As the weather gets warmer and flying season takes off, it is a popular time to think about starting or joining a flying club. In last month’s Club Connector, we focused on clubs in formation, and looked at the various steps involved in building a flying club from the ground up. This month is a continuation of that edition, and we will focus on the early phases of a club’s lifecycle—both as it comes together and where it can go after forming. We will also look at some of the resources that AOPA has for clubs that are getting started.
At Sun ‘N Fun, AOPA’s Flying Clubs Initiative announced the 100th flying club that it has helped to form in the history of the program. Members of the Midway Flying Club—based in Midlothian, TX—were on hand to be recognized by AOPA president Mark Baker and flying clubs initiative director Steve Bateman at the Pilot Town Hall. The Midway Flying Club used a variety of AOPA resources, including a flying club seminar and the help of ambassador Pat Brown, as they went through formation—their story will be the focus of this month’s Club Spotlight. We’ll also examine how hosting AOPA seminars can be a great way for clubs to find new members in the Event Spotlight.
Sometimes, after the initial excitement and the flurry of activity that accompanies the formation process, new flying clubs find that after the first few months member participation stagnates as other life commitments demand the attention of the member base. The question presents itself: how do you maintain momentum and energy within a club after it has become operational? Steve Bateman provides some ideas in his answer to April’s Question of the Month.
Finally, if you—like many pilots—have flown less over the course of the winter than you plan to during the warmer months, do you feel confident that you are as comfortable and proficient in an aircraft as you were at the end of the last flying season? Our Safety article provides different Air Safety Institute frameworks that you can use to self-evaluate were you stand, and to think about your personal minimums prior to taking to the skies this spring.
Whether your club is in formation, newly formed, or simply looking for ways to reinvigorate your member base as enthusiasm flags, we hope that this edition is helpful to you.
AOPA Launches New Flying Clubs Resources
If you have been on AOPA’s Flying Club Initiative web site recently, you might have noticed that AOPA’s resource library for flying clubs has undergone numerous exciting updates. These updates represent the first broad, substantial changes to flying clubs materials since the initiative’s inception in 2014. Since that time, AOPA employees in You Can Fly have been actively working with clubs of all types across the United States, helping them to form and grow. During this period, many lessons have been learned on topics ranging from forming a legal entity to tax issues, from airplane purchases to best practices for crafting bylaws. Flying clubs initiative manager Michael Hangartner feels that this time has given AOPA the experience necessary to craft resources for clubs that are more comprehensive than ever. “Every time we talk on the phone with a flying club, not only do we pass along information to them, but we also learn from their situations. This learning means our knowledge base is constantly evolving, because we are always looking for ways to better serve other clubs in the future.”
Even if you were previously familiar with AOPA’s flying clubs resources, you are likely to find new (and valuable) information in the new online and PDF guides—particularly if you are thinking of starting a club. The initiative’s new How to Start a Flying Club guide will take you—step by step—through the process of putting a new club together, from finding founding members and writing a mission statement to running the new club on a day-to-day basis. There are also numerous sample documents that are readily available to be adapted for your club—documents that include lease agreements, articles of organization, bylaws, and more! If you have ever pondered starting a club of your own, we strongly recommend checking out the changes we’ve made, as our resource library offers the most comprehensive information on starting flying clubs you are likely to find.
Flying Clubs Initiative at Sun 'N Fun
April got off to a roaring start in central Florida as AOPA hosted two very well attended gatherings of flying club members and prospective flying club members from across the country. Bratwurst and icy cold beverages hit the spot as the sun sunk low in the sky for the Flying Club Social on the evening of Friday, April 5. AOPA’s Director, Flying Clubs Initiative, Steve Bateman held sway using wit and wisdom as he shared tremendous insights about how effective and enjoyable flying clubs can be.
On Saturday, Florida You Can Fly Ambassador Jamie Beckett presented a Maximum Fun, Minimum Cost, How to Start and Operate a Flying Club seminar. As so often happens, experienced club members graciously shared their insights with folks from other clubs, augmenting the efforts AOPA staff offered directly. The value of club members helping and offering guidance to other club members is one of the great benefits of the gatherings at major fly-ins AOPA participates in – including AOPA’s Regional Fly-Ins, of which there are three this year.
Join Us at HQ for the Frederick Fly-In
On May 15, 2019, AOPA will celebrate its 80th Anniversary. To be part of this historic occasion, join us at the Frederick Fly-In on the weekend of May 10-11! The Frederick Fly-In—the first of three that will be held across the U.S. in 2019—will feature expanded content, with fresh programming and exciting activities sure to make the experience memorable.
Home to AOPA’s headquarters, Frederick, MD offers a perfect blend of historical and modern entertainment for the entire family. Visit the Frederick Fly-In web page to find out more about the fly-in schedule, local attractions, and ways to register or volunteer for the event. We hope to see you there!