May 8, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
The T-Craft Aero Club, based in Nampa, Idaho, started in 1975 with 20 members and two aircraft.
The club got its name from the Taylorcraft, which was one of the early airplanes in the fleet, said Membership/Safety Director Jim Hudson. “We are 503(c)(7) non-profit. The club members are joint owners of our aircraft, hangar, and facilities,” he said.
The club is now at 68 members and six aircraft, said Hudson. The fleet includes six Cessnas: a 182Q, a 182P, a 182H, two 172Ms, and a 152.
There are two classes of membership for those joining the club, said Hudson. “We have Class I for our C152 and C172s, Class II for [other] aircraft. The initial buy into the club is $500 for Class I and $800 for Class II,” he said. “It’s a one-time buy in when the member joins. If a member leaves in good standing after two years, they get back 75 percent of their join fee.”
Monthly club dues are $127, but $70 of it is a credit for one hour in the 152, which serves as an incentive to fly at least once a month, said Hudson. “If not flown, the credit is forfeited. We call it use-it-or-lose-it,” he said. “We are proposing a family membership in which the monthly dues are $25 for each additional family member for up to two family members. The buy-in and hourly rates are the same.”
Club rates, wet, are Cessna 182s, $121 an hour; Cessna 172s, $80 an hour; and Cessna 152, $57 an hour.
The club’s instructors work as independent CFIs, but are approved by the board to instruct in club aircraft, said Hudson. “Most instructors charge $40 an hour for primary instruction. Based on a conscientious student who flies at least two times a week with 55 hours of total flight time, we estimate the total cost including membership and six months of dues, training materials, and test fees at $7,800 in the C152 or $9,000 in C172,” he said. “We have 14 instructors approved to instruct in our club and currently eight students working on private, and two or three working on instrument.”
Among the club’s activities are monthly membership meetings, monthly safety meetings, a biannual airplane wash and barbecue, and an annual fly-in camp/breakfast at a grass strip, Garden Valley Airport, said Hudson. “At the Garden Valley fly-in, we have a dinner for those who camp overnight, a breakfast, spot landing, flour bomb dropping contests and this year we will add balloon popping contest. We have a real fun club,” he said.
“Idaho has some of the most beautiful backcounty airstrips and dude ranches in the county,” said Hudson. “We have a backcountry policy in the club and training to allow our members access to these strips and breathtaking mountain flying experiences.”
Hudson advised those wishing to start a flying club to research several existing clubs that have been around for a long time. “Review the by-laws, operating policies and model the new club from what you think would work in your situation,” he said.
The T-Craft Aero Club has put together a nice display booth and information brochures that it uses to present at aviation and nonaviation events, said Hudson. “We also get lots of new member leads from our web page. Word of mouth from existing members to friends and associates is also a good way to grow,” he said.
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