May 24, 2010

Student Pilots Benefit from Redesigned Flight Training Magazine

flighttraining_newcover.jpgA few months ago AOPA's Flight Training Magazine went through a redesign. In the June Issue Deputy Editor Ian J. Twombly shared some letters from readers sharing their mixed reviews of the redesign, which reminded me that I had not yet shared my viewpoints on the redesign. My overall thought is the redesign is an upgrade of the previous magazine experience. It continues to be the premier magazine for student pilots interested in learning to fly. That being said there are areas that I hope AOPA continues to tweak to further improve the reading experience. I'll start out with what I love about the new magazine design and experience.

The entire "Preflight" section at the beginning of the magazine has been positively improved. The addition of a Sport Illustrated-esque two page photo spread is a beautiful way to kick-off the section. What pilot doesn't enjoy looking at great aviation photography? I would love to see it expanded to include one professional photo each month and one member submitted photo with a brief story describing the photo. I also enjoy the "This Weekend" feature with the nice depiction of events taking place across the country. Though, I would love to see that part of the website updated weekly rather than monthly.

energy_footprint.jpgThe feature articles have also been improved with better imagery and iconography. In the current issue there is an interesting article on Energy Footprints, I appreciate the nice infographics that accompany this article. Since the redesign their seems to be a concerted effort to use more infographics, which as a visual learner I appreciate.

I have heard some people complaints that the articles are getting to short, possibly adapting to the increase in attention deficit disorder. Historically, there were articles that felt like they had been lengthened to meet a word count but were not providing addition benefit or detail. I think this is where the infographics play a vital role, as a picture can be worth a thousand words, shaving space but still communicating the core message. As a result I believe Flight Training Magazine has found the right balance for their depth of information.

I was also impressed with this month's "Technique: Track your flight" article which shares with readers the ins and outs of creating a GPS track of your flight for post flight review and sharing via the web. This type of content is a perfect example of great content that previously was only found on blogs. I learned from fellow bloggers how to do this a few years ago and love tracking my flights. I am glad to see Flight Training bringing some of these great ideas to print. Even more impressive is that on the redesigned Flight Training website their is a video walk-through of the sames process.

Although, I like more aspects of the redesign than I dislike, I was disappointed with a few of the changes. I was disappointed with the way some of my favorite elements of the magazine were de-emphasized. I feel like the designer ran out of steam when it came time to design the pages that house the regular commentary from Greg Brown and Rod Machado. Readers feel like they know both of these authors as we follow their advice and adventures month to month. It is disappointing that their sections of the magazine did not receive as much attention. I would love to see work done to bring these parts of the magazine more to life.

All in all I am happy with the redesign of Flight Training magazine, what were your thoughts on the redesign?

Posted by at May 24, 2010 7:05 PM
Comments

I've only managed to read the first volume of the redesign but I do think it's an improvement overall. Total agreement from me about the apparent lack of attention to Rod Machado's section, by the way.

All that said, I think the recent redesign of EAA's Sport Aviation magazine is light years ahead of what AOPA did with Flight Training in terms of content and design. I honestly love flipping through every page of that magazine now - you can tell some serious research and effort went into the significant redesign.

So while Flight Training had been improved, I think they have a long way to go to reach the high bar EAA just set with their publication.

Posted by: Steve at May 24, 2010 10:10 PM

I agree it is an improvement, but is there something to be said about the actual flight schools reading the magazine? I think the magazine should consider instructors and flight school operators as well as students.

Posted by: Matt Cadwell at August 10, 2010 1:31 PM
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