by Mark R. Baker
President & CEO Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association
Published in Midwest Flyer – February/March 2017
I hope you’re already an AOPA member. I believe AOPA is a critical partner for any pilot no matter what or why you fly. With safety programs, advocacy, news, flight planning, insurance, financing, and so much more, there’s no place you’ll find more tools to help you manage and enjoy your flying. But for me, there’s one more group that should be part of any aircraft owner’s commitment to flying wisely and well, and that’s the type club.
Type clubs have in-depth knowledge about the aircraft they represent, and through the years I’ve belonged to many such clubs and visited even more. In just the past couple of years I’ve spent time with The International 180/185 Club, The Lake Amphibian Club, American Bonanza Society, Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association, Cessna 150-152 Club, North American Trainer Association, Citation Jet Pilots, TBM Owners and Pilots Association, and Pilatus Owners and Pilots Association, among others.
You don’t necessarily have to own an airplane to be part of a type club. In fact, I recommend connecting with the type club for any aircraft you fly regularly. Type clubs know and understand their airplanes like no one else, and they’re more than willing to share that knowledge with the rest of us.
And when it comes to the quirks, challenges, or design oddities of a specific airplane, type clubs know the challenges and often have the solutions. They even work closely with the FAA to ensure the continuing safety of the fleet and often play a big part in the development of airworthiness directives for their aircraft. Many type clubs also have newsletters, magazines, or other publications where they provide safety information and updates. And some, like the American Bonanza Society and the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association, offer type-specific proficiency programs.
They’re also great places to meet like-minded pilots and build your own aviation community. Many type clubs hold social and educational gatherings, whether that’s a monthly seminar, quarterly barbecue, or annual convention. And lots of them join in other community-building events, like the AOPA Fly-Ins.
I’ve made great friends and obtained potentially life-saving information through every type club I’ve ever been part of. Often, those ties are so strong that I stay involved with a type club even after I’m no longer flying that particular airplane. If you own an airplane, are thinking about buying one, or just fly a given make and model regularly, check out the type club. It’s one more way to get the most out of your flying.