News from HQ: A Community of Clubs

A Community of Clubs

If there is anything consistent among flying clubs, it is their diversity.  There are myriad different types of clubs in AOPA’s Flying Clubs Network—clubs of different sizes that fly different types of aircraft on different missions.  Some clubs are new; AOPA’s Flying Clubs Initiative has helped to form over twenty-five in 2018 alone.  Others have long histories, and have been in continuous operation for decades.  In this issue of the Club Connector, we celebrate the rich diversity of flying clubs by focusing on instances of multiple clubs coming together, both to learn from one another and to socialize. 

Flying Club Initiative Hosts First Flying Clubs Workshop

An exciting example of clubs coming together to socialize with each other as well as to learn recently took place right here at AOPA headquarters in Frederick, MD.  On August 4, over twenty members from ten different flying clubs in the Mid-Atlantic region attended the Flying Clubs Initiative’s first Flying Clubs Workshop, which was held in AOPA’s You Can Fly Academy.  The all-day workshop featured a variety of seminars on flying club topics including strategic management, social engagement, maintenance, and safety, and allowed club members to both learn best practices suggested by AOPA and share their own experiences with other clubs. 

“The real value of the seminar was allowing members from different clubs to get together in the same room and share ideas,” stated Michael Hangartner, Manager of the Flying Clubs Initiative.  “Every club has had its own experiences, and they have tackled issues in different ways.  Not only did the workshop allow us to pass along knowledge we’ve gained in the Flying Clubs Initiative, but it was a great learning experience for us as well.” 

You can read more about the first Flying Clubs Workshop in this month’s Event Spotlight, which details the topics covered in seminars throughout the day and offers a closer look at some of the clubs in attendance.  The focus of our Club Spotlight—the TSS Flying Club based in Gaithersburg, MD—not only attended the workshop, but also provided volunteers to speak in sessions on safety and maintenance. 

One of the concepts that was presented at the workshop was how to build a healthy safety culture within a flying club—a concept that is addressed in this month’s Safety article.  Another topic that sparked discussion within a seminar—whether or not club members should purchase liability insurance in addition to that which is provided by the club—is examined in our Question of the Month.

Clubs Converge at Oshkosh

AirVenture 2018 shattered records, with 601,000 people attending the annual week-long event in Oshkosh, WI.  This number marked a 2 percent increase in comparison to last year’s show, which was itself a record-breaker.  Over 10,000 aircraft flew in to Wittman Regional Airport and others in the area, including 3,000 show planes.  Good weather and an exciting mix of aircraft made for a truly unforgettable aviation celebration.  One of the best ways to experience Oshkosh is as a flying club, and members of clubs across the United States flew in to participate in the event. 

Several AOPA representatives from You Can Fly’s Flying Clubs Initiative were present at Oshkosh, including initiative Director Steve Bateman and Manager Michael Hangartner.  Steve hosted a Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost flying club seminar, as well as the ever-popular Flying Clubs Social.  The social was an unmitigated success, with over 100 members of flying clubs from coast to coast in attendance.  At the event, members enjoyed the unique camaraderie that can only be experienced in a tent full of aviators.  Several clubs brought their banners to the social, which featured prominently in the décor. 

Throughout the week, we in the Flying Clubs Initiative had opportunities to speak with pilots thinking about forming clubs, as well as with members of clubs already in existence.  To all of our readers who stopped by with questions, comments, or just to say “hello”, it was great to see you!

Next Stop for AOPA: Santa Fe

AirVenture may be over, but that doesn’t mean the fun is winding down this summer.  AOPA will be hosting its next regional fly-in in Santa Fe on September 14-15, and it promises to be an exciting event for the whole family.  Like all AOPA Fly-Ins, Santa Fe will feature amazing aircraft, educational seminars, and stimulating speakers.  These qualities—along with Santa Fe’s beautiful, vibrant setting—should make it a fly-in to remember. 

If you attend the fly-in at Santa Fe and are interested in starting or growing a flying club, we have the perfect seminar for you!  Join Senior Director of Pilot Community Development Les Smith as he delivers a Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost seminar on Saturday at 9 a.m.  The presentation—which will focus on how to grow a flying club—represents a great opportunity to pick up some valuable tips on club management, as well as to socialize with other club members in your region.  We hope to see you there!

Rusty Pilots Initiative Celebrates 5000th Pilot Back in the Air

The AOPA Rusty Pilots program, launched in 2014 as a component of the organization’s You Can Fly initiative, recently hit an exciting milestone—its 5,000th success story.  The Rusty Pilots team recently contacted Ted Malone via Skype to inform him that he was number 5,000 on the list of pilots in the program to regain currency. 

Rusty Pilots participants attend local seminars hosted by flight schools to get up to speed on changes that have occurred in the aviation world since they flew, which for many attendees is decades.  They then fly with a flight instructor to complete a flight review and regain the confidence to serve as pilot in command—no checkride required.   

Malone, a 300-hour pilot who fell away from aviation when “life got in the way,” had begun to believe that he had been out of the cockpit too long to return.  After attending a seminar in Scottsdale, however, he found that it was “incredibly simple” to dispel his fears and return to flight.  According to Rusty Pilots Specialist Donnie MacKay—himself a former rusty pilot—this experience is a common one. 

“Everybody you talk to says the flying part comes right back—it’s like you never left it,” MacKay explains.  He says that he found this to be true as well.  “My first landing was a really good landing, and that was after a long time of being out of an airplane.” 

When asked what his message would be to other rusty pilots out there, MacKay didn’t hesitate.  “If it’s something you’re considering, attend a seminar.  The fact that more than 5,000 people have already gotten back to flying—the majority of whom have been rusty for more than 8 or 10 years—means that you can do it too.” 

New Clubs

We in the Flying Clubs Initiative would like to welcome the following newly-established clubs to AOPA's Flying Clubs Network:

Alamo City Flying Pilots, based at Stinson Municipal Airport (KSSF) in San Antonio, Texas

Gulf Coast Regional Flying Club, based at Texas Gulf Coast Regional Airport (KLBX) in Lake Jackson, Texas

Pilot Partner Flying Club, based at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS) in Austin, Texas

Here's wishing all three new clubs blue skies and tailwinds!



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