I am taking this opportunity to introduce myself as the new program manager of the AOPA’s Flying Club network. This initiative is an important step in addressing the decline in the pilot population, and I hope to be a significant part of the effort to turn things around. This effort is one of the AOPA’s key initiatives for the next year, and I am proud to accept this position.
Before taking up flying club duties, I worked as an aviation technical specialist in AOPA’s Pilot Information Center focusing on airport compliance and regulatory issues. Prior to this I was employed with a regional airline becoming a Check Airmen on the Embraer-170. I also flew a King Air for a small corporation and was a CFI in Central Pennsylvania.
Along with my professional aviation experience, I built and fly a Pitts Special. My most recent aviation accomplishment is completion of a commercial glider add-on rating, which opened my eyes to the importance of the Flying Club atmosphere. Glider flying is a social activity, and without a club atmosphere would be nearly impossible.
Since the announcement of AOPA’s Flying Club Network at the Aviation Summit in October the response has been positive. The Pilot Information Center, the first point of contact for many members, has seen an increase in Flying Club related calls.
These calls are centered on starting a club, insurance questions, and enhancing current club operations. Many calls also center on legal questions on how to set up an organization or compliance with the FARs. The PIC provides the guidance they can with a referral to an attorney if necessary.
In my current role, some of the first things I am attending to are changes to FAA policy documents, creation of new resources to assist clubs, and of course growing the community of flying clubs. The overall goal of this exciting new initiative is to assist Club members with their operations to enhance and grow the aviation community.
If you have questions, or are looking for information, you can find resources at AOPA’s Flying Club Page or by contacting the Pilot Information Center. I look forward to working with you.
Chris Lawler, Manager, AOPA Flying Club Network