Bob Williams, a veteran, professional pilot, and certificated flight instructor based at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, Ohio, is creating the YNG Warriors to Wings Flying Club. The club’s goal is to offer flight training at a low cost to veterans and other members.
The idea for the club came from U.S. Marine Capt. Gabriel Glinsky, a V–22 Osprey pilot and former civilian flight instructor. Glinsky won AOPA’s Let’s Go Flying award n 2010 for his efforts to organize and teach a ground school for his fellow unit members while on active duty in Afghanistan. In November, he created the first Warriors To Wings Flying Club, in Henderson Field Airport in Wallace, N.C., near Marine Corps Air Station New River for current and former members of the military.
“He solicited others to create the same program across the U.S., so I started the Youngstown Warriors To Wings Flying Club in December 2012,” said Williams.
Anyone can join the club, said Williams. “We’re looking for a mix of people, including active pilots to serve as mentors, CFIs, mechanics, and aircraft owners,” he said. “But the primary function is to train veterans in a pay-it-forward fashion.”
The club currently has nine people who have expressed interest in joining, said Williams, who also has an ATC-610 simulator for members’ use. It will start with a free ground school, he added.
Williams is advertising to find club members, including CFIs and an aircraft owner who would lease their aircraft to the club. “I’m jealous when I see people say they are up and running. The AOPA Flying Club Network has been such a help,” he said. “My perfect model is the T&G Flying Club out of Ohio’s Burk Lakefront and Cuyahoga County airports. It’s a for-profit business with a flying club environment.”
The challenge in getting the Youngstown Warriors To Wings Flying Club has been finding people interested in becoming pilots, said Williams. “Everyone has competition for their time and money. People say they need to save for kids’ college, so they can’t blow it by spending it on flight lessons,” he said. “If I had an aircraft and one person, I’d have a flying club. We’d be up and running.”