There aren’t too many flying clubs that have been in existence for 76 years. The Springville Flying Club based at Spanish Fork-Springville Airport (SPK) about 10 miles south of Provo, Utah is just such a club.
It was founded in October 1941 with the goal to provide well-maintained aircraft and the most reasonable rates possible. Very little has changed as the club has been remarkably consistent with its aircraft and its members.
“Some local guys that wanted to fly but couldn’t afford an airplane on their own decided to go in together and buy an aircraft,” Club Secretary Larry Forsey said. “I’m not sure what order they were in—they had a Taylorcraft, an Aeronca, and they had a Piper Cub. Then they graduated to the [Cessna] 172 and then a [Cessna] 182. Then they got into the Beech Bonanza.”
Larry has been a club member for 44 years, and his father, David, was one of the founding members and was in the club for 35 years. Since Larry joined the club in the early 1970s there have always been three aircraft available to club members—a C-172, a C-182, and a V-tail Bonanza.
Although the club fleet was set before Larry joined, he said he thinks the C-172 was chosen for its versatility and ease of flying. “To go from a Taylorcraft or an Aeronca or a Piper Cub, that’s quite an upgrade.” The C-182 was added “to get a little bit of speed with that same kind of ease of flying,” Larry said. “I think the Beech Bonanza was to have a little bit of a luxury aircraft and I think my dad had a little bit to do with that. He actually owned his own Bonanza.”
Each aircraft has been replaced just once since Larry joined in the early 1970s. In fact, the last time the club replaced an airplane was 25 years ago after the Bonanza crashed. The club has owned the two Cessnas since Presidents Ford and Carter were in office.
That consistency and the care the club puts into the aircraft have helped the Springville Flying Club be successful. The aircraft are all hangared, and that makes a huge difference in keeping the planes in good shape. Larry mentioned that both Cessnas have had several new engines, have been reupholstered, and have been repainted over the years.
“We’ve been around for a long time and we have a maintenance officer who looks after the airplanes as if they were his own,” Larry said. “We have to make sure that we aren’t just flying them for us, we’re flying them for 39 other people. You want to make sure everything is up to date, current, and ready to rock and roll.”
The club has had up to 40 members, and according to its website currently has 34 members. However, Larry said about a third of the members probably haven’t flown in 10 years or more but continue paying their dues, “They like the fact that they can say they have a key to an airplane in their pocket,” Larry said. He also mentioned the club is hoping the new BasicMed rules will encourage more members to start flying again.
With a low member-to-aircraft ratio, and a fair number of members who aren’t actively flying, availability of the aircraft isn’t an issue. The members that do fly, have been known to take some longer cross country trips. “We’ve had some great members of the club that have gone on some really great trips and done a lot of great things,” Larry said. The planes, particularly the Bonanza get flown all over the place. “I’ve had it myself in Seattle. I’ve had it in California. It’s been to Texas, the Midwest, Oshkosh, it’s been to Mexico, Canada,” Larry said. “It gets flown quite a bit. It’s been to the Dakotas, Montana, of course Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico.”
Dues are $70 a month and the club charges $120 an hour wet for the C-172, $145 an hour for the C-182, and $160 an hour for the Bonanza. The joining fee is $2,500 for access to the C-172 and $1,000 more for each additional aircraft. So for $4,500 members can fly any of the three planes, provided they are qualified and checked out in the type by a club instructor. About half of the members are checked out in all three aircraft.
A few changes over the years
While many things have remained the same over the years, a few changes have been made—mostly when it comes to finances. “When I got in the club, it cost $7 a month dues and it was $7 an hour to fly the 172,” Larry said. “The 182 was $9 an hour and the Beech Bonanza was $12 an hour.” And those rates included fuel!
The club handled insurance differently back then as well. “In those days we were self-insured,” Larry said. “We would take a dollar for every hour that [a plane] flew and put it away in a separate insurance account." Today the club has traditional hull and liability insurance.
“The nice thing about the club is that it’s a great opportunity to be able to fly some really great aircraft at a reasonable price,” Larry said. “Being in a club when you share that expense makes it so much more economical to fly, yet you still have great performance and the status of being able to fly a Beech Bonanza. To have a high performance aircraft in a club like that, keep it up and maintain it, I think is pretty commendable.”
|Name||Springville Flying Club|
|Location||Spanish Fork-Springville Airport (SPK), Spanish Fork, UT|
|Phone||(801) 873 3114|
|Aircraft|| 1971 Cessna 172L ($120/hr)
1973 Cessna 182P ($145/hr)
1968 Bonanza V35A ($160/hr) )
Rates are Tach time, wet
|Joining Fee|| $2,500 for Cessna 172
$3,500 for Cessna 172 and 182
$4,500 for Cessna 172, 181 and Bonanza