News From HQ: Achieving Goals – More People Flying More

The AOPA Flying Club initiative finished up 2017 on a high note.  Just before the holidays, we achieved the goal of helping start 30 new flying clubs in the year.  Given a median of 15 members per club, this translates into around 450 more people in flying clubs.  As part of this, we delivered 34 live seminars in the Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost series that helped kick-start nascent clubs along the path towards operational status.  The AOPA Ambassadors also presented 50 Rusty Pilot seminars, which in 2017 helped returned 2,264 pilots to currency, and the five Ambassadors attended more than 100 aviation events throughout the year.  Quite a year of hard work, but with excellent results to show for it!

Ambitious Goals for 2018

A concise way of expressing the mission of the Flying Cubs Initiative is “More People, Flying More” and this is reflected in our 2018 goals and objectives.  We are seeing active interest in starting flying clubs across the country as people appreciate the economies of scale of shared ownership, as well as the built-in social opportunities provided by flying clubs.

So, we have set ourselves the goal of helping form at least 35 new clubs in 2018.  The Flying Club staff and the Ambassadors will continue to provide direct and personal help to club founders, and we will be rewriting the Flying Club resources to provide new website content, as well updating the comprehensive “Guide to Starting a Flying Club.”

We received excellent reviews from the Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost flying club seminars presented in 2017, so we’ll continue to offer this interactive presentation on how to start, run, and benefit from flying clubs.  In fact, we have set the goal of delivering 40 seminars in 2018, which will include face-to-face presentations as well as live webinars.  Through webinars, we will be able to reach more locations than ever before.

We will also be tracking a number of performance metrics that will help us determine the effectiveness of several projects we’ll be undertaking in 2018.  The projects are designed to:

  • Increase the number of people in network clubs
  • Increase the number of hours flown by club members
  • Increase the percentage of clubs that hold safety meetings

One such project is to increase the benefits available to network members in terms of tools and discounts.  We’ve based this on feedback received from the 2017 annual flying clubs survey – and we’ll be doing another survey in 2018.  In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts – what can the AOPA Flying Clubs team provide that will help you operate your club?  Please email your ideas to:  [email protected]

If you know of a new club that is forming in your area, please let them know about the AOPA Flying Club Initiative, and that we have a group of experienced pilots ready to help them through the process.

Network Flying Club Data:

At the end of 2017 we counted more than 800 clubs in the AOPA Flying Club database, but in the same year, we only received 140 responses to the annual flying club survey.  Bounced emails pointed to stale contact information, or perhaps the clubs were no longer operational.  Also, looking through the data, we realized that many clubs have changed web sites, phone numbers, etc., and most have changed their board members and officers since they first registered with the network. Others still have changed the number of airplanes and members.  It became clear that we needed to update the information in the club directory – if we can’t contact you, then neither can prospective club members, which is one of the big benefits of being listed in the Flying Club Finder tool. 

Over the next few weeks you may be contacted by one the flying club initiative team members and asked a few questions about your club.  We’ll keep it short:

  • Verify/update contact information, especially a club email address and phone number
  • We see an increasing number of clubs using a “contact us” form on their web site, but we really need an actual email address, so we can send you club-related information
  • Name, phone number and email address for the club President, Secretary, Membership, and Safety officers. Again, this allows us to send appropriate information to the right people
  • Verify the current web site and Facebook page addresses
  • Update the number of aircraft and members in the club
  • Determine the approximate numbers of hours flown by club aircraft each year

Thanks in advance for your help with this – it is important that we have up-to-date information so we can better serve our network clubs.  If you prefer, feel free to send us the above information by email, to: [email protected]

Rusty Club Members:

Do you have rusty pilots in your club or in your circle of friends?  The term rusty refers to a pilot who hasn’t flown for a while – the exact period doesn’t really matter, as it all depends on an individual’s comfort level and the knowledge and skills needed for a successful flight review.

In addition to the Flying Clubs Initiative, the You Can Fly program also includes Rusty Pilots, which has the shared goal of getting more pilots flying.  The Rusty Pilot team’s primary method of achieving this goal is to hold seminars around the country.  These are three-hour, highly interactive, scenario-based seminars designed to immerse rusty pilots in airspace, regulations, currency, and other important areas – and the reward at the end of the class is an endorsement towards the ground part of a flight review.  All a rusty pilot then needs to do is team-up with a flight instructor, get comfortable in the left seat and complete the remaining parts of the flight review endorsement.

The seminars are held around the country and are typically hosted by flight schools, with CFIs available to immediately work with the rusty pilots.  To date, the program has returned an estimated 5,045 pilots to the left seat, with many joining or forming flying clubs to get the benefits of affordable access to aircraft, with a built-in support system of mentoring and camaraderie.

So, if you know of a rusty pilot in your club, or perhaps are one yourself, then it is never too late to relive the dream.  Check out the Rusty Pilots web site for a seminar near you, or talk with your local flight school about hosting a rusty pilot event.

Fly lots and fly safe!

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