June 5, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
Paul Koziol and his wife, Vicki, founded the Discover Aviation Center at Ohio’s Lorain County Regional Airport in January 2013 after taking over a donated hangar. In November 2013, they formed the DAC Flying Club, designed to introduce aviation, especially to youths, in the region.
“We got our airplane in December and the club went online in January, which isn’t a great time in Ohio,” Koziol said.
The club was needed in the region, said Koziol. “People who don’t know they may have a passion for aviation need to find it out. Without an affordable means to do so, general aviation will get worse. So forming this club was a basic need to save GA,” he said. “Pilots are good at telling people not to do it because it’s too expensive instead of finding ways to get people excited about flying.”
Koziol said that when he learned to fly in the 1990s, people were very proactive about GA. “But now, it’s a hard battle when your own [aviation] family doesn’t see the need to promote itself.”
Discover Aviation Center’s hangar was used as collateral to get the club started, said Koziol. “I researched and called a lot of insurance companies. I copied our rules and bylaws off the Internet, read through AOPA [Flying Club Network] materials and personalized everything for our needs,” he said. “Our vision was to create a safety and social culture that was more than just a flying club.”
On May 10, the club got its tenth member, said Koziol. The club aircraft is a 1963 Cessna 172D. The buy-in, at $500, is refundable after 12 months. The monthly fee is $100, and the hourly rate (Hobbs time) is $75 wet. The club also offers social membership of $20 a month.
The club holds monthly meeting, where it offers safety courses, some of which members can earn Wings credits, said Koziol. “But we’re so new, there’s still a few things we’re going to have to learn by experience.”
The group had its first Discover Aviation Day May 24 and 25. The event included aircraft performers, hundreds of aircraft on display, and paid ride opportunities. This summer, the club plans to host barbecues every Friday at the hangar, and will do fly-outs.
“What makes us so successful is [that] we want everyone to fly safely and feel confident,” he said. ‘We build that strength through education, so members will fly more,” said Koziol. “People got scared, wrote a 'Never Again' story and never came back to flying. We want people to make decisions based on experience and what they’ve learned through the club.”
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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