March 31, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
The Dawn Patrol Flying Club, based in based Northville, Mich., was formed in 1960 at Canton-Plymouth-Mettetal Airport with the idea of offering social and affordable flying.
Joe Fortman, vice president of the club, isn’t sure of the origin of its name. “The story seems to have been lost through the years, but we kind of assume the original founders liked to find places to fly for breakfast on the weekends,” he said.
Fortman recounted the club's history, saying that in 1970 the club moved to Salem Airport where some members made advance hangar rent payments to help the owner pave the runway. “When Salem Airport was closed around 1983, the club moved to Willow Run for a short while, but then settled back at Mettetal,” he said. “At one time the club had four planes—a Cessna 150, [Cessna] 172 and two Mooney M20Fs. During the 1980s, the club dropped back to just two planes and we have been that way ever since.” Dawn Patrol currently has a 1976 Cessna 177B Cardinal and a 1975 Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
The club has 24 members, and operates as a nonprofit, said Fortman. “It was formed as a means to make flying more affordable and accessible, and be a social group rather than a business,” he said.
The Cardinal costs $91 an hour wet, while the Skyhawk is $79 an hour. Both charge by tach time. “We are an equity club so the buy-in is up to the member that sells,” said Fortman. One recently sold for around $2,900, he said, and monthly dues are $75.
The club requires a minimum of a private pilot’s certificate to join, said Fortman. “We meet once a month to go over matters, review finances, maintenance, potential upgrades, and share recent flying news,” he said. “Twice a year we hold a work day to wash and wax our planes and share some camaraderie.”
Fortman advises using existing resources to get the word out about a flying club.
“Go amongst friends and market both with paper flyers and online sites. Get to know the instructors at the local FBO so they can recommend the club to new pilots,” he said. “Take as many friends and acquaintances flying as possible. Be good stewards of club finances, keep improving airplanes.”
Make sure the club has a good screening process to ensure sure new members are a good fit, said Fortman. “They should also be able to take good care of the planes, since they will own a portion of them,” he said.
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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 >>>