Answers for Pilots: Introducing AOPA's Guide to Starting a Flying Club

March 17, 2014

choice of good aircraftWith the warmer weather and longer days, most pilots are turning their attention to flying. Perhaps you wish you flew more often, but the aircraft you rent is always booked. Or maybe, it’s just too expensive to fly as much as you would like. These are good reasons for starting a flying club. If you’ve thought about the idea, but haven’t been sure of what’s involved, AOPA has developed a guide, "AOPA's Guide to Starting a Flying Club," that identifies the most important aspects to consider when bringing a club from an initial idea to fully operating club.

This is a helpful new tool that will steer members through the critical steps of starting a club. Each chapter in the guide covers a specific topic of interest from how to choose the right aircraft to insurance considerations. In fact, the chapter on insurance gives a broad overview of what drives the cost of insurance and details on how AOPA Insurance Services can guide you in obtaining the type of coverage your club needs for the kinds of flying you plan to do. The guide also presents a collection of sample documents, forms, and other useful resources, like sample operating rules and aircraft lease agreements.

The Federal Aviation Administration provides guidance for flying clubs in two documents. The Advisory Circular (AC) 00-25: Forming and Operating a Flying Club was last updated in 1969, yet in spite of its date, remains valid. It was compiled “to provide preliminary information to ‘flight-minded’ men and women who wish to form and operate a flying club.” The second FAA document is FAA Order 5190.6b: FAA Airport Compliance Manual, in particular section 10.6, which is included in the Appendix of the online document. This section is important for clubs that plan to operate on airports that are subject to assurances made by airport sponsors in return for receiving federal funds.

You might want to check out the cost comparison in Chapter 2 between a 12-member club and an individual aircraft owner. Bottom line is the total yearly fixed costs for each of the club members is $1,050, while the yearly fixed costs for the individual aircraft owner is $9,820. That’s pretty impressive!

Also included is a table comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the various legal forms of organization, i.e.: unincorporated association, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. Another section discusses possible club revenue and expenses, and provides a basic sample budget to get you started thinking along those lines.

A chapter on insurance provides guidance on what drives the cost of insurance, as well as offering descriptions of the various kinds of insurance to help you decide what coverage would be best in your situation.

A discussion of club operations, including aircraft management provides helpful tips and a table of online accounting and scheduling programs provides links to the various programs. There are many helpful programs that can ease much of the work in tracking aircraft use and maintaining an updated aircraft schedule that’s available to all club members with web access.

And finally, the guide includes sample documents, such as Articles of Incorporation, and By-laws and Operating Rules reprinted with permission from a few successful clubs.

And, as always, if you have questions, give the aviation technical specialists at AOPA a call, 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672), Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. We would be very happy to help you.