The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) released details at last week’s AOPA Aviation Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., on a long-term initiative to facilitate the growth of flying clubs. The initiative is one of the first projects of the new Center to Advance the Pilot Community, which is working to reverse the decline in the pilot population.
“According to research completed by AOPA this year, flying clubs play a significant role in the aviation community,” said Adam Smith, senior vice president of the center. “More than half of all active pilots are past or present members of a flying club and virtually all of them consider club membership as a positive experience. Flying clubs are an under-recognized part of aviation that deserves the Center’s support and encouragement.”
As part of a long-term commitment, AOPA will offer marketing and promotion to existing flying clubs, help new clubs get going with starter kits that include examples of standard operating procedures and sample legal documents, and create a national network of flying clubs.
The center is also launching a web-based flying club database finder to help people find their nearest club and promote the site to new pilots. Additionally, a new Facebook group for flying club leaders has been launched that mirrors the successful and active flight schools group. In the months ahead, webinars and eNewsletters will also be offered.
“More than 650 flying clubs in the U.S. are doing good work in their local areas, but they are isolated from one another,” said Smith. “We want to connect flying clubs so they can share information, resources, best practices and work together on issues of mutual concern.”
In July, AOPA announced it had created an advisory group of 11 flying clubs as part of its efforts to help pilots fly more frequently and affordably. The advisory group, which is operationally diverse and geographically balanced, will continue to focus on providing resources and tools to other flying clubs.
“We are committed to this initiative for the long term,” said Smith. “This represents a big investment by AOPA to help build a stronger community in which more people earn pilot certificates, pilots are more active, and the flying lifetime of pilots is extended.”
A link to data on flying clubs is here