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You Can Fly: Walking the walk

AOPA Flying Clubs directors start a club

AOPA’s Flying Clubs initiative got a boost when Steve Bateman left Nebraska to join the association as director of the initiative. The British-born flier is an enthusiastic pilot, aircraft owner, and former flying club member. And he was anxious to put his experience and background to good use—he suggested to AOPA Flying Clubs Manager Michael Hangartner they start a club, using Bateman’s 1980 Cessna A152 Aerobat as the club aircraft.
Pilot Briefing July
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Steve Bateman and Michael Hangartner, shown here in a Piper PA–11, are forming a club using Bateman's Aerobat.

“As soon as Steve mentioned the idea of putting his Aerobat in a club, I knew I was in,” said Hangartner. “The virtues that we are always extolling about flying clubs—that they make flying more affordable, more accessible, and more fun—are all things that we truly believe.”

The Frederick, Maryland-based coworkers—who spend much of their days offering advice to flying clubs across the nation—set about starting a club in nearby Westminster, Maryland, at Carroll County Regional Airport where Bateman hangars his Aerobat. The Westminster Aerobats Flying Club was established in April and is currently interviewing members.

“Once I had a hangar, two of the other ingredients are the people—the members—and then all the processes and procedures around starting a club,” Bateman said. “I started trying to find if there was interest at the airport. I met with the local EAA chapter. I got to know people at the airport.” Bateman hosted a “Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost” seminar and advertised a club meeting. Bateman and Hangartner distributed flyers to neighboring airports within 50 miles of Carroll County Regional Airport (Frederick Municipal Airport currently has five flying clubs and a waiting list for hangars). The club’s goal is to have 10 members. Commitment to the club is $1,000 and a monthly fee of $100 for fixed costs. Bateman will lease his Aerobat to the club.

“The advantage we have is a good background in clubs,” said Bateman. “We’ll continue to enhance our best practices based on our personal experiences and the realities that we’re always in the process of discovering.”

SkyTech, the FBO at Carroll County, has been supportive of the club and allows the club to use its meeting room. “Some people are confused about the flying club/flight school relationship,” Bateman said. “Clubs are not for profit, they’re not stealing business. They are friends and happily coexist.”

“Steve and I have been talking about ideas for trips we can take in the 152 and for social events we can hold at the airport,” Hangartner said. “Plus, I have always wanted to learn aerobatics. Now I’ll have easy access to an aircraft that will be perfect for that.”

Questions about starting a new club? Want to know more about AOPA’s flying club benefits? We are ready to help you. Please contact our flying clubs staff at [email protected] or call 800-USA-AOPA.

AOPA’s You Can Fly initiative is an umbrella program supporting flying clubs, encouraging best practices in flight training, getting lapsed pilots back in the air, bringing AOPA’s resources and expertise to pilot groups across the country, and helping high school students learn more about careers in aviation. The You Can Fly program is entirely funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.


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