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News from HQ: How Healthy is Your Club?

This Month’s Theme:  Healthy Flying Clubs

Thinking about a “hierarchy of needs” goes a long way to understanding the many factors that influence the health of flying clubs.  How do we know this?  Well, some time back we asked twelve diverse flying clubs to share their inner workings and thoughts.  See this month’s Question of the Month for the full story.  We follow this general theme in Club Spotlight, where we talk with a club that caught the attention of the local FSDO…and emerged stronger and better.  In Resource Spotlight, we gaze at another facet of club health, that of contingency planning—what if—and we talk with a New Hampshire club that recently added a Club Mishap Guide to its operating documents.  Completing this edition, the November Safety section looks at how “Normalization of Deviance” can result in the erosion of safety standards—with predictable results.

Change Brings Opportunities:

This is the first edition of Club Connector for more than four years without input from my friend, Drew Myers.  As mentioned last month, Drew shifted career direction into airport management, and is now Assistant Airport Manager at College Park airport, Maryland (KCGS).  Please send me an email if you had been working with Drew on any flying club matters.

 

Psst…want to work for AOPA at the Frederick, Maryland, headquarters?  

The position of Manager, Flying Clubs Initiative has been posted on the AOPA job opportunities website…take a look, here.

 

Oldest Club in The Nation

We get many emails from club officers who proudly tell us they are “the oldest flying club in the state”.  Some are even bolder and suggest that they are oldest in the nation.  So, it is time.  Let’s get to the bottom of this.  Which clubs really are the oldest in each state, and then in the country?

We’ll run a “competition” for a couple of months, then report back our findings in a future Club Connector edition.

Instructions.  (Failure to follow will void the entry, as collection will be automated!):

Send an email to [email protected]

Subject Line:  Oldest Club Entry

Body of email (In this order—nothing more, nothing less!):

  1. Name of club:
  2. State of operation:
  3. Date of establishment:
  4. Airport ID (three-character ID):
  5. Your name:
  6. Your email address (not the clubs, yours):
  7. Your phone number (not the clubs, yours):
  8. Been in continuous operation?:Yes or No
  9. With the same airplane: Yes or No
  10. If yes, make/model/year:
  11. Comments:  As you wish.

Flying Club Service Bulletin

Earlier in the year (actually, when recording a flying clubs radio edition) we had one of those lightning bolt “ah-ha” moments.  We hit on the idea of clubs doing “annual inspections” of their operations, processes and procedures at the end of every year, in order to review the past, to prepare for the following year, and to ensure that all financial and business filings/reports were appropriately scheduled.  Taking this a bit further, we were steaming down the path of creating a “Flying Clubs Annual Inspection Checklist”, when Drew had another brainwave…let’s make this look like a Service Bulletin…and that is what we did!  You can find it here…please put it to good use.

 

Check Out Flying Clubs Radio!

The latest edition of Flying Clubs Radio hit the airwaves last week.  In edition 49, Insurance Revisited, Steve and Drew explain some lessons learned and hard realities of the aviation insurance market.  We also provide very actionable ideas on how to help control insurance costs…the club treasurer and safety officer should work together on this.

Scholarship Applications Are Open!
Hey you…yeah you…want $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 the perfect 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.

 

This is repeat of last month’s mention, but IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT!!!

Treasurers—Please Read This:

Some of you may have heard about the new “FinCEN’s Beneficial Ownership Information Rule (BOI)”, that came into being in September 2022.  The rule essentially requires all corporations, LLCs and other legal entities to file a new report containing “Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI)” to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Agency, which is part of the department of the Treasury. 

So…all you club treasurers are now wondering…does this apply to my flying club?  Well, yes, it probably does.

I will provide a link to the Final Rule a bit later, but to save you the hassle of ploughing through 99-pages of shear reading pleasure, this is how we believe flying clubs may be impacted:

  1. Clubs formed as LLCs.  Reporting will be required.
  2. Clubs formed as corporations (non-profit or otherwise).  Reporting will be required.
  3. Clubs formed as non-profit corporations AND have received a letter of determination from the IRS granting tax exemption under 501(c)(7).  Reporting will not be required.

Given point number 3 above—that non-profit flying clubs holding formal 510(c)(7) exemption will not be required to provide the BOI report—then this is yet another reason why all flying clubs should form as non-profit entities and not as LLCs…and don’t let anyone try to tell you differently!

Note that we are talking about clubs that have filed IRS Form 1024 and have received a letter of determination approving the tax-exempt status.  We have heard that some clubs are filing tax Form 990 (rather than Form 1120) to “self-declare” that they are operating under the rules of 501(c)(7), rather than formally applying using Form 1024, so avoiding paying the $600 one time filing fee.  Not only is this risky practice (always get approval letters from the IRS), but this now will not relieve such clubs from the new filing requirements.

To date, there are not many details about the actual reporting methods or forms, but there is a new website, which treasurers should check every now and then, but especially at the end of the year.  We will let you know when we know more.  Please do not email the flying clubs team or AOPA legal about this.  We simply do not have any more details.

For more background, see Ian Arendt’s original article here, that contains a link to the actual ruling.

Hot off the press—Ian’s latest article “Unanswered Questions: Beneficial Ownership Information Rule update”, is here.

A Sweet Deal on Some New Tech!

Expiring soon!  Get a jump start on your holiday shopping this year with the new GDL 52 Portable SiriusXM/ADS-B Receiver. For a very limited time, you can get a $300 rebate when you order with an aviation weather subscription.

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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