By ANN Reader Dirk Powell, Metropolitan Flying Club, Lansing
I am current president of a small (10 member) flying club, based
at KLAN (Lansing, MI). We own and fly (1) aircraft, a Cessna
Whenever I get the chance, I will pick out a destination that is
new to me, and drop in for a visit (soda, potty, fuel - you know
the routine). In the lounge of the typical small FBO/county airport
building, you can almost always find a young, friendly attendant to
strike up a conversation with. More often than not, this "aviation
nut" is a CFI (which seems to stand for Challenged
The conversation often gets around to discussing N6726E, and our
club. As everyone who flies already knows, rental aircraft have
become scarce or non-existent at the smaller, non-metropolitan
fields. However, I was somewhat surprised to learn that flying
clubs at these locations are just as elusive.
Now to the point:
Time and time again I hear the CFI say, "I want to start a
flying club, but I have no money for my share of the purchase down
payment." As a member of a fiscally conservative, established club,
I share with them the details of how many options there are to fund
the club, and the average cost of entry and ongoing operations. As
they begin to see the real potential for getting started, they
can't help but get back to their "cash on hand" dilemma.
Here's an idea for everyone to consider:
[Your] recent article on the Be A Pilot organization got me
wondering. Why not offer a "qualified" CFI an opportunity to pledge
flight training hours to primary students, in exchange for the down
payment on a pre-qualified trainer aircraft, financed through AOPA?
With the help of AOPA, the CFI can set up the club structure, and
then secure commitments from potential founding members. You might
even stipulate that the founding members need to be a certain
percentage of primary students.
The CFI would account for his "grant" on a quarterly basis, with
certificates signed by his/her students, and credited accordingly.
(A system of accountability needs to be in place, obviously.)
So -- we end up with a CFI with access to a trainer; we have new
student pilots, with access to a trainer and some free instruction;
we have existing pilots with access to a basic, solid aircraft
design; we have increased flight hours (fuel, oil, maintenance;
annuals…); AOPA makes a loan sale (and there's an
opportunity for an insurance company, too); and a good ol' aircraft
probably just sitting someplace gets to fly again.
So, if a program like this were available, and somebody were up
to kicking in for the down payment funding, how many CFIs would
take up the challenge of starting a club?
[Dirk asks a lot of questions, and obviously his suggestion
would take cooperation among a number of businesses and
organizations -- but if it happened... hey, why not? Are
you willing to work on this? --ed.]