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Club Culture

The culture of your club is something that separates it from all others. The type of membership structure, operating rules, aircraft types and social calendar all help form your club’s culture, and after you complete the process, you’ll have the club that you’re fully comfortable with.

A safety culture is another aspect of the club that we’d like you to think about early in the life of your club.  This is reflected in the operating rules, but also in the behaviors of club members.

Founding Members

There’s no magic to establishing founding members. It’s simply a matter of finding some other like-minded people who share a love of flying. As you ask around, you may be surprised at the number of people who never considered starting a flying club but are very open to the idea.

Finding those like-minded people may take some time, but it’s well worth the effort. After all, while none of these steps are difficult, it’s always more fun to work together with a team as you head towards a common goal.

Where might you find these folks? A good place to start would be your local airport or other airports that might be close by. Placing a flyer (with permission, of course!) in the local FBO will likely elicit some responses. Are there any large companies in your area? Are there any service organizations (Rotary Clubs, National Exchange Clubs, etc.) you know of or, perhaps, belong to? How about local Aviation Medical Examiners (AME)? They see pilots on a daily basis. Are you close to a major airline hub? Lots of airline pilots like to fly general aviation airplanes when they’re not flying the big iron and so frequent flight schools and FBOs. 

AOPA offers online tools for listing clubs in formation where you can list your fledgling club, including:

As you look for people, consider what they bring to the organization, such as:

  • Vision – being able to identify and articulate the club’s mission
  • Finance/Budgeting – having a solid financial plan is a key to any club’s success
  • Organization – someone who can guide day-to-day operations
  • Legal/Contract Background – forming a club requires the creation of bylaws and may require articles of incorporation and obtaining non-profit status
  • Maintenance – it’s always good to have someone who understands the mechanical side of an aircrafteven better would be an aircraft mechanic (A&P)
  • Flight Instructor – even if your club doesn’t permit members to use the aircraft for primary training, someone will still have to perform checkouts for new members and recurrent training such as flight reviews
  • Aircraft Owner – a person who may be willing to lease an airplane to the club

And, perhaps, most importantly, is camaraderie. You will be spending a lot of time with these folks as you work through the details of formation, and after the club is operational. A good group makes it fun! 

So, what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to start the process!

Writing Your Mission Statement

Every successful business has a mission statement. It sets the tone and helps establish the vision. Successful flying clubs have mission statements for the same reasons.

Here’s one example of an actual mission statement:

The purpose of the club is to promote safe, enjoyable flying and aviation-related activities, and to provide the opportunity for its members to fly aircraft economically and conveniently in a non-profit organization.

The club will provide a comfortable, collegial flying environment for interested pilots in order to promote the dissemination of safe habits and open dialogue for the free exchange of experience and knowledge. Open communication will promote safe operations and goal-directed learning. This collegial atmosphere shall also promote basic as well as advanced training.

The club will provide affordable, clean, well-maintained aircraft for the club members' use. As safety is a priority, all maintenance concerns will be addressed in a prompt fashion.

The club will promote the joy of flying to the community by being an organization with a special focus on safety and proficiency.

After reading this statement, you have no doubt as to the goals and vision of the club.  Too wordy for you?  That’s ok.  Your  mission statement is YOUR mission statement. It can be as short as one sentence.

The Central Florida Flying Club has been operational for several years at the time of this writing. Their mission statement is only six words long. "Fly more, spend less, have fun." As brief as that may be, it clearly establishes the fundamental goals of the club.

As you work through this process, decisions you’ll be making will be easier when you're guided by a mission statement. Why? Because you’ve already established your goals and your vision!

Your mission statement will help you determine the kind of airplane (or airplanes) your club will be flying. Number of seats? Tricycle gear? Tailwheel? High performance? Complex? Multi-engine?

Can a mission statement be changed as the club matures? Of course, but that’s not to be taken lightly, as it can have a long-lasting impact (good or bad) on the club. So, take some time and think this out. You’ll be glad you did!

Next Section: Structure Your Club