Flying clubs come in all shapes and sizes. Some have hundreds of members, while others have only a handful. One club may have multiple aircraft ranging from docile trainers to high performance cross-country machines, while another may be satisfied with a single, fairly inexpensive, pedestrian machine.
Two newly formed flying clubs in California illustrate this point well.
F70 Flyers is a small flying club. Intentionally so. With a single Piper Arrow at their disposal, the four member club finds their diminutive size to be the perfect fit for the mission they’ve drawn up for themselves.
Based at the French Valley Airport (F70), a county-owned public use field in Riverside County, Kelly Manzani formed the F70 Flyers and its membership were drawn to the organization by an airplane that wasn’t being used as much as its owner’s might like. Forming the club and leasing the aircraft to the membership resolved that issue, quickly. Now the aircraft flies more often than the owners were flying it themselves, and scheduling issues are few with only a handful of people booking an airplane they wouldn’t have had access to without the opportunity to become members of the club.
Thirty miles south at McClellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ) in Carlsbad, CA, Plane Insights has taken a different approach to establishing their perfect club model. Initially formed by five pilots who owned three airplanes, the club quickly grew to six members. By the end of 2016 the club intends to have several times that many members.
Co-founders Paul Langston and Ramin Sediqi pooled resources and talents to form Plane Insights. Their efforts, combined with those of their fellow members, put a Cessna 150, a Cessna 172, and Piper Cherokee on the flight line for their use. The cost sharing attributes of the flying club model allows each member to fly less expensively than they might otherwise, and have a larger selection of aircraft to choose from as well.
Langston, who formerly taught ground school at Palomar Community College, moved his class to a local flight school when the college terminated its aviation program. The club offers access to affordable, well-maintained aircraft not only for Langston and his fellow members, but it also provides an avenue to increased activity for any of his students or local pilots who wish to join the club.
AOPA’s You Can Fly Ambassador in California, Kay Sundaram, has been at the ready, sharing insights and providing resources as both clubs came into being. “It is a pleasure to work with these people,” says Sundaram. “They’re passionate about aviation, enthusiastic about teaching, and bringing new pilots into the system.”
Although each club in the AOPA Flying Club Network is unique, essentially marching to the tune of their own drummer, while remaining well within the guidelines issued by the FAA regarding the operation of flying clubs, Sundaram notices that members do have at least one common trait. “They love what they do,” says Sundaram, “and it shows.”