October 14, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
The Pittsburgh Flying Club, based at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pa., and formed in 1957, credits its longevity to offering well-maintained aircraft at competitive hourly rates. The club got its name after originally being founded in Pittsburgh.
There are currently 20 members with 10 active flyers, said club president Frank Beresnyak. “But we’re always actively recruiting because there’s always room for more. I’ll stop marketing when I see lines behind our aircraft,” he said. The club owns a Piper Archer and has a Cessna 172 SP on leaseback.
The Pittsburgh Flying Club operates as a nonprofit 501(c)(7) organization. Monthly dues are $79 a month. “We’re an equity-based club, and charge $1,000 and a $50 application fee to own a share in our Piper Archer,” said Beresnyak.
The Piper is currently renting for $109 an hour wet, using tach time. “We get a break on fuel because of how much we buy. Sixty percent of our hourly rate is fuel,” said Beresnyak. Every fee collected by the club goes back into aircraft for maintenance and hangar fees, he added.
The club has a good core group of members, said Beresnyak. “We have a guy who handles our website. I do our Facebook page, and we have another member who does maintenance,” he said. “We also do demonstrations when we do things like an oil change.”
Members can also come to hangar hangouts, said Beresnyak. “We need to have these social events. Once you do that, then more resources become available to everyone,” he said.
Beresnyak advises clubs to find like-minded individuals who are enthusiastic. “You also need money. If you buy an aircraft, that’s probably one of the biggest barriers. Five guys can put in $5,000 a piece, but where will you get the rest of the money for a 172?” he asked. “It’s very hard to get a loan from a bank for a flying club for an aircraft.”
Shop around for insurance, said Beresnyak. “You can save 10 percent to 20 percent on the cost. Don’t sit on your laurels, continue to make it as economical as possible to fly,” he said.
Beresnyak also offers credit to the AOPA Flying Club Network’s Facebook group. “The Facebook group has been a great resource. Sometimes you feel like an island, but it’s nice to see that others have the same issues we do,” he said. “We also appreciate the AOPA Flying Club finder, a great tool for those looking for clubs.”
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
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