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July 16, 2013
Crossroads Flying Club based at Double Eagle Airport (KAEG) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, isn’t for everybody. It’s a small club in which members pay a high equity stake to gain access to two high-performance aircraft—a 250-hp Socata Trinidad TB20 and a 300-hp, six-seat Piper Lance. Club President Bob Rausch explains how the club works and why it’s a great alternative to owning your own aircraft.
Crossroads Flying Club
Double Eagle Airport (KAEG), Albuquerque, NM
1985 Socata Trinidad TB20 ($50/hr)
1976 PA-32 Lance ($50/hr)
Rates are tach hours, dry.
$12,000 equity share
$290 per month
Custom Online Scheduler
How is the club organized?
The club is a cooperative and the cooperative owns the airplanes. All the members buy into the cooperative with equity. If someone wants to leave the club they sell their equity to an incoming member.
What is the equity buy-in?
The current equity for the airplanes that we have on our books is $12,000. Now if we get more members we can reduce that. When somebody sells their membership they are able to sell it at whatever they are able to get. Most people try to sell it for what they paid for it, but they’re able to sell it for whatever they want to.
We’re in the process of growing our membership. The new members will just pay the cooperative an equal share for joining the club. That gives you the right to fly the airplanes. And the money goes into our annual equity fund.
If you do expand your members, how does that effect the members that already paid $12,000? Do they get a refund?
That would be up to the board. We could either keep the equity high and use the extra money for aircraft improvements or return of some of that equity to the existing members to reduce the equity costs for everybody. We have the ability to do any combination.
What are your monthly dues?
$290. The monthly dues pay all of our fixed costs—aircraft financing, hangars, insurance, and we have an annual reserve as well for both airplanes.
How much does it cost to fly per hour?
Right now when somebody wants to fly, they pay $50 an hour dry, so they can buy gas wherever they want to and they pay whatever rate they can get. The hourly rate pays for our annual reserves primarily and a little bit goes to maintenance that might come up, so that builds up our maintenance pot. That takes care of our 100-hour [inspections] and our maintenance reserves.
You have interesting aircraft. How were they selected and how long have you had them?
Up to about seven or eight years ago, there was only one airplane, they had a Mooney. They sold that and they bought the Trinidad. And then at some point in time they picked up the Lance as well.
They’re both high performance, complex aircraft that give us a lot of capability. Our club is really different from a lot of the clubs that I’ve read about in the Club Connector in that our club has a small membership, so it’s much more intimate, it has much more of a family feel to it. And the airplanes are used mostly for business or family travel with a little bit of proficiency, as opposed to the larger clubs that are more of an alternative to renting from an FBO.
Where are some of the places the members have gone?
Personally, I have business around the state of New Mexico, so I use it to fly around the state and I’ve taken a plane to Las Vegas on vacations. We’ve had the Lance and the Trinidad as far as Florida and the East Coast, Texas, and up to the Dakotas. So they’ve been all over the country. We’re very liberal. A person could take the airplane out for up to two weeks, regardless of how much they fly it.
Do they have to pay a daily minimum?
They just pay for the flight time. Most folks don’t take it that long, but we have that capability.
Do most of the members have families that need the six seats of the Lance?
Yes, I would say so. The Lance is sort of like our SUV. We can put four people in there and take it anywhere. We usually fly with half tanks at this high altitude so weight isn’t a problem for loading it up. And when we get to the East Coast we can put more fuel in it. Even with half tanks, we’ve got three hours of capability, so it’s a great aircraft for long distance.
The Trinidad is more of our sports car type of airplane. Some guys will take it on trips, but it’s more local flying. Just weekends and things like that.
What are your pilot requirements?
We don’t have anything written down as to minimum time or qualifications. It’s more of that the club looks at applications and makes its decision. Probably the biggest determination is what the insurance company will take. Many times the insurance company will say, ‘OK they can be a member of the club, but they have to a check out program, so many hours dual in each airplane before they can fly solo.’
Do you have an instructor in the club?
We have two instructors—one CFI and one CFII, so it works out really well.
How does your insurance work?
We’re with USAIG insurance. When we apply we give them the history of the applicant and they come back and determine whether there is a check out or not. For me, I was a high-time Air Force pilot so I just had one flight each with an instructor and they were happy with that. For a lower time people that came in, they had to have 10 hours dual in each airplane, and that was no problem.
For the members that are new to these aircraft, did they have any problems transitioning to these aircraft?
I think just about everybody that joined the club had complex time, maybe not high performance. It just worked out that way. Even our lower time pilots have got some of that time. We’re not really taking people that just got their license.
Do all your members have their IFR ratings?
No, of the 12, probably six are IFR capable; the other six are VFR pilots. And some of them are working on their ticket with our CFII.
Tell me more about the membership. Being smaller and more intimate did you know each other prior to joining the club?
I was introduced to the club through a couple of members that were also in my rotary club. They found out that I was also a pilot and they said I ought to check out their club. And that led to me joining. People pretty much come in and grow into the club.
It’s a very diverse membership, which makes it nice. There are lots of different experiences and backgrounds from somebody with no military history and relatively new to flying, less than 200 hours total but with an IFR ticket, to our maintenance officer, who is probably our senior guy, with lots of Air Force time. He’s an aerospace engineer. Then we have other folks who are very high time, either military or non-military. We’ve got several people with military backgrounds, including myself. I’ve got a fighter background, we’ve got another gentleman with a cargo background and a couple of Air Force undergraduate pilot training instructors. So it's a very diverse membership.
How much turnover do you have in terms of membership?
Since I’ve been in the club in three years, I think we’ve had three members leave and be replaced, and we have two members that would like to sell their membership currently. We’re soliciting very heavily for people to buy those memberships. Because of the size of the club and the type of equipment and the cost, we don’t have the larger market that the larger clubs have with a smaller or no buy in, but higher hourly rates.
How do you find new members?
It’s a lot of word of mouth. We all keep our ears open to people we run into for people that fly. We advertise on the Internet extensively. It’s set up that if someone Google’s “aircraft ownership” we’ll pop up there as an alternative to ownership, which I think is our biggest draw—people that are thinking about buying an airplane. It’s a real good alternative to owning an airplane, as opposed to renting from an FBO. We’ve got two or three members who used to own airplanes that sold them and joined the club.
What type of board do you have?
There are six members on the board—President, Vice President, Treasurer, Ops Officer, Secretary and the Maintenance Officer. They are elected annually and there is no term limit.
Does the club do a lot of social events of fly-outs?
That’s something that I’m trying to promote as the president. We don’t do many fly-outs because of the size of the club. It’s seldom that we have everybody that has time off at the same time. Our real social events are our meetings. Every month we meet at a different member’s house and we have our meetings over dinner at somebody’s house. It’s a real social event and we’ve got a real family feel to our club, which I really like.
One thing I’ve tried to communicate is how pleasant it is to be a member. We communicate a lot. It’s not unusual that every time someone brings an airplane back from a flight they shoot an email to everybody saying what they’re experience was, what happened with the airplane. So we’re very tuned into the conditions of the airplanes all the time. There are very few times when you go out to an airplane and find a surprise. We’re very proud of how we maintain our airplanes.
Has the club always been geared toward a higher-end membership and a higher-end pilot?
Yes. I think they’ve had a 182 at one time, a Mooney. They’ve all been high performance airplanes. So that’s been the culture of Crossroads.
It seems that you’re marketing to a different audience than the pilot looking for a cheap aircraft rental, that you are looking for members who are looking for an alternative to ownership.
Absolutely. That’s our differentiator.
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