The oldest clubs in the United States were founded well before World War II, and they have introduced thousands of people to the fun and camaraderie of flying. As the general aviation industry seeks to reverse rising costs and diminishing pilot numbers, flying clubs offer a piece of the puzzle: They offer affordability, community, quality instruction, and an entry point to aviation.
A traditional flying club is a member-run organization that provides affordable access to aircraft but does not seek to make a profit. There are about 600 of these clubs in the United States. The “average” club has operated for around 40 years, flies about four aircraft, and has roughly 50 members. There is, however, significant variation in the kinds of clubs across the country. Almost half of all clubs operate just one or two aircraft and have fewer than 30 members, while several very large clubs have dozens of aircraft and almost 1,000 members.
If you are considering flying lessons, find out if there is a flying club in your area. Give them a call and ask if you can join as a flight student. Not only will you get the training you need, but you will have a built-in support system that is an invaluable asset in learning to fly. The club may also offer aviation-related social activities.
AOPA has a lot of information on flying clubs on its web site. Check out the resources in the related links below.