May 27, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
The Tahoe Flying Club was formed in September 2013 because no clubs served pilots in the Truckee, Calif., area, according to Matt Michael, the club's president.
“I didn’t even know if there was a need for a club when I took the first steps to put it together,” said Michael. “I went to the local EAA chapter pancake breakfast and asked if anyone there was interested in joining a club based at Truckee Airport.”
Breakfast attendees contacted Michael, who said they were not only interested, but also said there was a need for a club. In getting started, he said, people recommended using AOPA’s information on how to start a flying club.
“One of our members is a lawyer, who was a great resource. Two other members were entrepreneurs, so they helped out with the official mechanics of getting started, especially when it came to incorporation,” said Michael. “Our biggest resources were our members and their unique skill sets.”
The club currently has 10 members, and operates as a 501(c)(7), said Michael. “We are still looking to purchase our first aircraft. But our local fixed-base operator, Sierra Aero, has been very supportive from the very beginning,” he said. “Sierra has a Cessna 172 that they can’t put on the line because they can’t make the numbers work. But we’re now working with [them] to find a way to get that aircraft flying for the club."
Since the club doesn’t have an aircraft, there is currently no buy-in, said Michael. “Dues are $50 a month, and they are being used to build our reserves,” he said. “One of our members is a CFI and holds that position on the club’s board. He’ll be in charge of setting qualifications for our pilots to fly the aircraft and be checked out.”
To keep pilots active, the club regularly brings in guest speakers and holds discussions on interesting aviation-related topics, said Michael. “One of our guest speakers will be Kevin Quinn, a popular back country pilot who uses his Cessna Skywagon to visit old mines in Nevada,” he said.
The club is also working with the Tahoe Truckee Airport District to help with talks about airport procedures, noise abatement, and mountain flying, said Michael. “We’ll also help man the Redbird simulator at the airport on Truckee Thursdays, an event that promotes local businesses.”
Although the Tahoe Flying Club is young, Michael has advice for those also trying to form a club. “We’re not even a year old. The best thing is to not get down, because there will be times where it seems daunting to find members and get an aircraft,” he said. “You need to do marketing to get the word out.”
The Tahoe Flying Club did a marketing blitz and got potential members to attend our informational meeting, said Michael. “Get a Facebook page, a website, and put flyers at airport,” he said. “Then the word of mouth starts, and members come.
“We realized that there was a need for the club in the region. We had folks coming from Reno, which is an hour away, so we’re drawing from the region. We only have 10 members, but people are waiting for us to get our first aircraft. I have a feeling that as soon as we get going, we’ll have 24 members.”
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
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