Of the 57 new flying clubs eligible for AOPA’s Flying Club 150 Giveaway, the application from the Nate Abel Flying Club stood out. AOPA President Mark Baker broke the good news Oct. 13 in a Skype conversation with the club’s officers arranged to tell them their Reimagined Cessna 150 is on the way.
“That’s awesome,” said Nate Abel Flying Club Vice President James Smith, who had been given a mistaken idea about the true purpose of the call, or who would be on the other end. Baker surprised him by awarding the association’s Reimagined Cessna 150. “The family is going to be floored, they will not believe it.”
The club plans to recruit older pilots to serve as mentors to younger members, and they are fired up to get started.
Applicants who did not win the prize will still get something for their effort, said Les Smith, AOPA senior director of Pilot Community Development, and a member of the panel of AOPA staff who reviewed the applications for the program that Baker announced in April, an initiative that aims to promote flying clubs as an affordable alternative to individual ownership or rental.
“Those other 56 clubs have done everything thing there is to do short of obtaining an aircraft, and we want to work with them on that next step,” AOPA's Smith said.
Flying clubs promote safety, camaraderie, and affordable flying, and foster growth in the pilot community that benefits everyone. The reviewers agreed that the Nate Abel Flying Club application included every element of the best practices and guidance AOPA has developed based on the experience of successful clubs around the country.
WIth a six-pronged safety plan that includes seminars, a flying buddies program, group study, and a plan to feature a “proficiency maneuver of the month,” the Nate Abel Flying Club has developed a systematic approach that will make safe and conscientious flying fun for all. The club intends to pursue nonprofit status, and establish scholarships for flight training. The officers of this start-up club have a diverse and valuable mix of experience and skills, Les Smith noted.
“Their application scored very highly in terms of hitting all the key points we were looking for,” Smith said.
The Texas club was named for Nathan Abel, an avid aviator who succumbed to cancer in 2013. His passion for flying had inspired many in his community, and beyond. Abel held various pilot certificates and was working to become a flight instructor. The club has already held a “Fly Kids For Nate” fundraiser, and plans to make it an annual event supporting flight training scholarships.
Nate Abel Flying Club will base the Reimagined Cessna 150 at Hicks Airfield, just north of Fort Worth, Texas. AOPA teamed up with Aviat Aircraft to restore the Cessna 150 to like-new condition, and provide a flying club with an airplane that can be owned and operated at low cost.
The 150 Flying Club Giveaway contest was made possible through AOPA’s flying clubs initiative under its You Can Fly program. AOPA launched You Can Fly in January 2015 to build a vibrant, growing, and self-sustaining community of active pilots. You Can Fly is moving the needle when it comes to building and sustaining the pilot population with programs to improve student completion rates, bring lapsed pilots back to the cockpit, introduce young people to aviation careers, and provide a cost-effective way to fly and share that experience with a community of fellow pilots.