The decision to replace AOPA’s once a year Summit with a series of regional fly-ins posed many opportunities, one of which was selecting new speakers and developing presentations that related to our local audiences.
Our attendees are grassroots aviation enthusiasts, many of whom are pilots operating within a few hundred miles of the fly-in location. For the flying club initiative, this means that presentations are aimed towards smaller groups to educate and facilitate networking. To meet these goals, we created Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost, a presentation designed to highlight operational clubs, educate startup clubs, and increase clubs membership overall.
Once the presentation was created, we teamed up with local flying clubs to highlight their successes. The original intention was to encourage interest in the hosting flying club, and educate the audience on how to successfully start a club of their own. The presentation was a success, but we began to discover an unintended but very positive byproduct. Startup clubs started to work with existing flying clubs to swap ideas and experiences and encourage each other’s growth. Established clubs were becoming mentors for clubs in formation.
This effect was far too good to be true, so we decided to put it to the test. We reached out to our three regional AOPA ambassadors of the You Can Fly program, located in California, Florida, and New England, and set up local flying club presentations. We encouraged each of these presentations to be hosted by an established flying club, and used our marketing reach to drum up attendance. The results were phenomenal. Each presentation sparked interest in one or more startup flying clubs, the well-established host clubs enjoyed the local outreach, and symbiotic relationships were created.
It is our goal to continue this effort of Flying Club awareness as we move forward with the You Can Fly program. Expect to see more ambassadors, and of course more Regional Fly-Ins. If an ambassador is added to your region, reach out to them and ask about how you can be involved in the growth of the Flying Club Community. If an ambassador has not yet been designated for your region, consider the help and support your club can provide by reaching out to smaller fledgling clubs to share your members expertise and experience.