With patient scouring of Tradera I have finally completed my collection of all issues of Pilot from 1974 to 1980—the top years of the magazine.
Leafing through the magazines, I reflect that they probably have done quite a lot to shape my character (causation unclear, but certainly strengthening any pre-existing MÖPish tendencies). At the time I thought Pilot was among the coolest reading you could find; now I have a somewhat more nuanced attitude towards the magazines, but they have nostalgic value and indeed still serve as inspiration for many modelling projects.
So what can we find in them? Well, for one thing, aviation is presented as almost exclusively military aviation, and indeed, even the proportion of stories about infantry soldiers is many times the proportion of stories about civilian pilots. Natacha would have been completely out of place. To be further specific, when we say “military”, we are talking about World War II, with a smattering of World War I. There might have been one or two stories from the Korean War, but absolutely none about the Vietnam War. With time this was leavened with such characters as Dan Cooper, a contemporary pilot in the Canadian Air Force, and the occasional serialisation of Buck Danny adventures. It was notable how much higher the quality of the latter was both with regards to the drawing of aircraft and in the plot construction than in the more mass-produced Battler Britton adventures that were the mainstay. Now, with 30 more years of studies behind me, I tend to cringe at the depiction of the aircraft in many of the comics as the artists often seemed to have worked from pictures with no understanding of the system behind markings, camouflage or combat tactics.
The comics often revolved around several common themes: Sacrificing yourself for your buddies, redemption of past transgressions (often through death), honouring one's opponents, curing of temporary cowardice, not judging people too hastily and in particular not underestimating the nerdy-looking guy. I guess there could be worse morals.
During the period covered by my collection the magazine also contained quite a bit of aviation history and modelling-related material. Relatively superficial as forced by the limited space, but still data, profiles and often even three-view plans that encouraged further exploration. For some years Pilot even ran an inofficial Swedish championship in modelling based on photographs readers sent in of their models. There did not seem to be any cooperation between Pilot and IPMS, possibly their target groups were not considered to overlap, IPMS being for adults rather than the mainly tween audience of Pilot.
And then of course, regular competitions in which I won stuff every now and then, my Fritz von Flaxen keyring still dangles from the lamp on my modelling table…
Well, there they are, and at the top of my “unbuilt” stack waits a major conversion project inspired by plans in issue 13/1977, expect further reports.