David Higdon Dies At 73


Longtime journalist and aviation writer David J. Higdon, Jr., has died from unspecified causes at his home in Wichita, Kansas. He was 73.

Dave often described himself as “an ink-stained wretch,” belying his chosen profession: journalism. That he was successful is evidenced by the mainstream and aviation-specific titles he wrote for over the years.

An incomplete list of his former and current outlets includes The Journal of Commerce, The Wichita Eagle, Glider Rider, sister publications Kitplanes and Aviation Safety, AvBuyer, Avionics News and, in its early days, AVweb. For many years, he also worked as both managing editor and staff photographer for AirVenture Today, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s daily newspaper during the annual fly-in.

A U.S. Navy veteran, he served aboard nuclear submarines during the Cold War. He was an avid motorcyclist, skydiver and, of course, an instrument-rated private pilot. His total time aloft is unknown, thanks to starting his flying career in hang gliders. Over the years, he flew many new and upgraded airplanes, writing pilot reports for his publishers.

Before he stopped actively flying, he had owned two Pipers, a Cherokee 140 and a Comanche 180, both of which he flew for personal and business transportation throughout the U.S., plus to Mexico and the Cayman Islands. His love for aviation continued unabated, however, and he leaves behind an unfinished Sonex Waiex light sport airplane kit.

Dave was a member of the Quiet Birdmen, an organization of experienced pilots in which he actively participated. He was a co-founder of the general aviation podcast Uncontrolled Airspace, on which he often shared with listeners his joy and love for aviation, plus a wide variety of ways to reduce their flying expenses. He also was an avid mentor to pilots, writers and photographers alike, and always had encouragement for fledglings in those endeavors.

His beloved wife and soulmate, Annie Best, preceded him in death, as did Charlotte, their Golden Retriever mix. Survivors include children from a previous marriage, his daughter Heather and son Timothy.

Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside
Jeb Burnside is the editor-in-chief of Aviation Safety magazine. He’s an airline transport pilot who owns a Beechcraft Debonair, plus the expensive half of an Aeronca 7CCM Champ.

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  1. Dave was one of the good ones. No, one of the best ones. I will miss his ironic smile and twangy drawl.

  2. Although I’ve never met Dave, I feel like I lost an old friend today. I got to know Dave through the UCAP podcast and considered him a kindred spirit. He will truly be missed by all.