In June 2020, Fernand François, Avianews founder and publisher very elegantly described his magazine’s history in a guest article published in Resilient Aviation (Blue Sky):
“Since I was a young boy I was fascinated by aircraft. The owner of a castle near my parents’ house regularly made aerobatic flights in an SV4 Stampe biplane over our garden.
After attending the Académie des Beaux Arts in Brussels, and rewarded with a commercial artist’s diploma, I embarked on a career in marketing and was lucky to swiftly set up my own advertising company in Belgium. In 1969 I combined my salary and a loan from the bank and started private flying lessons at general aviation airfield Grimbergen EBGB in Belgium.
Private aviation was in its infancy then and flying clubs and pilot schools were struggling to survive. That’s when I came up with the idea to launch a two-colour newsletter called Avianews. The print edition would be funded by the advertising from the flying schools, but I also succeeded in rallying support from local aviation related businesses - the early FBOs, small aircraft maintenance shops, etc. Around the same time, May 1973, I was fortunate to buy my first aircraft.
After a few months, Avianews evolved into Avianews International, a full colour magazine with two editions, published in English and French, covering air transport, military aviation, and defence and space technology. I was publisher and editor. It sold at news-stands and libraries in France and Belgium. Budgets were abundant back them and aviation publishing flourished until the end of the Cold War (1991) and the fall of the Berlin Wall. But then aviation magazines in France and Europe including Switzerland’s long standing monthly Interavia, a monthly bible since 1946, shut down. I sold Avianews to a Brussels printer who never paid me and went bankrupt after his first issue! I was left with no money - but at least I kept solvent.
Ever the optimist, I promptly went out and ordered business cards: “Fernand Francois - Aviation Consultant". I got my first consulting project with help from Abelag Aviation at Brussels Airport. ...”
Fernand François later became CEO of EBAA (European Business Aviation Association) and published the very successful business aviation magazine BART.