First scholarship to start a flying club launched

Ground Effect Advisors (GEA) has created a scholarship focused exclusively on flying clubs. The winning applicant will receive more than $3,500 worth of products, services, and support towards getting a flying club off the ground.

Associated with the scholarship, GEA has launched, a website dedicated to supporting the startup and evolution of flying clubs.

“General aviation continues to face a challenging set of issues resulting in a decreasing pilot community, and economic struggles throughout the industry,” said Al Waterloo, a GEA executive. “Historically, the response has been to focus on building the community one pilot at a time, via individual scholarships, targeted marketing, and flight school effectiveness.”

The Flying Club Scholarship, the first of its kind, is meant to assist in starting America’s next great flying club and benefit a community of pilots in the process, he noted. Because flying clubs have proven to be an effective method to foster general aviation growth, several aviation organizations, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) have thrown their support behind the effort to leverage the Flying Club community. AOPA has donated $1,000 in seed funding for the scholarship winner.

Adam Smith, Senior Vice President of AOPA’s Center to Advance the Pilot Community stated, “the stakeholders of general aviation are finally beginning to realize the vast potential offered by flying clubs. The opportunity offered by GEA is very promising and certainly will garner the industry’s attention and enhance momentum. I love the idea of scholarships to help start flying clubs. Like a scholarship to help someone learn to fly, but a gift that keeps on giving back to aviation.”

GEA’s scholarship is seen as a step towards building a foundation for accelerated growth. Marc Epner, an executive at GEA, noted, “the enthusiastic participation of recognizable partners, including AOPA, David Clark, Sporty’s Pilot Shop, Signature Flight Support, Cirrus Aircraft, Schedule Master, PilotEdge and tells us that we have hit on something special here. Our goal is to provide consulting, products, and services to ensure a successful launch of a club and position it for long term success.”

The application process has commenced and will run through May 1, 2013. The winner will be announced on June 1. The launch of the newly formed flying club is targeted for September 1, 2013.

Ground Effect Advisors is a newly established organization focused on making an impact in the growth of General Aviation by exploiting the potential of flying clubs. The executive team at GEA consists of pilots with diverse backgrounds in aviation, including a corporate pilot and CFI, a flying club founder and president, and general aviation bloggers.

For more information: 773.414.5000 or

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