Sanford, N.C.-based Wings of Carolina Flying Club, started in 1961, has a simple goal: provide safe aeronautical training, low-cost aviation education, inexpensive hourly aircraft rates, and flying fun. The nonprofit club, which operates as a 501(c)(7), currently has 350 members—and that number grows daily, said president Jan Squillace.
The club has a fleet of 13 aircraft, including four Cessna 152s, three Piper Cherokee Warrior P-28As, three Cessna 172SPs, and three Mooney M20Js. “We like to have multiple aircraft of the same model and configuration so we can switch them out easily in case one goes into maintenance,” said Squillace.
Full members who fly pay a $200 application fee that goes into the club’s aircraft capital account, said Squillace. “Members also pay a security deposit that’s returned if you leave the club, based on the aircraft type you want to fly,” she said. The club charges $300 for the Cessna 152, $600 for the Piper Warrior, $900 for the Cessna 172SP, and $1200 for the Mooney.
“If you do a deposit for the Mooney, you can use all the aircraft in the fleet,” said Squillace.
The club charges monthly dues of $65, which covers fixed costs and insurance, said Squillace. Wet rates for the aircraft are $74.18 for the Cessna 152; $105.36 for the Piper Warrior; $122.63 for the Cessna 172SP; and $163.78 for the Mooney.
The club has several other memberships, said Squillace. “For flying members who take a few months off, like snowbirds who go to Florida in the winter, membership drops to $15 a month,” she said. We also have an associate membership for $20 a month. They aren’t interested in flying, but they want access to other club amenities and events.”
Those wanting to learn to fly have access to the club’s 12 flight instructors. “Our instructors are paid $25 an hour, but they keep the whole fee, so the student pays less,” said Squillace. “It’s a win-win for instructors and students. We’re not here to make a profit—we’re here to keep flying.” The club currently has around 50 students, she added.
The Wings of Carolina Flying Club is one of the 11 pathfinder clubs chosen to help develop and grow the AOPA Flying Club Network. Squillace said they volunteered to be one because the club has a model that works. “But we are just one example of how to make a flying club work. It’s good for people to see one way and go from there.”
Squillace offered advice for those wanting to start or grow a flying club. “Get your club’s name out there. Participate in programs like Young Eagles, and get to know your local FBO,” she said. “We sell a lot of logo clothing, hats, and bumper stickers. You see it all over the place and it opens a conversation and gets people excited about flying.”
Learn more about flying clubs in AOPA’s online resource.