A new flying club is being formed at Leesburg International Airport (KLEE) in Florida.
Membership in the club, called Squadron Aeronautics, is open to the general public.
Part of the mission of the club will be to help young people in the area learn about the various aspects of operating and maintaining an aircraft. It will also provide an opportunity for certificated pilots to fly the club aircraft at nominal rates as members.
The club is a spin-off from Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534, which is also based at KLEE.
Chapter officials report that two aircraft were recently donated to the chapter with the understanding that they would be used for a flying club as well as to benefit the chapter’s aviation youth program.
One of the planes is a light-sport Zenith CH 701 STOL, a homebuilt kit completed around 17 years ago. It was flown into Leesburg but was in need of a number of repairs. The chapter’s certified A&P aircraft mechanics went over the plane with a fine-tooth comb, and with the help of the aviation youth members and their adult mentors, brought the plane back to flying condition, chapter officials report.
Knowing that EAA’s rules do not allow a chapter to operate an aircraft, the next step was to transfer the Zenith to the flying club. Unfortunately, affordable insurance could not be obtained for an experimental aircraft in a flying club.
Aviation insurance companies would, however, write a policy for a manufactured and FAA certified aircraft, for example a Cessna 150. This is a well-known airplane used by many flying schools, and insurance companies seem to have a lot of confidence in them.
Luckily, the second aircraft that was donated to EAA Chapter 534 is a Cessna 150D. While it is registered, it is not currently airworthy.
Chapter members have already overhauled the engine. Now they are turning their attention to other items that must be completed to get the plane airworthy, officials report. They estimate it will take about six months to a year before they can turn the plane over to the new flying club, which will then be able to get insurance.
Since the Zenith cannot be used by the club, chapter officials have decided to sell it and use the proceeds from the sale to purchase equipment needed to finish the Cessna 150D.
Despite the setback, Squadron Aeronautics will continue to work toward becoming an operational flying club. It will continue to recruit new members and will invite other tax-deductible financial donations. It will also be ready to accept the donation of any flyable certified aircraft. As a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, all donations to the flying club are tax deductible.
Since the club will be starting out with one aircraft, membership will initially be limited to 15 pilots. As other planes are added to the club’s inventory, membership will again be opened up, club officials said.
Aviation enthusiasts who want to help support this new organization will also be welcomed at a reduced rate.
If you wish to join Squadron Aeronautics, you can secure your membership by sending a check for $100 to the club’s treasurer, Gretchen Crecelius. This amount is reimbursable if you change your mind or it will be applied to your entrance fee when the flying club becomes operational. Checks should be made out to Squadron Aeronautics and sent to Gretchen at 8701 Airport Blvd, Suite 103, Leesburg, Florida, 34788.