AOPA members have been contacting the Flying Club team asking for advice on how a club should operate in these strange times. Given that every state and local area is different, there is no one-size-fits-all. Instead, we created a list of 10 things a club could think about during the pandemic:
- Understand and internalize your state and local rules and orders regarding the COVID situation. For example, the “Stay at Home” order by Maryland’s Governor doesn’t mention recreational flying, but it does list essential activities for which a person may leave home. So, while your airport may be open, travel to and from the airport is regulated by state and local officials, not the FAA or airport management.Many of these orders carry criminal penalties for non-compliance.
- Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Even if permitted under state and local orders, have an honest and detailed conversation about whether your club’s activities and operations can be safely, and indeed morally, conducted under current health guidelines.
- A club is a collection of responsible people, and as such, members need to take individual responsibility. The club’s board of directors must lead by example but should be very cautious about mandating behaviors, as this may expand responsibility and hence potential liability to the club.Consult with your general liability insurance carrier if there are any concerns about coverage for any claims related to operations during COVID-19.
- Keep up with club meetings. Use online tools to keep members in touch and engaged.
- Social distancing: Only people from the same household should be in the cockpit together.
- Every time you use the airplane, wipe down everything you touch, both pre- and post-flight.
- Fixed costs likely still have to be paid, so monthly dues must still be collected.
- Review your budget and cost structure to ensure that all fixed costs (hangar, insurance, annual, subscriptions, etc.) are met from monthly dues, and that the flying rate per-hour covers all flying costs. Contact Steve for more details and worksheets.
- Map-out the club’s cash flow over the next couple of months. Discuss payment schemes if some members legitimately cannot afford to keep up with dues.
- With all this time on your hands:
- Revisit your mission statement, bylaws, rules and general operations—they quickly become stale!
- Start a strategic planning project for future growth—we can help get you started on this.
Director, Flying Clubs Initiative
Steve is Director of the You Can Fly Flying Clubs Initiative, which helps start and grow flying clubs, nationwide. Steve is a CFI, an AOPA staff instructor, LSRM-A and FAASTeam lead representative. Contact Steve at [email protected]