If you’re looking for fun and friends to go with your flying, a club may be the perfect place for you. Many flying clubs plan fly-outs and other adventures in addition to regularly scheduled club meetings.
Depending on your club’s character, meetings may be no-nonsense business affairs or good excuses for a little hangar talk.
In addition to the typical $100 hamburger trips, the Yellow Jacket Flying Club at Georgia Tech University hosts an annual “airport fun day,” sends a few planeloads of members to AirVenture in Oshkosh, and holds air rallies, where members solve clues and use pilotage to find their way to a mystery destination. Club members also attend fly-ins, aviation expos, and other community events to promote the group and the fun of flying.
“Interacting with a club has enabled me to grow as a pilot, beyond my primary training or instruction,” said Ryan Rodd, president of the Yellow Jackets Flying Club. “It has created a support network to turn to when I’ve had questions or problems, or just needed an aviation ‘fix.’ This, I think, is our greatest advantage over an FBO. Sure we can operate cheaper, more exclusively, and provide better aircraft and facilities, but it is the interactions and networking that are invaluable.”
Creating that positive environment relies on good will and good management. To ensure that scheduling is handled fairly and accurately, many flying clubs pay for an online scheduling system that allows members to schedule flight time. The scheduling system may check that each member has met club and FAA proficiency requirements and prevent members who have not done so from scheduling aircraft. As a result, some insurance companies offer discounts for clubs with such systems in place.
Clubs have different ways of handling maintenance, too. Some use volunteer assistance from A&Ps in the club for as much maintenance as possible, while others have regularly scheduled appointments at one or more local shops. In either case, most clubs have high maintenance standards, often set by their insurance companies.
Arranging maintenance and general record keeping is usually handled on a volunteer basis. Some clubs simply assign tasks to members on a rotating basis. Others offer incentives. The Yellow Jackets Flying Club offers volunteer points for each activity performed. Club members can redeem the points for reduced dues and fees.
Learn more about how flying clubs operate, or call the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).