Craig Fuller, the founder and CEO of FreightWaves, acquired Flying, the world’s most widely read aviation publication from Bonnier Corporation. The American enthusiast publisher has owned Flying for over a decade. Flying is a 94-year-old lifestyle publication that focuses on pilots and aviation.

Inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s successful solo Atlantic crossing, William B. Ziff Sr. launched Popular Aviation 90 years ago. It became Flying. Photos: Flying

The acquisition was announced at the annual EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the largest air show in the world. 

“I have been flying since the age of 13, and Flying has been my guide through that journey over the past few decades,” Fuller said. “Today, I have the opportunity to blend two passions I have – aviation and media.”

Craig Fuller, the new owner of Flying, with his ICON A5

“As a pilot, the chance to own Flying is the equivalent to buying the Yankees for a baseball fan. I have big plans for Flying and will continue to build on the media brand that has been around since the year Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic.” 

Flying provides the editorial record for pilots of all levels. The publication provides the most extensive coverage of aircraft and equipment found anywhere. It offers information that’s critical for pilots, including:

Aviation news
Stories around experiences and adventures from pilots 
Equipment reviews 
Safety and training information
Regulatory updates 

Fuller plans to expand the editorial and production staff and has an ambitious plan for digital media, including investments in the online and mobile platforms, with a bigger focus on aviation photography, podcasts and streaming video.

Flying has a print readership of 160,000 per issue and 410,000 monthly visitors to the website. It also has a large social media presence. The brand has nearly 450,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Fuller believes there is a big opportunity to grow Flying. With more than 240,000 pilots in the U.S. and 74,000 new pilot certificates issued every year, the general aviation sector is an important part of the economy. It contributes more than $247 billion to U.S. GDP and employs 273,000 across the country. 

When you add commercial aviation to the mix, the sector generates more than $850 billion to the U.S. economy and employs more than 4 million people. Globally, the financial impact is closer to $2.7 trillion. 

There’s also a massive transformation under way, with electrification and urban air mobility on the horizon. Electrification allows for a whole new set of technologies and experiences that will transform urban centers and redefine personal transportation. Morgan Stanley estimates that by 2040, Urban Air Mobility will be a $1 trillion industry in the U.S. By 2050, that number is expected to grow to $9 trillion, approximately the size of the entire global logistics industry today. 

Flying will stay focused on what it means to be a pilot, doubling down on the journey and adventure of being able to fly a plane. But there are plans to create dedicated sections for student, hobbyist and professional pilots. There will also be a focus on technology and business news in the aviation industry. 

Fuller’s plan also includes additional coverage of market innovations and disruptions. That coverage will be known as Modern Flying, a brand that will be dedicated to the future of aviation. 

Fuller knows how to create a successful cutting-edge digital media brand. FreightWaves, just four years old, is the number 1 provider of media content to the $9.6 trillion global freight and logistics industry. 

Often referred to as the “Bloomberg of freight,” FreightWaves provides real-time market intelligence, analysis and news on the movement of cargo around the world. The 50 journalists and analysts who work for the company create more than 40 articles and host more than six hours of streaming video and audio content per day on the company’s platform. All of the content is focused on transportation news and developments.  

Fuller has raised $92 million from some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors and media executives. He plans on replicating the success of FreightWaves with Flying

Flying will be completely separate from FreightWaves. Fuller will own most of Flying, but with additional capital raised from outside investors. The Flying platform will be separate from FreightWaves, as will its management, editorial and commercial teams. 

“While the focus of Flying is far different from what we do at FreightWaves, we can take the same approach in terms of digital content and technology and offer a best-in-class media offering for pilots and aviation professionals around the world,” Fuller said. 

“We want to blend the historical content and audience connection with a digital media future.”

Fuller says he plans to build Flying into a large media company, but one he doesn’t plan to sell. It’s a passion project and one he is very excited about. 

Fuller with his son floating down the river in his ICON A5

“As a pilot, airplane owner and father of five, I’ve found that there’s no bonding experience like being alone in the air with one of your kids,” he said. “Flying provides that. I’m excited that I now have a business that’s directly tied into something that I can share with the next generation.”