This was my first trip to EAA Air Venture, Oshkosh. It was everything I had heard it would be, and more than I could see! What an overwhelming amount of aircraft and seminars and more information than one person can soak up in a week. So, it’s a good thing I brought more people to enjoy the experience with me! I had the great pleasure of bringing teens from our Aviation Explorers post to Oshkosh. It was their first visit, as well. My son was among the group of young people spending the week guarding walk ways for taxiing aircraft and directing traffic. Seeing more than 200 teens camping, working and soaking up aviation for a week was awesome! They are already learning about how to work within the club structure and networking with teens from all over the country. What a great way to immerse them in every aspect of aviation!
Monday we had a Flying Club Management Seminar, led by Marc Epner, president of Leading Edge Flying Club. He spoke to more than 50 club members about what it takes to lead, not “manage” a flying club. He feels that managing a club results in status quo, and leadership has the potential to move a club forward. He explained all that his duties as the president of the club include, right down to vacuuming and taking out the club house trash. While leadership roles are volunteer positions, they can take quite a bit of involvement. There are many positions to consider filling including an often forgotten social coordinator. This person will help organize club events which is the social piece that holds a club together. Once again Marc proved to be a wealth of information.
Friday was another great day for flying club members at Air Venture! We started the day with a delicious breakfast with more than 150 of our flying club members and the opportunity to hear David St. George of East Hill Flying Club, Jan Squillace of Wings of Carolina Flying Club, along with Marc Epner share their insights on starting and running a successful flying club. They were available to answer questions afterwards, along with staff from AOPA Insurance Services. I find that every club discussion turns to insurance questions eventually; it is one issue that affects all of us! We ended the day with the Flying Club Meet and Greet - a relaxed setting to share a drink and chat with each other about various club activities and challenges. I had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the country, as well as a couple from Austria! It was also an opportunity for me to sit down and chat with people close to home, including members from the Octopus, Inn and TSS clubs at our neighboring airport, Montgomery County Airpark (KGAI). I gained insights on what concerns our members the most. We spoke about how to afford upgrades to aging aircraft, how to add additional aircraft to the fleet and how to restructure existing club debt. Emily Meczkowski and Caroline Abate from AOPA Aviation Finance Company were there to talk shop and give advice.
I expect next year will still be overwhelming, how could it not be! I plan to grow our Aviation Explorers program in order to have more kids on the ground scoping out and reporting back the best things for me to see. I also plan to move forward with our flying club initiative and bring new and exciting topics for discussion next year, such as leadership and marketing. As always, feel free to contact me if there are topics you would like to hear more about at future events.