One of the key first steps in forming a flying club is identifying founding members. These members will be used to rally interest, guide the mission and ideals of the club, possibly help with club financing, and potentially act as future officers of the club. Most successful clubs target a few special individuals as founding members with particular areas of expertise.
These members will be the driving force in the formal/legal formation of the club and its identity. One of the benefits of being a founding member is having input in the mission of the club and how the club is organized.
It is useful to have members that have the following skills:
Most importantly, founding members should be a good fit with each other and the organization. Camaraderie is a key component of effective organizations and it will go a long way toward building a successful club if it is there from the outset.
CFI’s play an important role in a flying club, and their skills can open up a world of possibilities for the clubs direction. If your club established a mission of flight training, the CFI is critical. Even for missions not related to training, a club will always benefit from an instructor that can provide BFR’s and remedial/transition training for members and future members. If the club doesn’t have a CFI as a member, it is valuable to have a relationship with the local FBO or flight school so the club’s training needs can be met.
Having an A&P as a founding club member is extremely valuable. They can help guide decision-making in choosing an aircraft for the club, perform a pre-buy inspection, as well as provide first hand knowledge and manage the aircraft’s upkeep. For a club to bring all maintenance in house, it would have to have an A&P with an IA as a club member or employee. An exemption applies to clubs operating amateur built experimental aircraft, which require yearly condition inspections in the place of an Annual, which can be performed by an A&P.
Having an aircraft owner or former owner may also prove useful to a club just starting out. Their experience with aircraft care, insurance, and maintenance make them a wealth of knowledge and generally a good role model for less experienced club members. By choosing an aircraft owner as a founding member, they can help establish a club culture that demands respect for the aircraft.