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You Can Fly program honors 100th flying clubYou Can Fly program honors 100th flying club

The celebration of aviation reached a happy milestone on April 3 as AOPA President Mark Baker congratulated a group of Texas pilots on their founding of the 100th flying club created with support and assistance from AOPA’s You Can Fly program.

AOPA recognized the Midway Flying Club, located in Texas, as the 100th flying club AOPA helped to launch. Bryan Jakubik, left, the club's secretary, talks with Steve Bateman, director of AOPA's Flying Clubs Initiative, during a Pilot Town Hall at the 2019 Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo. Photo by Mike Collins.

Baker presented a plaque to the Midway Flying Club during his Pilot Town Hall at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo, congratulating club Secretary Bryan Jakubik on the group's accomplishment. The Midway Flying Club is based at Mid-Way Regional Airport between Midlothian and Waxahachie, Texas.

The club, which has seven members so far and operates a Cessna Cardinal, became operational in late 2018. The founders, who worked with AOPA’s Texas Aviation Ambassador Pat Brown to get their club off the ground, said they were motivated by their belief that there was a need to bring affordable and safe flying opportunities in well-maintained and capable aircraft to the South Dallas pilot community.

A key component of You Can Fly, AOPA’s umbrella program to get pilots flying and keep them flying, is its Flying Clubs initiative that was launched in 2015 dedicated to creating a more connected general aviation community and encouraging pilots to stay active and engaged in aviation. From starting a flying club to growing its membership, the Flying Clubs initiative offers many free resources providing nearly everything a club needs to offer affordable flying to its members. The AOPA Flying Club Finder helps pilots interested in joining a flying club locate one in their area. The You Can Fly program is made possible by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation.To make a contribution, visit www.aopafoundation.org/donate.

For the Midway Flying Club, it all started with an earlier AOPA event hosted by Brown to energize the GA community. In November 2017 he conducted an AOPA Rusty Pilots seminar and a session of “Maximum Fun/Minimum Cost: How to Start and Run a Flying Club” in the area.

“I sent out my usual ‘thank you for attending’ email including some words to those who’d indicated an interest in starting a flying club,” he recalled.  “Bryan Jakubik was the first reply. Allen Story was the second.”

Story, now the club's president, recalled that as he attended several events, he noticed some familiar faces in the crowd and concluded that his flying goals must be similar to theirs. Making contact with Jakubik, he found that he was right.

AOPA President Mark Baker, left, talks with a member after his Wednesday Pilot Town Hall presentation at Sun 'n Fun. Photo by Mike Collins.

Brown kept in touch with them, and in May 2018, Thierry Saint Loup joined the group and became its treasurer.

“They had their first meeting toward the end of that month,” Brown said.

The three pilots focused on developing their bylaws and operating procedures and creating the legal entity for the organization.  Saint Loup located the Cessna Cardinal on the airport and purchased it, leasing it to the club.

The club made its public debut in January when Brown returned to Mid-Way Regional Airport for another “Maximum Fun/Minimum Cost: How to Start and Run a Flying Club” event.

“At that event, the club introduced itself to the attendees and became officially operational,” he said.

Asked for his advice to other prospective flying-club organizers, Story emphasized two key points: Connecting with a few other pilots who are as passionate about aviation as you are and taking the initiative to take that first important step to get things rolling.

“You just have to make a couple of phone calls and get everybody together,” he said.

Later in the Pilot Town Hall, Baker and Mike Ginter, AOPA vice president for airports, introduced Larry Wade. Wade, who owns Golden Isles Aviation, the FBO at McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport in St. Simons, Georgia, talked about the importance of FBO pricing transparency, and explained how easy it was for him to incorporate his business’s pricing in AOPA’s Airport Directory Online. In addition to owning an FBO, Wade told the audience he is a private pilot. “I am you in that sense,” he said. “We need to work together for the common good of aviation.”

Topics: You Can Fly, Pilots, Sun n Fun

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