March 10, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
The Tucson Soaring Club, formed in November 1967 at Ryan Field with 25 charter members, focuses on promoting the sport and training the next generation of glider pilots. It currently has 110 members, with 25 members who are inactive, said Ron Olson, who handles flight operations.
In 1983, the club moved to Marana Number 5 Auxiliary Field, a facility used during World War II. The members cleared the brush for runways and built the hangars.
The club has 10 aircraft, including three two-place Grob 103s and a two-place Politechnika Warszawska PW-6U; four single-place aircraft (two Schempp-Hirth Standard Cirruses, a Politechnika Warszawska PW-5, and a Schweizer SGS 1-34), and two Piper Pawnee towplanes. “We also have a dozen private owners,” said Olson.
Joining the club requires a $400 initiation fee, the first month’s dues of $65, and $64 for a one-year membership in the Soaring Society of America. Family memberships cost $32.50 for each additional family member. “We also offer a three-flight introductory package for $250, of which $100 can be applied toward membership,” said Olson. Youth and student memberships cost $32.50 a month.
Club aircraft are available to members at no additional cost, and tows cost $1.20 per 100 feet plus a $2 fuel surcharge. “Our youngest guy was an Air Force cadet, and it goes up to guys in their 70s and everything in between,” he said. It currently has around 20 students made up of college students and people in their 40s or 50s who want to learn how to fly, he added.
The club stays active in the Tucson community, doing everything from a yearly aviation camp for Boy Scouts to doing flights for the disabled, said Olson. “We have one glider with a hand control, so we’ve done events with the Wounded Warriors,” he said. “We go to the Cactus Fly-In in Casa Grande, and do a show-and-tell about gliders.”
Olson advises those wanting to start a club to research and see how other clubs have succeeded —and failed. “The Soaring Society of America has all kinds of people to help direct new clubs,” he said. “You also need to encourage young people by taking a ride with a friend or club member. Share the sport.”
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
Pilot Youth and Introductory,
One of the things common in people who restore things – aircraft, automobiles, or antiques – is a love for the process of breathing new life into a dream forgotten years ago. AOPA Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda talks about how restoring his 50-year old BMW motorcycle is similar to reigniting the spark in pilots who’s flying has lapsed. Learn more about how your flying club could host a Rusty Pilot Clinic to get pilots back in the cockpit and possibly generate new members for your club.
The Cessna 150 has been used to teach pilots to fly for decades and is still going strong. It is durable, simple to fly to and inexpensive to operate. It may not be fancy, but most pilots have a soft spot for this reliable little trainer. Pocono Mountains Flying Club President Paul Houle shares how his club is creating new pilots with the venerable Cessna 150.
With spring around the corner, we know the winds will be gusting. Besides practicing your tie down knots, Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda asked on the AOPA Facebook Flying Club Page how do you keep your members engaged when it’s just too windy to fly safely? Although it seems like a few club members have cabin fever and can’t wait for spring, there are several good ideas worth checking out.
VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN NEAR YOU!
SHARE YOUR PASSION. VOLUNTEER AT AN AOPA FLY-IN. CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
VOLUNTEER LOCALLY AT AOPA FLY-IN! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>
BE A PART OF THE FLY-IN VOLUNTEER CREW! CLICK TO LEARN MORE >>>