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News from Headquarters: Old Clubs Staying Young

As Father Time brings 2023 to a close and flying clubs notch-up another year of operations, we take a look at a few clubs that have weathered the storm for decades…9 and 10 decades in some cases.  Yeah…some flying clubs started in the 1920’s and 1930’s and are still operating today!  How did they do it?  How did they survive wars, great depressions, recessions, fuel shortages, changing regulations…and more?  Well, we asked some of these clubs to tell us—see this month’s Club Spotlight for details.  

Question of the Month continues the “old club” theme by asking How Can Flying Clubs Stay Modern?  where Steve offers some ideas for clubs to keep up with the times.

This month’s safety section deals with aeroplane performance—if the club plane has been keeping up with members’ expectations, it is likely to be very different from when it popped out of the factory all those years ago.  So, how will Gigi actually perform on a 100F day at a 7,200’ AGL airport?

Oldest Club in The Nation

As mentioned last month, we regularly hear from members who claim that their club is “the oldest in the state”, so we decided to challenge clubs to provide some information such that we can get to the bottom of this, and by extension, which club can lay claim to the esteemed title, “Oldest Flying Club In USA”.  (We have reason to believe that the oldest flying club in the world is in France, Belgium, or England—albeit with balloons or gliders—but that will be a separate project!).

The response to our challenge has so far been a little disappointing,  but we’ll keep trying—if you have an inkling that your club might be “old”, please follow this procedure.  We’ll publish our findings and crown the victors in an upcoming edition of Club Connector.

Please send an email to [email protected]

Subject Line:  Oldest Club Entry

Body of email:

  1. Name of club: <Your response>
  2. State of operation: <Your response>
  3. Date of establishment: <Your response>
  4. Airport ID (three-character ID): <Your response>
  5. Your name: <Your response>
  6. Your email address (not the clubs, yours): <Your response>
  7. Your phone number (not the clubs, yours): <Your response>
  8. Been in continuous operation?: Yes or No
  9. With the same airplane: Yes or No
  10. If yes, make/model/year: <Your response>
  11. Comments:<Your response>
Many thanks to those clubs that participated in the annual flying clubs survey, which polled every club listed on the AOPA Flying Club Finder—we'll share the results early next year.  We now have some very interesting data to help us plan our activities and resources for 2024 and beyond. 

On the topic of the survey, congratulations to the winner of the sweepstakes drawing.  The Flying Club based at East Windsor, CT, is now the proud owner of a Sporty's PJ2 handheld radio.

IMPORTANT: FinCEN’s Beneficial Ownership Information Rule (BOI): IMPORTANT

I’ve been writing about this new reporting requirement for almost a year, and in the past had to say that we don’t have more information—until now!

As the owner of an LLC in Oregon, I recently received an email from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office with more details about who needs to comply, and how.  I have no idea if all states will be issuing such notices, but as with all things to do with the government, ignorance is no defense.  Be advised that this is a Federal requirement, so all LLCs and corporations, nationwide, need to understand it and take appropriate action. 

There are several classifications of business entities that are exempt from complying with the new requirement.  In the scope of flying clubs, it appears that all clubs other than those established as non-profit entities within their state (which does not include LLCs) AND  possess a formal letter of approval from the IRS granting tax exempt status (presumably under 501(c)(7)), will be required to file the report. 

Remember, establishing a flying club as a non-profit corporation in your state is not the same as being an approved tax-exempt entity with the IRS—these are two separate processes, and if you don’t hold a letter of approval from the IRS, you will likely have to file the new report.  See chapter four of The Guide to Starting a Flying Club for more information of club structure and tax exemption.

The good news, if any, is that there is now a website for this program, but I suggest you first read the new Small Entity Compliance Guide that gives details on who, when and how to file this report. 

It appears this is not an annual requirement, but rather a one-time report, except for changes or corrections.  What exactly is meant by “changes” is not well defined.  For example, if a member of an equity club leaves and another joins, will a new report be required?  I don’t know.

So, you now know what we know.  Please follow the instructions and Contact FinCEN to confirm whether your club entity is required to report. 

Please do not email the flying clubs team or AOPA legal about this.  We simply do not have any more details than those on the FinCEN website and in the Small Entity Compliance Guide.

For more background on this whole thing, see Ian Arendt’s original article here, that contains a link to the actual ruling, and here is Ian’s latest article “Unanswered Questions: Beneficial Ownership Information Rule update”.

Just for completeness, here is the link I received about this from Oregon Secretary of State Office.  Again, this is a federal reporting requirement so do not assume that you will get a similar notification from your state.  At least for the first year, treat this as one more report in addition to the annual “good standing” report to the state and tax returns and/or filings.

For more information on flying clubs being “in good standing”, see the July 2023 Question of the Month:  What does being in good standing mean for flying clubs?

Scholarship Applications Are Open!

Want to win $10,000 to put towards flight training?   The AOPA Foundation Scholarship Program offers many types of aviation scholarships. From earning a primary certificate, to career advancement, to gaining additional ratings, we have scholarships to support nearly all aviation aspirations. Take a look, here.

Help Support Scholarships

Whilst you are at it, please think about donating to the AOPA Foundation, which provides these scholarships…and more.  Now is a great time to do this as tax season is approaching and donations are tax deductible…win-win!  Even better, there is a matching challenge in place – double your impact!  You can read more about the matching challenge here, and donate to the cause, here.

Stephen Bateman

Flying Clubs Initiative
Steve leads 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]

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