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And just like that…

Illinois flying club is 200th AOPA-supported endeavor

In just six short months, an idea became a club thanks to the AOPA You Can Fly Flying Club initiative. The 200th flying club that AOPA helped launch is the Lake Shelbyville Flying Club from Shelby County, Illinois.
You Can Fly
AOPA recognized members of the Lake Shelbyville Flying Club who came to EAA AirVenture at a special presentation during the annual AOPA Pilot Town Hall.

“This is a fun, three-part story,” said Steve Bateman, flying clubs director. “It’s a wonderful story about an airplane, an airport manager, and a group of pilots.”

Shelby County Airport manager Scott Jefson said the pace of the club’s growth, which now has 10 members, is in part thanks to the assistance of the AOPA You Can Fly Flying Clubs initiative. “We called Steve after our first meeting in January, by the second meeting we were rocking and rolling, and things just [fell] into place.”

The club is leasing a Cessna 172, which Jefson found at an estate sale, cleaned up, and flew back to the airport. After cleaning the heavy mold from the aircraft, Jefson got the aircraft airworthy, and it took its first flight with a club member on May 7.

As the airport manager, Jefson is the cog that brought it all together. Area pilots would come to his offices asking about rentals and always suggesting the possibility of forming a club to help with expenses and have an aircraft readily available. “I realized all these people had one thing in common—me. So, I gave them all the names of people who were asking about a club, and they all reached out to one another,” he said.

“Having the support of the airport manager is essential,” said Bateman. “Most operators are delighted that a new aviation organization will be based at their airport, as it will likely generate fuel sales and support airport business—but the operator has to balance use and operations on the airport, and has the obligation of ensuring that all tenants play well together and that none are afforded special or exclusive rights.”

Establishing a good working relationship and having the airport manager’s support is important and, more often than not, they open up doors and provide unexpected resources, such as free use of airport board rooms for club meetings, fuel/hangar/tiedown discounts, aircraft on the field available for sale or lease, and potential members.

Jefson was happy that the Lake Shelbyville Flying Club came together. “We now have 10 people who were not flying who are now flying.”

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