Navigating the world of flying clubs—especially for those who are just beginning to think about forming one—can seem daunting. From the legal and financial intricacies involved in a club’s creation to the crafting of bylaws to the purchase of an aircraft, there are times you might begin to feel a little lost (or worse, disoriented). While there is no getting around the fact that forming a club takes time and effort, it needn’t be a painful process. The journey from an idea to an operational flying club can be immensely rewarding. It can even be…fun! In this edition of The Club Connector, we will focus on a potentially complicated process and look at ways in which it can be simplified.
The theme of simplicity begins with our Question of the Month, which examines the idea of clubs leasing an aircraft as opposed to purchasing one. Leasing can be an attractive option for clubs looking to get started, as there are fewer potentially prohibitive start-up costs involved. This theme is then continued in our Aircraft Spotlight, in which we turn our gaze on the venerable Cessna 152—an aircraft that personifies simplicity in aviation.
This month’s Club Spotlight ties various threads together as it focuses on a new club in Westminster, MD that is forming around a leased Cessna A152 Aerobat—a scenario that epitomizes the idea of maximum fun for a minimal cost.
Safety culture is an important aspect of any club, and we at AOPA encourage clubs to implement a formalized safety program. Such programs, often overseen by club safety officers, promote good safety habits while also providing club members with a reason to socialize. While organizing safety talks might initially sound time-intensive, our Safety article this month will guide you through some of the ready-made resources that AOPA’s Air Safety Institute has to offer clubs.
Finally, we know that clubs often change and revise initial documents throughout their life cycles. This idea serves as the basis for this month’s Pulse Poll. We would like to know: How often does your club revisit its bylaws?
Approaching Sun ‘N Fun
Spring is (nearly) here, and as the days grow longer and the weather improves we are only weeks away from full-fledged flying season—and nothing says “flying season” quite like Sun ‘N Fun. The annual international fly-in and expo at Lakeland, FL, will kick off AOPA’s season of fly-in events. If you’re in a flying club, there will be wonderful opportunities to interact both with other clubs and with the aviation community at large.
If you’re planning to attend, be sure to mark your calendar for the flying club social event on Friday, April 13. The event, which will take place in the AOPA area, will begin at 5:30 pm. There's a good chance that AOPA President Mark Baker will be stopping by. Also, be sure to let us know if you would like to meet up at some point during the fly-in—we are always willing to talk about flying clubs. Hope to see you in Florida!
Are There Any Old Clubs Out There?
Among many clubs—particularly those that have been in existence for years—history has become a point of pride. We want to recognize some of these clubs, and to celebrate what they have done for general aviation by featuring some of the very oldest in an upcoming edition of The Club Connector.
If you think that your club might rank among the longest flying in the nation, send an e-mail to [email protected] that contains your club’s name, its location, and the year that it became operational. The only stipulation: your club must have been continually active since its founding. Submit your club, and you might just find yourself sharing its story in an upcoming edition of this newsletter!
A Perfect (Yellow) Bird for a Club
Is your flying club shopping for an additional aircraft for its fleet? Or, are you a member of a fledgling club looking to make an initial aircraft purchase? If so, AOPA might have just the plane for you! The organization is currently offering two of its Reimagined Cessna 152s for sale. These 152s, which were painstakingly refurbished by Aviat in partnership with AOPA, can be operated for approximately $81 per hour—including fuel!
If you are purchasing the aircraft as a flying club (or to lease to a club), the offer gets even better: AOPA will sell the aircraft to a club at a 10% discount. For more details, contact Rodney Martz at [email protected].
Keeping Your Information Current
In recent months, we have undergone an ambitious data clean-up project aimed at ensuring that all the information in the AOPA Flying Club Finder is current and—therefore—useful to people who might be using the online tool to find your club. After all, a database can only be helpful if the data that it contains is both accurate and up-to-date. The project, which was begun at the tail end of 2017, has been completed. In its course, we in AOPA’s Flying Clubs Network reached out to every club via phone and/or e-mail, soliciting the most current information available.
As of now, we feel far more confident that all the clubs contained in the Finder are operational and able to be contacted. Data is dynamic, however, and we are aware that as time goes by there is potential for it to become stale. In an effort to prevent this, we ask two favors of clubs. First, help us keep your information current by responding to our annual flying clubs survey, which we will be e-mailing to clubs over the summer. Secondly, if you undergo a major change (particularly in regard to contact information), don’t forget to access your club’s Flying Club Finder account and alter its information to reflect this. Also—should you come across information on the Finder that does not seem current—please let us know!
On the topic of flying club information, a best practice that we would recommend is to create a club-specific e-mail address (or addresses) that can be used for club communications. Doing this, as opposed to using personal e-mail addresses, will make it far easier to keep your club information current over time. Even as the club sees turnover in membership and in officer positions, its contact information will remain, well, contactable.
Promote Your Club Events with Us
Is your club planning an event that will be open to the public? If so, we in the Flying Clubs Initiative can help you promote it! Many times, clubs that are hosting open houses, seminars, or other events find themselves looking for ways to get the word out—particularly to other pilots. If your club is hosting such an event and you would like to publicize it in The Club Connector, forward all relevant information to [email protected]. We will then list it in our events section, allowing you—in a very literal sense—to connect with clubs.
In addition to The Club Connector, another good way to publicize a club event is on the AOPA Flying Clubs Network Facebook group. The group has over 9,000 members, which makes it an excellent tool for spreading the word about your gathering! As an additional tip—if you’re looking to draw pilots, advertise food. Donuts seem to be particularly effective.
You might recall in last month's edition of The Club Connector that as of early February AOPA's Flying Clubs Initiative had helped to start 5 new flying clubs. This month, we are excited to announce that we have welcomed 4 more clubs into the Flying Clubs Network family since that time. This means that we have helped 9 clubs get off the ground this year, and are well on our way to our goal of 35!
Details and links to the 4 most recent additions to the Flying Clubs Network are as follows:
Spring Hill Flying Club
X05, Spring Hill, FL
Fullerton Junior Aviators
KFUL, Fullerton, CA
Cantrall Aviation Flying Club
KEKX, Elizabethtown, KY
Merritt Island Flying Club
KCOI, Merritt Island, FL