Before the internet if you wanted detailed information the only way to get it was to get it in print. That meant it was often hard to find what you needed, but it did mean that there was space for an impressive range of speciality publications, angled not just at specialties but sub-sets within those specialties.
For example as well as mags about the aerospace industry (Flight International), airlines in general (Airliners, Airways), monthly mixed type mags (Air Illustrated, Air Pictorial), and general aviation there were also magazines aimed just at the monthly ever changing landscape of the airline fleets themselves.
Spotting registration encyclopaedias like JP Airline Fleets and Civil Aviation Markings were of course the bible of any spotter but the aviation market changed way too rapidly for simply an annual book, and besides they rarely had any images in them.
Into this niche of detailed fleet, livery and route updates strode World Airline Fleet News, taking over from its earlier incarnation Airline Data News.
World Airline Fleets News (1987-2011)
WAFNews had its first edition on July 1st 1987 and was edited for its entire run by Ricky-Dene Halliday. The monthly magazine tookover from the former smaller title Airline Data News and was published by the Aviation Data Centre in the UK. The earliest issues would feature extra content focusing on something like the charter programme in 1987 or island hopping aircraft to the Channel islands, but quickly the mag focused on its true calling - changes in the airline fleets.
Every month, every single aircraft fleet change was detailed exhaustively, along with route changes, mergers and bankruptcies. Photos were provided from enthusiasts around the world illustrating aircraft wearing new liveries or from unusual locations. At first only the six images in the centre pages, plus the front and back covers, were in colour but as the 90s went by the magazine transitioned to more colour shots.
A key feature of the magazine were the fleet update lists going through every airliner that was added, updated or deleted from the global register. Alongside the images and text updates, referencing livery changes, routes and orders, the whole magazine was chocker with data.
In January 1999, issue 135, the mag replaced its old white look with a new blue one and finally moved to an all colour format. The quality and level of detail in each issue remains very impressive. The only drawback to the format is that it is practically impossible to use the magazine for reference unless you know exactly which month you are looking for. With so much detail it is simply impossible to provide any kind of index of the contents.
Obviously with no actual written articles and just including news WAFNews was in trouble with the coming of the internet. Photo sites like Airliners.net attracted the images in almost real time and news was reported widely across the web. Subscription numbers fell and it seemed the magazine was doomed when after issue 219 in June 2006 the next issue failed to materialize.
Mr Halliday kept it together somehow though and in December 2006 a bumper June-December issue appeared, now published by WAF News Ltd. The magazine got another redesign and chugged on as it had before. I’m not sure when the magazine finally ceased publication, but my last issue is number 259 from March 2010. Checking the web it appears the last issue may have been number 270 in February 2011.
WAFNews was an excellent publication serving an important niche, until the internet came along. Even then the magazine continued its high quality and remains a great way to spend time. I have most of the run until 2008 but am missing issues 31, 33, 34, 35, 36 and 226.
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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