The AOPA campus was abuzz with talk of flying clubs throughout the six-day extravaganza known as the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. The annual event, which takes places each Spring at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in central Florida, was home for the week to a Reimagined C-152 and an Aspire 172 positioned on each side of the You Can Fly space. AOPA staff met and interacted with an almost unprecedented number of men and women, young and old, who either belong to a flying club, or show a real interest in joining a flying club.
AOPA’s Program Pavilion hosted dozens of visitors for a seminar designed to enlighten and encourage the formation of flying clubs. The Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost, How to Start and Grow a Flying Club, not only drew new potential club members into the welcoming shade of the pavilion, it also attracted members of established clubs who were eager to learn new insights, as well as share some lessons they have learned from participating in club life.
The You Can Fly team also hosted a well-attended Flying Club Social that saw members of clubs from several states mix with potential new members. Over a picnic style hot dog dinner, AOPA President Mark Baker addressed the crowd to share the organization’s commitment to flying clubs. He illustrated that commitment by announcing the Flying Club 150 Giveaway, which will put a beautiful, Reimagined C-150 (a remanufactured 1976 C-150M) valued at approximately $68,000 into the hangar or tie-down space of a newly formed flying club – somewhere in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia.
Full eligibility rules are available at AOPA.org/flyingclubgiveaway. In a nutshell, the winning club will have a minimum of four members, have named officers to specific positions, possess a set of bylaws, receive a quote from AOPA Insurance Services, be listed as a “club in formation” on AOPA’s Flying Club Finder, and complete an online application.
Through the process of completing the steps necessary to compete to win this particular Reimagined C-150, each fledgling club will receive a premium listing in the AOPA Flying Club Finder, access to AOPA’s unique and highly valuable resource library, and invitations to join AOPA at special events. For those that wish to expand the benefits AOPA can offer flying clubs, they can take the additional step of registering to join the AOPA Flying Club Network. Network membership is free, yet comes with some significant perks, including the availability of free scheduling software that can ease operational concerns for clubs whether they are new or well established.
Within days of Baker’s announcement more than 20 fledgling flying clubs had registered for the contest and begun the process of forming new flying clubs that would meet the qualifications by the deadline of September 1. The aircraft will be awarded on or about October 1, 2016.
As Baker says, “Flying clubs and Reimagined aircraft are great options to bring down the costs and get pilots flying more.” That’s especially true now, with the launch of the Flying Club 150 Giveaway. Baker adds, “By bringing them together we hope to get more pilots learning about flying clubs’ benefits and help get a new flying club off the ground.”