Walt Tegeler started the Clearview Flying Club to encourage people to get into aviation and bring life back to a small airport in rural Maryland. Five years later, it’s safe to say he’s accomplished his mission.
“Our goal was to build aviation,” Walt said. “That’s what we’ve done. We’ve got a lot of young people and people who never flew before.”
The club, based at the privately owned (but public use) Clearview Airpark (2W2) located close to Westminster, Maryland, began with one plane in May 2016. Today it operates four aircraft—a Cessna 150, two Cessna 172s, and a Piper Cherokee. It has grown to 60 members—45 flying members, which is the cap, and 15 social members.
There are two aspects that have made the club successful—affordable access to aircraft and a club culture that encourages camaraderie and flying to fun destinations.
The club doesn’t have an initiation fee and dues are just $75 a month for flying members. However, new members are required to pay the first six months in advance, which works out to $450. Social members pay $25 a month and do not have flying privileges. They include pilots that own their own aircraft, pilots who are no longer flying, and aviation enthusiasts who enjoy the camaraderie of the club. Hourly rates (Hobbs time, wet) are very reasonable—$75 an hour for the 150 and $90 for the 172s and the Cherokee.
Culture of Camaraderie and Encouragement
The club encourages members to fly to fun destinations in the region. During monthly meetings there is time for members to share their flying adventures, and a monthly newsletter, which they began this year, has a regular article about destinations to fly to. The monthly meetings, now on Zoom, are social events to encourage member participation and interaction.
The meetings are the third Sunday of the month and prior to the pandemic when they were in person, there was always food. Walt would bring hotdogs and BBQ, and everyone else would bring a dish to share. In addition to club business, there is always some sort of presentation—either a safety discussion or a pilot sharing about their flying career, with time for members to share their recent flying adventures.
“During the meetings we build excitement by talking about different places people went and things to do that are fun when flying,” Walt said. “Having monthly meetings builds interest in flying because it keeps people thinking about it and they get ideas from others about what they’ve done.”
The club recently added a monthly newsletter that gives a recap of the prior meeting, a little teaser for the upcoming presentation at the next meeting, and suggestions on places to go or things going on. Richard Rain is the club’s Social Director and it’s his job in the meetings and newsletter to share interesting destinations you can fly to, easily.
Richard is a social member of the club—he owns a Cherokee and he and his wife are frequently flying to interesting destinations for more than a $100 hamburger. “My wife won’t just go get that burger. She wants to go and do something,” Richard said. “Someplace you can go and have fun instead of just flying to go get that burger.”
Walt asked Richard to share his experiences because “he’s always flying somewhere. He’s always trying to encourage others by sharing ideas and places he’s gone.”
The articles combine a mix of travel tips and flying tips. He wrote about flying to Tangier Island (TGI) in the Chesapeake Bay, a destination he goes to a few times a year.
“It is very close to military areas, restricted areas not MOAs,” Richard said. “I’ll give you some warnings about any flight restrictions in the area. Also, the airport is not attended, there is no FBO there. They like for people to put a few dollars in the box to help maintain the runway.”
But the main purpose of his stories is to get people excited about using the club plane to explore and go on adventures. “I’ll tell you a little about the place,” Richard said. “You want to say what’s there.”
Most people fly to Tangier for a lunch of fresh seafood—and Richard also suggests going to the beach. “They have a really beautiful sandy beach that nobody goes to,” he said. “If you think Ocean City has a really fine, sandy beach, well this one is even softer and nobody’s there.”
If you’re looking for something different, fly to Penn’s Cave near State College, PA. They have their own airport (N74), but Richard is quick to point out it’s really just a runway and nothing more. You can walk from your plane and take a 45-minute boat tour of an underground cave. During a monthly meeting, one of the member’s talked about their adventure going there. There also is a farm-nature-wildlife tour and other family friendly activities at Penn’s Cave.
If you like caves, Luray Caverns in Virginia is another destination to check out. The staff at the airport (LUA) consistently get great reviews and offer to drive people into town or to the caverns and back.
Some airports have courtesy cars and Richard recommends the website, www.airportcourtesycars.com, which has a listing and a map of airports across the country that offer courtesy cars. It also has a list of airport restaurants.
Another destination Richard suggested is the Piper Museum at Lock Haven, PA where the Piper Cub was produced. “If you call ahead, the lady there will make arrangements to show you around the museum.” There’s also an avionics shop that works on steam gauges. If your let them know you’re coming, they might do a demonstration where they open the instruments up and show you how they work.
Calling ahead is something Richard recommends. Some airports don’t advertise what’s available nearby, he noted. On one occasion an airport in North Carolina had a cabin available for $55 a night and kayaks, canoes, and bikes that you could rent. Richard only learned about it because he called and asked what sights and activities were in the area.
One way to discover new airports and destinations is to participate in Passport Programs where you can earn gifts for visiting airports and museums. AOPA has a Passport Program App where you can earn points and rewards for visiting airports, restaurants and historic landmarks.
Many states have them as well, including Maryland and Virginia. Clearview Flying Club member John Orechowski has completed both programs and earned a leather flight jacket from each state, which you can read about in this month’s Event Spotlight.
John often flew with other club members on his quest to visit every airport in the two states, encouraging them to build hours and complete the passport program for themselves. Besides providing a reason to fly, sharing flights is a great way to get to know other club members and even learn a few things.
“We encourage people that are just going for a flight to put it out there for others to join them,” Walt said. “A lot of what I learned in aviation was from flying with others. Everyone does it a little different, so you pick up pointers and that’s how you learn.”
Enthusiasm and camaraderie lead to lots of flying
Creating a culture of enthusiasm and camaraderie by encouraging members to use the club aircraft to go on adventures in the region has proved a successful formula. From the beginning, Walt who formed the club and serves as president, infused his passion and spirit for aviation, setting the tone for the club. “The biggest part of aviation for me is the socializing,” Walt said.
By encouraging members to fly together, whether it’s for a breakfast run or a more interesting day trip, and share those adventures in meetings or the newsletter has led to lots of flying. In an average year, the 172s log about 500 hours each, and the 150 and Cherokee each fly about 350 hours annually.
“We have so many places around here to go to,” Richard said. “Not only for a $100 burger, but things to do. It all depends on how far you want to go.”
Clearview Flying Club
Clearview Airpark (2W2), Westminster, MD
410-984-2434 or [email protected]
1969 Cessna 150J ($75/hr)
1968 Cessna 172L ($90/hr)
1975 Cessna 172M ($90/hr)
1965 Piper Cherokee 180 ($90/hr)
Rates are Hobbs time, wet.
None - First six months dues paid in advance ($450 or $150)
$75 per month – Flying Members
$25 per month – Social Members
45 Flying members (Capped at 45 and waiting list)
15 Social members