News From HQ: Looking Back, Moving Forward

As I (Steve) write this, it is January 1st 2023…with a whole year of opportunities ahead of us!  Happy New Year to all our faithful readers.

Drew normally writes this section as well as Safety, and Steve pens Question of the Month, but to mix it up a bit, we are swapping for this, the first Club Connector of 2023...welcome!

Let’s take a quick look back at 2022…no. not a “Director’s Cut” or anything so lazy, but at some of our proud moments and achievements:

  • We helped start 21 new flying clubs in 2022, on a goal of 20
  • We celebrated the 200th flying club that the Flying Clubs Initiative helped get started—The Lake Shelbyville Flying Club
  • We returned to hosting the ever-popular Flying Clubs Social Event at AirVenture, with more than 120 flying club members participating—a fun time was had by all!
  • We presented three very well attended Flying Club Workshops, held four fantastic Aviation Days, attended 28 flying club meetings and, collectively, presented no fewer than 30 safety presentations to flying club members…all earning WINGS credits
  • We recorded 12 editions of flying clubs radio and we published 12 on-time editions of Club Connector
  • Subscriptions to our newsletter Club Connector, grew to almost 13,000—thank you!
  • The annual Flying Clubs survey was launched on time in November.We’ll do a review of the results in the February Club Connector.
  • Congratulations to our Survey Sweepstakes winner! The Brighton Flying Club in Brighton Michigan were this year’s lucky club. They won a brand-new Sporty’s PJ2 handheld transceiver!

We have some bold plans for 2023, not least helping to start 22 new flying clubs, maintaining the readership and exceptional open-rate of this newsletter, adding to our well-used web-based resources, more modules in our (perhaps…hopefully…some being in-person) Workshops, club social events at AirVenture and Sun ‘N Fun, and expanding on the theme of Aviation Days, where we work with airport managers and flying clubs to offer a day of GA-specific activities including Rusty Pilot seminars, flying club presentations and WINGS safety programs.  Interested?  Let us know…! 

In the shorter term, Steve will be attending and presenting seminars at the Buckeye Air Fair in February, and will then head up north for the Northwest Aviation Conference, again in February.

A big goal for your devoted Flying Clubs Team in 2023 is to help form at least two flying clubs at High Schools that use the AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Curriculum.  When you think about liability issues, parents’ concerns, funding and logistics, this is not in any way an easy proposition, but we believe we have a way through the maze—see the May 2022 Question of the Month for more information on this hot topic.

Don’t forget our commitment to mention your club’s anniversary on these pages.  If you club is about to celebrate a major milestone, please do let us know so we can cheer you on.

So, back to January 2023.

In this edition, we take a detailed look at flying for the benefit of the wider community and the role that flying club members can have in these worthwhile causes.   A word of caution though.  Flying clubs themselves should not operate for the sole purpose of providing anything, not even what might be considered as essential community services such as any sort of mercy flights.   Clubs are made up of members—and it is the members who decide how and when to fly the club plane(s).  In other words, flying clubs—and club members—must abide by the FAA rules for charity flights and especially flights for compensation…a point that is well made in this month’s Question of the Month and Club Spotlight sections.

The Club Connector Safety sections are loosely based on the FAASTeam Topics of the Month.  As you know, Steve and Drew are both FAASTeam Safety Representatives and believe so strongly in the power of proficiency that we launched WINGS for Clubs a few years back.   This program—where all club members earn a phase of WINGS every year—helps to prevent accidents, reduces insurance claims and so helps to curb insurance premium hikes.  Moreover, if all members’ WINGS transcripts are included with the insurance application paperwork, we are pretty sure that you will receive a decent “safety discount”—and if you don’t, question your insurance agent.

This month’s Safety topic is “Introduction to Safety Risk Management (SRM)”.   This sounds a bit dry but is a topic that is well worth our time and consideration.  This falls under the wider heading of Aeronautical Decision Making, but SRM itself is to do with the assessment, understanding (of impact) and mitigation of risks.  Flying does, of course, involve risk, but there are methods and tools available for us to assess the severity and collectively impact of aviation risks—and then to decide what to do about those risks.

Happy reading!

Stephen Bateman
Contributor, You Can Fly Program
Steve retired from AOPA in April 2024, but continues to contribute to You Can Fly programs. Contact Steve at [email protected]

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