It was July 25, 2000, and Aviation Week had sent a large group of reporters to the Farnborough Airshow. Among them was European Bureau Chief Pierre Sparaco. Then the news spread at the show that an Air France Concorde had crashed just after takeoff in Paris. From that point on, Pierre ignored the air show and was hardly seen by his colleagues for the next few days, having locked himself in his hotel room with a computer and telephone to focus on the first extensive Concorde crash report in the magazine. Many more would follow over the next several months.

The accident was only one of many dramatic moments in aviation history that Sparaco has covered. His career in aviation journalism began in 1961, one year before the official launch of the Concorde program and early enough to be able to follow many of the other key developments in European aerospace: the early moves into large jet transports like the Dassault Mercure, the creation of Airbus, the A300, the oil crisis of the 1970s, the rise of Airbus in the 1980s and 1990s, the first flight of the A380. In June 2014, he was among a group of journalists on the first (non-revenue) passenger flight of the A350.

The list of topics that Sparaco covered in his numerous articles and books is seemingly endless. His immense knowledge of the industry extended well beyond France. Born in Belgium, he spent most of his life in Paris. During his career, he won widespread acclaim for his coverage of pan-European projects and his acknowledgment of the contributions of all the partners, be they from France, the U.K., Germany or Spain.

Sparaco’s many articles and admired books have made him famous among his colleagues and in the industry in general. He had the authority to stick to his views and be firm in his criticism when justified. He famously pointed out the urgent need for reform at Air France, which did not earn him many new friends at the airline over the years. His achievements earned him numerous awards, but in spite of his fame as one of the most important European aviation journalists, being in the spotlight did not seem to be his thing. Instead he was always the first to acknowledge the achievements of colleagues.

Sparaco began his career in aviation journalism at Air Revue. When his then-employer Aviation magazine was folded into Air & Cosmos in 1992, he joined Aviation Week & Space Technology’s Paris bureau. He was hired by then-Editor-in-Chief Donald E. Fink, who had been impressed by him when the two had competed during the six years Fink worked in Aviation Week's Geneva and Paris bureaus."The world of journalism, not just aerospace journalism, is poorer after the passing of Pierre," says Fink. "He was a consummate newsman with the highest standards. I admired Pierre as a person as well as one of the best reporters/writers on the staff."

Sparaco became Aviation Week's Paris Bureau Chief in 1996, directing coverage of French aerospace and European commercial aviation. He was later promoted to European bureau chief. Following his official retirement in 2005, he continued as a columnist writing his “Reality Check” column — which was initially named “A European Perspective” — until only a few weeks ago. His last big project was a biography of André Turcat, a famous test pilot who was in command for the first flight of Concorde.

Late last year Pierre was diagnosed with leukemia and then underwent cancer treatments. He died in hospital on August 3, in Aix-en-Provence. He was 75.