This “Question of the month” was submitted on the AOPA flying clubs Facebook Group by Jonathan Bradbury, president of the Grasshopper Flying Club of Wappinger Falls, NY.
Jonathan indicated the club was having a spirited debate about the pros and cons of implementing a yearly checkout with a club instructor, and wondered about the experience of other clubs.
Some high quality responses were received, reporting the experience and procedures of other clubs. The spectrum ranged from “why on earth would you want to add requirements over and above those of the FAA?” to clubs that are happy to have checkouts for all pilots every six months.
One interesting idea, that received numerous positive comments, was submitted by Brad Gardner of the Flying Club of Kansas City. His club used to require an annual check flight for everyone, but now only for those who fly less than 30 hours per year.
More of the verbatim responses are reproduced below. There is clearly no absolute “right” or “wrong” answer to Jonathan’s question, it’s about finding the right balance for your club, factoring in items such as member desires, type of aircraft flown, insurance requirements, etc.
Thanks to everyone that contributed to this discussion. Sharing ideas and knowledge between clubs is valuable!
“Our club requires an annual checkride with a club instructor. I point out to members that if they couple that with the Wings program they never do a BFR again and are always current.”
“If you have complex or HP equipment the insurance company will normally mandate the currency requirements. For 172 class airplanes why would you want to add additional requirements over and above those of the FAA and insurance company? What do you know that they don't?”
“We have twice a year check rides. I think they are a good thing both in terms of keeping our members current and in terms of attracting members that value safety. “
“Our flying club added to the Clubs SOP, every 90 days recheck with a club instructor for pilots that have not been flying. It has made a big difference on the aircraft maintenance.”
“Club checkrides every 30 days for students, every 6 months for pilots. Our safety record is excellent and our $100/month dues includes $2M liability coverage per occurrence. I think our currency plan works well.”
“Our club requires checkout if not flown in 90 days”
“We have a 172 that doesn't have any currency requirements... but our 1968 Piper Arrow requires 5 landings within the last 90 days to stay "current"... If you aren't current, you have 30 more days to do 5 landings with an instructor... otherwise, it's another full checkout with an instructor”
“We don't formally impose a blanket rule on all pilots for additional currency check-outs beyond what the insurance/FAA requires, however we strongly encourage members to take advantage of free instructional time to refresh skills after the winter lay-off, and we actively promote monthly club fly-outs as a means to get folks back into the groove and get the rust off while having fun. We try to emphasize the importance of flying safe and being responsible, but don't want to be overly demanding about it, or deal with the overhead of monitoring/policing the check-outs. We do pay attention to who hasn't flown in a while and invite them to come along and join us for a quick lunch flight, etc. We try to balance keeping things simple and easy vs too complicated/strict, hopefully keeping all pilots, active and less so, in a good frame of mind. With extra mandatory rules, you may have to deal with resistance and push-back and losing pilots or making exceptions. Instead we focus on just keeping pilots engaged and flying.”
“Our club requires annual currency for our 182, none for the Warrior. I believe this is driven by insurance requirements. I do like the idea of more frequent rides with a CFI for those who have not been flying, although I doubt the membership would support this.”
“Annual check. 2 hours and 3 take-off and landings within 90 days. Many of the rules implemented in the club were due to someone abusing the aircraft and costing the club undue expenses. (being stupid) Example: Flats spotting tires and brake wear have reduced significantly since the members are exceeding currency both FAA and club requirements. I have always encouraged our members to always team up when they fly and split the costs. Since many of them have done it they have realized that you can fly twice as much for half the cost. For those who believe that 3 takeoffs and landings in 90 days makes you a proficient pilot, they need to visit with their local WINGS program representative from the FAA and they can show you the accident rate statistics.”
“We offer 5 hours per year FREE instruction and require yearly BFR's and IPC's. this isn't a democracy.”
“Our club operates two Bonanzas. We have required for several decades that each member must have an annual check with a club check pilot and also if he has not flown a club plane in 90 days.”
“We considered making it based on hours flown in the past year and total time but then formulating the rules just became too complicated.”
“We have annual club checkouts on most aircraft, every 6 months for complex (retractable gear) airplanes. There is a huge gap between currency and proficiency. They'll get over it when you're not piling up airplanes.”
“3 landings in a Club aircraft in the last 90 days or you have to ride with an instructor. We have active airline pilots who have to follow this rule. It is a safety issue, if you don't like it, you don't have to be a member- real simple.”