July 19, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
The International Flying Club, based at DuPage Airport in West Chicago, was founded in 1975. The club prides itself on offering members low costs to fly and minimal dues, thanks to its nonprofit 501 (c)(7) status.
The club is managed and operated by members, said President Chris McHarg. “By taking an active role in maintenance, minimizing overhead costs, building camaraderie, and sharing club expenses, we collectively are able to keep flying affordable, safe, and enjoyable,” he said. “The club has always been fortunate to have many members willing to volunteer and share responsibilities. We strive to keep things simple and efficient.”
The club’s application fee is only $100, which greatly reduces the initial financial hurdle for prospective new club members, said McHarg. “There is also no equity buy-in when joining the club. By keeping our dues reasonably low, the club is an attractive option to students, occasional flyers, as well as very active pilots.”
The club currently has a Cessna 152, Piper Warrior, and Piper Arrow II, all offered at very economical rates with convenient online scheduling, said McHarg. “Each club plane has a standard panel equipped for IFR and there are some navigational upgrades like DME, GPS, and autopilot,” he said. “The fleet provides a good balance between training aircraft and pleasure flights.”
There are about 10 pilots per airplane, which is great for availability, McHarg added. “Flying discounts are offered to club members who help with aircraft maintenance, to student pilots, and for block payments,” he said.
Dues are broken down into four categories: Bronze owns no aircraft equity, no rights to use aircraft, and may fly with other members; Silver owns no aircraft equity, and has rights to only use the Cessna and Piper Warrior; Gold owns no aircraft equity, but has rights to use the Cessna, Piper Warrior, and Arrow; and Platinum owns equity in the aircraft, along with rights to use Cessna, Piper Warrior, and Arrow.
The cost is $10 a month for Bronze; $30 a month for Silver; $40 a month for Gold; and $30 to 40 a month for Platinum. There is also a $15 a month social membership. The dues mainly cover aircraft insurance, tie-downs, and club activities, and each member is considered to be a named pilot on the club insurance policy, which gives everyone full liability coverage, said McHarg.
Aircraft rental rates are $82 an hour Hobbs wet for all membership classes or $78 an hour for students for the Cessna 152; $96 an hour Hobbs wet for all membership classes or $91 an hour for students for the Piper Warrior; and $142 an hour Tach wet for Platinum and Gold membership classes for the Piper Arrow. Student discounts are available in the Piper Warrior and the Cessna 152, at $5 and $4 an hour, respectively.
The International Flying Club schedules monthly gatherings, publishes newsletters, presents safety meetings, and plans fly-out events for members and guests. “We feel the social aspects are a vital part of a successful and vibrant club,” said McHarg. “The regularly organized fly-outs are a great way to stay current and active.”
The club maintains a website, a mailing list, and a presence on social media for those who are searching for a local flying club, just want to stay in touch with club happenings, connecting pilots to share rides, planning a quick trip, or looking for safety pilots.
Club members include experienced instructors who have a strong commitment to high-quality training and keeping pilots proficient, current, and flying safe, said McHarg. Members also include A&P mechanics that oversee and guide maintenance activities, he added.
“By leveraging all the talents and resources that members bring into the club, we are able to offer exceptional value to the flying community and enable pilots and aviation enthusiasts to stay engaged with their passion,” said McHarg. “Anything we can do to keep eyes focused skyward helps general aviation stay strong and growing.”
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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