This month’s Club Connector focuses on an important question: how can we share aviation?
Sometimes the world of flying can feel insular. We, as pilots, spend much of our time at airports that—in the years since 9/11—have become increasingly isolated from the communities that surround them. To say that barriers have arisen between airport users and the general public is not just hyperbole, as actual walls and fences are becoming more prevalent—fences that separate airport operations from inquiring eyes and minds.
While airports have (in many cases) become more closed off, it is important that we not forget our surrounding communities. As general aviation pilots, we are incredibly lucky, as we partake in a kind of freedom that many people only dream about. This freedom should not be taken for granted. Instead, we should take every opportunity to share all that is great about aviation with those around us so that they too can see its benefits and—beyond that—just how fun it is to fly!
The theme of sharing aviation with others is woven throughout the articles in this edition. Our Question of the Month addresses the issue directly, by asking (and answering) what a club can do to help with community awareness and outreach. From hosting a movie night or an open house to engaging in public benefit flying, there are myriad ways for clubs to reach out to their communities—this article might give you some ideas! Our Club Spotlight revisits The Flying Neutrons—a club that exemplifies exceptional outreach through charitable flying. Recently, it hosted a public event at Lebanon-Warren County Airport to celebrate the completion of a new hangar—an event that you can read about in detail in this month’s Event Spotlight. Finally, the Safety article takes a look at things to consider if your club has any interest in public benefit flying.
We hope that in reading this edition you might think of ways that YOUR club can share the fun and excitement of flying with your surrounding community.
Flying Again: Spring Checklist
Spring is finally upon us! As the weather continues to improve and the cold, dreary days of winter give way to the far more flyable days of spring, clubs in many parts of the country will likely see a significant uptick in activity. It’s a time to fire up the barbeque, catch up with pilots in neighboring hangars, and maybe even organize a club fly-out.
While the arrival of warmer, flyable weather is something to be celebrated, it is important not to spring into the air too quickly. It is always good practice to stop and reflect on the amount you’ve flown over the winter, and to think about how you would judge your current level of proficiency. For some pilots, this is admittedly not an issue, as they may fly extensively even during the winter months. For others, however, winter’s short days and frigid temperatures prevent them from flying as much as they might like. While these pilots may be current to fly and even carry passengers in the eyes of the FAA, they might not feel completely on top of their game after a protracted time of inactivity.
If winter has left you feeling a bit rusty, it might be good to find an instructor to take up a time or two to begin the season—just to ensure that you feel confident again prior to taking off alone (or with a passenger). Spring also represents an ideal time to revisit your personal minimums, and to reflect on whether you are still comfortable with them. That 10-knot crosswind that seemed little challenge in the fall might suddenly cause sweaty palms for the aviator who is out of practice.
Another consideration to keep in mind as flying season begins involves the aircraft—has it changed in any way? Has any new equipment been installed, or new avionics? Has the Garmin been upgraded? If so, it is always best to familiarize yourself with alterations or new technology on the ground as opposed to, well, on the fly. Finally, don’t forget to update your flight bag (whether it be physical or electronic). Charts, whether they be paper or provided as part of a subscription such as Foreflight, can easily expire. This spring, make a conscious effort to ensure that all of your materials are current, and that both you and the aircraft are ready for flying season again. As always, be safe out there!
Sun 'N Fun: First Report
The Florida event lived up to its name this year, with ample quantities of both Sun and Fun. As always, AOPA was on site all week with a large tent in which members could peruse AOPA merchandise, renew their memberships, and receive on-site help from AOPA Finance, Insurance, and Pilot Protection Services representatives. Next door, the AOPA Pavilion buzzed with hourly seminars during the day and became a hub for social events in the evening.
The Flying Clubs Social attracted more than 65 club members of Friday night, where Steve Bateman, AOPA Director of Flying Clubs, hosted a program covering the details of the Flying Clubs Initiative. During the program, he talked about the progress that AOPA has made in helping new clubs form and take flight. While conversing with a flying club member at the event, Steve discovered that the KVZA Flying Club in Rock Hill, South Carolina is now fully operational. This club, which operates a Citabria 7ECA, represents the 14th flying club that AOPA has helped form thus far in 2018. We in the Flying Clubs Initiative would like to offer hearty congratulations to the newest club in our network!
AOPA President Mark Baker spoke at the social, emphasizing the important role that flying clubs play in making general aviation an active and vibrant community.
One club brought its banner to the social, and challenged other clubs to do the same later this year for the Flying Clubs Social at AirVenture. Who knows? This could be the beginning of a fun ongoing tradition!
Promoting Your Club Events with AOPA
Now that warmer weather is here, it is a great time to begin to host club social activities, whether they be aimed at aviators or the public at large. One question that we often get from clubs is how to best get the word out about upcoming events. Well, AOPA’s Flying Clubs Initiative can help! If your club is planning an open house, seminar, fly-out, or other activity that you would like to promote, let us know at [email protected]. Send us the relevant details, and we will help you by publicizing your event in The Club Connector.
Another excellent way to spread the word about an event is to post information about it on the AOPA Flying Clubs Network Facebook group—a group that is currently more than 9,000 members strong (and counting!). Using AOPA resources to supplement more traditional advertising methods can give your event the boost it needs to draw a crowd of interested aviators.
Need a Club Aircraft? Yellow Bird for Sale
Is your flying club looking to buy an additional head-turning aircraft in order to expand? Or, is your newly-forming club looking to make an initial purchase that is cost effective while also epitomizing the idea of fun? If so, we would suggest taking a look at the reimagined Cessna 152 that AOPA has available for sale. As you may recall from the March edition of Club Connector, the organization decided to sell two of its 152s. Since that time, one has sold, which means that if your club is contemplating a purchase it should act now! The aircraft has been completely and painstakingly refurbished by Aviat in partnership with AOPA, and can be operated for a mere $81 per hour—a cost which includes fuel!
As an additional incentive, any AOPA Network Flying Club that purchases the reimagined Cessna 152 will receive an immediate 10% discount off the original price. For more details, contact Rodney Martz at [email protected].
As has become a Club Connector tradition in 2018, we would like to recognize the latest clubs that AOPA's Flying Clubs Initiative has helped to start. This month, we welcomed 4 more clubs into the Flying Clubs Network family. This means that we have helped 13 clubs become operational this year, and are well on our way to our goal of 35!
Details and links to the 4 most recent additions to the Flying Clubs Network are as follows:
Corben Flying Club
C29, Middleton, WI
In the Pattern Flying Club
KDTO, Denton, TX
Austin Light Sport
KGTU, Georgetown, TX
The Westminster Aerobats Flying Club, Inc.
KDMW, Westminster, MD