April 1, 2013
By Chris Lawler
AOPA’s Flying Club Network is designed to provide information-sharing resources and support to clubs throughout the country. The Network’s vision is to expand the flying club community and we are beginning to see results.
We recently had an exciting Facebook post in the flying club group from a new club in Alabama, the 51st Aero Squadron. The club is an equity club with 12 members and a Piper Archer that has just started operations. Congratulations! As a way to celebrate when a new club is formed, I am now the keeper of a gong to ring when we receive the good news. This gong will become a prominent part of the club community as it represents a way to recognize the success happening in the community. The gong still needs a name to reflect its purpose. If you have an idea, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Depending on the number of choices received, I may run a poll in next month’s newsletter to give you, our clubs, the opportunity to make the difficult decision.
The Network is also beginning to show positive results for established clubs. I recently spoke with Bob Reed of York Travelers in central Pennsylvania. He leads a club with one aircraft. Unfortunately, the membership level had fallen to three members, and Bob was ready to list the aircraft for sale on Barnstormers. He mentioned that two people found the club on the AOPA flying club finder recently and contacted him about joining the York Travelers. Because of this resource available through the Network the club is continuing operations. Before the AOPA Flying Club Network, the club had advertised for 10 years through various aviation publications with limited results.
The next time the gong rings it will be for Monticello Flyers located in Charlottesville, Virginia, unless someone beats them to it. The club is a few paperwork steps away from beginning operations with a Cessna 172.
We will continue to add resources to the Network, but right now it is showing that the club community is strong, and AOPA will continue to lead the way towards growing this community. I recently had the opportunity to visit with clubs around the Chicago area as part of a President’s Town Hall meeting. We had a small BBQ at the American Flyers facility and had a great turnout. This event further reinforced to me that the flying club community is a strong and vibrant part of the aviation community.
The Network will continue to grow, and the examples above illustrate that we are having success in starting and growing flying clubs. Longer term, the Network will have resources available that will make this process easier and the unnamed gong will be ringing more. If your club is not yet listed in the Flying Club Finder database or a part of the Network, AOPA staff members are available at email@example.com to assist in adding your club to the Network.
The Senate has joined the effort to expand the FAA's third-class medical exemption to more pilots and aircraft.
The International Society of Women Airline Pilots champions and supports women in the cockpit.
The Tucson Soaring Club is trying to grow the sport by training the next generation of glider pilots.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.