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New South Dakota flying club takes off

The Brown County Flying Club, based in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and formed in March 2013, is the newest flying club of a handful based in the state. The club is named after the county where it’s located, said President Ralph Johnson, and it has eight members.

Darryl Shook is the club’s vice president. “The club owns a Cessna 172 Skyhawk that was originally owned by a member. He originally came to me for help in selling the aircraft because he knew I had experience doing that,” he said. “I suggested instead using it to start the flying club. So we all just chipped in and bought into the aircraft.”

That member was only going to stay until the club got enough members, said Shook. “But once we did, he decided to stay,” he said. The buy-in is $4,800 and monthly dues are $100, covering hangar rental, annuals, oil changes, and future upgrades, he said. The hourly rate is $70, wet, hobbs.

Flight instruction is available through Shook. “He charges $50 an hour for instruction and currently has three students,” Johnson said.

Shook said that the club is still recruiting, mainly through word-of-mouth from its members. “There were four of us when we started. We also did some advertising on the radio but didn’t get anything from it,” he said. “But we did create a one-page flyer with our telephone numbers on tabs at the bottom and put them up at local restaurants and gas stations. When all the phone number tabs are gone, we post more.”

Because the club is still new, it hasn’t had a lot of events, said Johnson. Shook is also the club’s flight instructor, so he leads the monthly meeting. “We talk about different flight training issues with the members, but we haven’t had any social events yet,” he said.

The club will be maxed out at 10 members, said Johnson, so then it will consider adding another aircraft. “Some members are interested in getting a tailwheel or high-performance aircraft. That may or may not happen, said Shook.

Johnson’s main piece of advice for those wanting to start a club: Make sure members are sure about the purpose of the club. “Also, try and encourage members to fly as much as they can,” he said. “If everyone pays the $100 monthly dues but don’t do anything more, the club can’t stay afloat. Finally, keep an eye on club expenses.”

The AOPA Flying Club Initiative is working to help grow the community by providing resources to those wanting to start a flying club. Resources include the “Forming a Flying Club” video, the AOPA flying club finder"AOPA’s Guide to Starting a Flying Club,” a monthly newsletter, and an archive of 14 flying club webinars.

Topics: Aviation Industry, Flying Club

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