San Carlos Flight Center (SCFC) opened in 2012 with one airplane and some experience at other flight schools and flying clubs. Six years later, membership is roughly 400 and they boast 26 aircraft in the fleet at San Carlos Airport (KSQL).
SCFC’s owner Dan Dyer readily admits their location near California’s Silicon Valley affords them benefits other schools and clubs don’t have.
“I doubt I could go anywhere else and enjoy the success we’ve had here in San Carlos,” said Dan.
Humble comment aside, SCFC didn’t grow by accident or luck alone. The SCFC team worked at it. Hard.
In the process, they’ve learned a lot. And now they want to both share what they’ve learned and learn what has been successful for others.
The conduit for such an information sharing will be the inaugural GA SPARK conference to be held Aug. 23-24, 2018, at the San Carlos Flight Center and the Hiller Aviation Museum at KSQL.
Honestly, the “spark” for GA SPARK was the demise of the half-day gathering of flight schools that preceded the opening of the annual AOPA Aviation Summit, according to Dyer.
Seminar topics for GA SPARK are many and varied. They include:
- Sowing the Seeds of Flight
- Differentiating Your School Through Safety Seminars
- Forming and Sustaining Pilot Groups Within Your Larger Organization
- Creating and Running an Adventure Flying Group
- Creating a Flight Scholarship
- Empowering Volunteers
- Building Your eCommunity
- Member Advocacy
- Using BBQ and Parties to Create a Sense of Community
- Feel Like A Club
- Training with Energy
Mostly, GA SPARK is a call to action for flight school owners and flying club managers to be innovative, bring energy into their programs, and understand the power that can come from trial and error and staying positive, he notes.
Even the website promoting GA SPARK is positive and light-hearted, using a collection of colorful cartoon super heroes called together to “save general aviation, one flight school, one flying club at a time.”
GA SPARK is a way to bring together industry leaders in an industry not known for sharing ideas.
The natural response of some aviation business owners is to see competition instead of cooperation.
“But our business has for a long time found value in making professional connections to flight schools all around the country,” said Dyer. “If you’re not at our airport, you’re not our competition.”
Registration is required and costs $210 per person.
“The registration fee goes entirely to cover costs of hosting the conference,” says Dyer. “We’ll likely lose money on the first conference, but we see it as a crucial investment in the community.”