At AOPA Summit last week, AOPA announced a plan to help grow the national network of flying clubs, an initiative that is one of the first launched by the newly formed Center to Advance the Pilot Community. (See our story on the reach that flying clubs can have.) The goal is not only to create new clubs but to foster the growth and interoperability of existing clubs as well.
Head of the center, Adam Smith, says that the research shows an overwhelmingly positive impact clubs have on the GA community. “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,” he said. “Flying clubs are an under-recognized part of aviation that deserves the Center’s support and encouragement.”
For the past several months AOPA has worked closely with successful clubs to create the plan. It established an advisory committee with 11 clubs from around the country and will work closely with the committee going forward. With 650 clubs operating currently, there seems to be a good foundation for their growth, but Smith says he hopes that the tools his organization can provide existing and newly created clubs will help them interact and share the secrets of what works and what doesn’t.
The goal, however, is easy to articulate, said Smith: “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.”