by Mark R. Baker
President & CEO Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association
At the risk of repeating myself, let me say I’m a big fan of flying clubs. In my mind there’s just no better way to fly affordably and enjoy a community of like-minded aviators.
At AOPA we want to help new clubs get on their feet. That’s why this year we’ll be giving away a Reimagined C150 to one lucky startup club.
If you’ve been to an AOPA Fly-In or visited with us at an airshow recently, you’ve probably seen the bright yellow C150s and C152s flown by AOPA Ambassadors. These Reimagined Aircraft are older airplanes that have been updated from tip to tail. They’re fun to fly, easy to own, and affordable to operate—a perfect starter airplane for a new club.
Entering the giveaway is easy. Your club must meet some eligibility requirements and then fill out the online application. To be eligible your club must have at least four members, a named set of club officers, a set of bylaws, and be listed as a “club in formation” on AOPA’s Flying Club Finder, along with a couple of other requirements. All the details and the application form are available at www.aopa.org/flyingclubgiveaway.
If you’re ready to start a club, or join one, AOPA is ready to help—in fact our AOPA Ambassadors helped launch 10 new clubs in 2015 and connected nearly 700 clubs through the AOPA Flying Club Network. The network is free to join and it comes with great benefits, whether you’re just getting started or your club is a going concern.
For startup clubs, joining the network gives you access to a resource library that will take you through the steps and decisions you’ll need to make to get your club off the ground, along with all the other benefits of network membership like free scheduling and invoicing software, the help and support of AOPA’s flying club experts, and a premium entry in AOPA’s Flying Club Finder. AOPA’s Ambassadors are also available to offer direct, in-person support to clubs at all stages of development.
For pilots, club membership offers the very best elements of aircraft ownership at a much lower cost. As part of a club, you’ll have access to airplanes in a way that renters don’t. At many clubs scheduling an airplane for a weekend trip is no problem. And as a club member you’ll become familiar with the airplanes and comfortable with the way they’re maintained and used.
Many clubs also offer the kind of social experiences that get the whole family involved, whether or not they’re pilots. Fly-outs, hangar parties, and more can be part of the experience for socially-minded clubs, giving members reasons to come out to the airport and go for a flight.
Some of my very best aviation experiences have been with flying clubs, and I’d like you to have the same opportunity. Give a club a try or start your own—and who knows, you might win an airplane to get your club off to a great start.