Here at HQ, we are often asked some variation of the following questions:
One of the many gratifying things about flying clubs is just how eager members are to help each other. We find also that members of one club are usually more than happy to talk to members of other clubs – but perhaps they don’t know how to initiate the contact or what help they might offer.
This month, we’ll look at a few ways that clubs can find and help each other, from both the receiving and the giving side of the relationship.
If you are searching for help, give us a call at AOPA HQ (1.800.USA.AOPA) or reach out to the AOPA Ambassador in your area. As well as helping start new clubs, the flying clubs team also works with existing clubs on topics such as operations, budgeting, strategic planning, and more. We also are in frequent contact with clubs nationwide, so chances are that we know a club who could provide some practical help and advice.
A good example of this happened recently when an officer of a 60-member club called and asked for help on better ways to track maintenance of their fleet of 5 aircraft. We pointed him towards the TSS Flying Club in Gaithersburg, which is similar in size and fleet, and their maintenance officer was able to share the methods they use to track maintenance.
Another way to find clubs is to use the AOPA Flying Club Finder tool. This map-based tool lets you search for a flying club simply by using key words such as airport ID, club name, zip code and even a state’s abbreviation. For example, a search for “MD” will display a map of Maryland, showing all flying clubs as symbols at their specific locations.
Clubs that are just starting can also be listed in the Finder—these Clubs in Formation can use the tool to locate an established club in their neighborhood, by utilizing the same key word searches. Using the “advanced search” option lets you narrow the search even more, by using parameters such as Tailwheel, High Performance, Complex, and others.
Once you have located a club in the Finder, simply click on its symbol and then “View Club." This takes you to a page on the new AOPA Destinations website that is dedicated to the selected club. There you will see information that includes the number of members and aircraft, the facilities that the club offers, and, importantly, contact information for club officers.
In addition to AOPA staff and the Flying Club Finder, there are several other ways to get in contact with other clubs. If you are not already a member, consider joining the AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook page. It is a “closed group," so you will have to request access, but then you’ll be able to post information and requests. This is a vibrant social-media community, so questions such as “Does anyone know anything about…?” will get a good number of responses. Feel free to use the page to post notices, photos, club news, or inform the community about an upcoming event.
Many clubs post detailed information on their own websites and/or Facebook pages. You may be able to view and download copies of bylaws, operating rules, aircraft checklists etc., and perhaps see a social calendar that could give you ideas for events to hold at your own club. Using the Flying Club Finder, you can click on a website or Facebook link that will take you directly to the club’s own site or page.
It is often useful to chat with an officer of the same title in a different club – maintenance officer talking to maintenance officer, for example. Many clubs provide information about their officers in the “Club Contacts” section of their Flying Club Finder page, but all clubs will at least list a general email address and telephone number, so don’t be shy in making contact.
Once clubs contact each other, the relationship often grows into one of mutual mentoring and help, so we are developing other ways for clubs to meet and work together. The Flying Clubs team recently held the first Flying Club Workshop at the AOPA You Can Fly Academy in Frederick, MD—an event designed specifically to foster interaction between clubs.
The clubs that attended the Workshop have remained in contact, providing insight and advice to one another. We’ll be facilitating two more Workshops this year, and plan to organize more in different parts of the country in 2019. If you hear about one in your area, please sign up and attend – they work better when there is a good mix of clubs in terms of size (members and aircraft), aircraft type, operations structure, etc., so come along both to learn from other clubs and to share your own experiences.