes, Burnelli lifting-body aircraft.
When considering a story idea, Flight Journal places a premium on the following:
1. Does the basic idea fit our mission?
2. Is there an unusual slant to the idea that makes it unique?
3. Does it lend itself to an exciting presentation because of unusual pictures? Is it a fantastic but true personal account?, etc.
4. Is there a lot of human interest? We want as much human interest in every story as possible. The designers, builders, pilots and mechanics are what aviation is all about.
Basic idea: WW II Gunner Aces (idea appears unique and is certainly not overdone). The article, by Barrett Tillman, was published in our February 1997 issue.
Slant: difficulties faced by gunners.
They were often just kids.
How accurate were the gunners, how many of them, how many kills?
Quotes from German fighter pilots would be desirable, e.g., how it was to attack a bomber box?
Excitement potential: is good WW I and WW II photography available? Are personal accounts?
Human interest: what was it like to be a kid in that position? Paint a picture of the fear, the cold, the blood, etc., using quotes and anecdotal stuff wherever possible.
How to Submit your Idea
Send a single page outline of your idea to:
Flight Journal magazine
c/o Budd Davisson
Air Age Publishing
88 Danbury Rd.
Wilton, CT 06897
Or email the equivalent to Budd Davisson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or fax your proposal to John Howell at (203) 529-3010
Feel free to use the intro to the story as the lead paragraph.
Indicate the story’s angle, uniqueness, technical or historical interest value, human interest.
If practical, provide one or more samples of prior articles so we can get a feel for your style.
We’ll respond and let you know what we think of the idea and whether you should send it in.
The article should come to us by email or on a disk along with a double-spaced hard copy.
Average article length is 2,500–3,000 words, or approximately 8 pages, when double-spaced, on typing paper or printed from a word processor. Lengthier pieces should be discussed in advance with the editors.
Base pay for a full-size article is $600 and builds for later submissions. In certain situations and with well-published authors the rate is negotiable. Color photographs are purchased separately unless a bundled fee is negotiated.
WW II Stories
We can’t stress enough the human interest factor, and that includes writing the article in such a way that readers find themselves in that position, regardless of what that position may have been. Interviews with pilots and crewmen can add color and depth to an article and can be written into the article or separated in sidebars.
We also like, where possible, an upbeat, fast-moving style, with humor, where it fits. An irreverent approach can also be appropriate.
Please don’t simply state, “My uncle was a bomber pilot” without more details and what it is that makes his story unusual. Did he have unusual, gripping experiences that touch on history or illustrate technical points of interest relating to the capabilities of the aircraft he flew in? Do you have photos that help document his story?
We don’t want to know simply that, “… he shot down the Zero …”; we want to know how he felt at the time, e.g., “… He was only 20 years old, and there he was doing 300mph, 15 feet over the jungle trying to kill another 20-year-old. There was nothing in his mind but the other airplane. His heart was pounding …,” etc.
Set the scene, get inside the subject’s head. Don’t tell us; show us!
We’re really looking for the unusual in aviation history: who invented the cotter pin? How did gunsights work?, etc.
Technically dense subjects must be well-organized and written so that it is easy to get to and digest the information. Use sidebars to divide the content so that readers are not asked to swim through a large river of words. For example, the history of an aircraft or a technical discussion of its armament or aerodynamic characteristics can be separately discussed in a sidebar.
If it doesn’t add something to the story and make it move, it doesn’t belong.
Avoid historically accurate, but bland, chronologies of events. The name of the game is to engage the readers.
Professionalism in both words and photos is a hallmark of Flight Journal.
If you have a personal story you feel is worthwhile but aren’t a professional-quality writer, don’t worry. In that case, we’ll help with the writing.
The Need to Preserve the Human Side of Aviation History
The human history of aviation is slipping away from us, and we want to capture those stories firsthand before it’s too late. If you or anyone you know has an unusual, gripping story from aviation’s past, drop us a line. Don’t wait.
When providing a personal account of wartime experiences, please understand the editors may seek some form of corroborating documentation to verify the times and places of the events described.
2. PHOTO GUIDELINES
Flight Journal considers the quality of the photography used to be at least as important as the quality of the journalism. It is the magazine’s goal to become the photographic standard by which all other aviation magazines are measured.
Photography is split into two categories: historical and contemporary. Historical photography is that which comes out of archives and is supplied in support of an article.
Contemporary photography is often shot by the photographer supplying the images.
While the standards for the two categories will always be high, archival photography standards won’t necessarily match those for contemporary images.
Wherever possible Flight Journal prefers to use first-generation prints of historical black-and-whites. All images offered must meet the following standards unless their unique nature is justification to relax those standards.
Ownership of the images must be known and verifiable. If in the public domain, that must be clear.
They must be sharp.
Contrast and brightness must be such that the photos will reproduce well.
They must illustrate a point in the article.
Images that have been repeatedly published will NOT be considered.
Prints should measure at least 5×7 inches, if possible.
If previously published, Flight Journal must know where and when.
Flight Journal will return photos on an agreed schedule and protect them while at our facility.
Contemporary photography for Flight Journal is viewed very much the same as if we were publishing NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC or LIFE. The photography must be as professional and powerful as possible.
When photographing for Flight Journal, please keep the following in mind.
Subject must fill the frame and dominate the image.
Background must be uncluttered; no telephone poles sticking up behind the airplanes.
Color should be submitted as slides if possible, 100 ASA or slower.
Horizontal and vertical framing is desirable. Covers typically require vertical framing.
Preference is given to powerful, unusual images.
35mm and larger formats must be used.
Study recent issues of Flight Journal to get an idea of what we are looking for. If you are about to shoot a sproposed article, we can offer further guidance.
Please do not send original slides unless you have discussed this with the editors.
Submit a query letter outlining the type of photography you have along with some samples, if possible.
Stamp each slide with your ownership to ease identification.
Number each slide and write a proposed caption indicating the contents of the image.
Do not send slides loose. Always use pocket sleeves.
Send FedEx or some other traceable way.
Flight Journal is not responsible for losses incurred during shipping.