Starting a club

There's hundreds of flying clubs around the country that own and manage aircraft for their members. Aside from the camaraderie, clubs make flying more affordable.

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Starting a club

Postby cornfieldflyer » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:01 am

Let me try and keep this short.

I know a man who owns a 172. He no longer flies but keeps this plane in flying condition. He was letting a friend fly her but the friend moved.

So now there is a 172 no one flies. I do not fly this big of plane myself so I approached the owner about offering this up to a club, have the club keep the bird in annual and everything and have the club pay dues to use the field and plane.

His concerns was insurance. I would think every member would cover cost of this insurance.

Am I way off here? All I want to do is help those trying to fly who may not have a bird. I was thinking a membership of 5, maybe have a buy in of 1000 then so much a month dues. Or is there even a buy in to a club like this? I have no idea and need all the help I could get if I was to do this.

Thoughts from everyone, should I try this for the good of flying or should I just let it be, so to speak.


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Re: Starting a club

Postby drseti » Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:45 pm

Your concept is sound, Tony. Having half a dozen folks buy into somebody's under-utilized aircraft is an excellent way to start a club. The club pays the insurance, hangar, and annual. Every club member pays monthly dues to cover his or her share of those fixed costs, and then an hourly fee to cover direct operating costs. See the AOPA initiative for ways to make this happen.
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Re: Starting a club

Postby Jack Tyler » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:30 am

Alternatively, consider forming a partnership (preferably, a 'co-ownership'). I think what you'll find is that a Club, while one viable approach, involves more administrative workload, both in its formation and ongoing operation. (Visit a few Clubs on-line and read how they outline club members' responsibilities, the operation of the Club day-to-day, etc. All of this must be coordinated by someone). Another reason I think a Club is a more challenging arrangement to sustain is that the commitment is less absolute and so some of the initially interested parties simply bow out because they can. A sample co-ownership agreement - and much else about this kind of arrangement - is available on-line at AOPA ( And keep in mind that a co-ownership arrangement can include some individuals who have an equity interest in the aircraft, such as you describe, while others have non-equity partnership rights (use of the a/c for the cost of covering its operating expenses). In this case, the equity partners (the 'owners') might have broader responsibilities (assist with the annual, manage the scheduling of the a/c, handle the money, keep any pubs or data bases updated) in exchange for a lower per-hour operating cost than non-equity partners.

IMO the most workable sequence is to start without a specific formula in mind but approaching all the interested parties in the area with the stated goal of taking advantage - in some fashion - of this 172's availability. Involve those interested parties in exploring the options and what makes most sense to them, and then proceeding from there. The 'interested parties' can be found by exploring who currently rents at the airport where the 172 is based (and any others, if nearby), by visiting the local EAA chapter meetings, by announcements at the FBO's, by using the Partnership service that AOPA operates and posting for interested parties in your area, and so forth. As Paul mentioned a few posts back, what's required most is for someone to demonstrate some initiative.
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Re: Starting a club

Postby Torque » Sat Oct 27, 2012 5:51 am

Three years ago I needed a hangar. I came to 3IS5 and spoke with the owner. He said sure he would rent me hangar space. So off to the hangar we go. He opens one of the hangar doors.
As he opens this door I see this building is packed full of everything from planes to boats to cars, trucks, lawn mowers and everything in between. But setting there is a 172. The front wheel is off and she looks to be in need of help. I inquire about this bird and Dave the owner of the airpark says, oh thats my 172 and it has not moved in over 19 years.
Then behind the 172 is a low wing something, it looks to be a Cherokee or something. I ask how long has it been their. Dave says about the same amount of time.
The owners says the mini-max is going and so are about 5 of the boats. I said great I will take it and put my cash on the hangar. For a few bucks a month I am getting a nice hangar once its cleaned.
So I bring my bird in and start working on it and the next thing I know the A&P is out at the hangar working on the 172. I come back out a few weeks later and there is the 172 looking better then ever and running. Man I was happy to see this.
Today the owner of this bird has been letting a friend fly her, The friend keeps up insurance and puts fuel in her the owner takes care of the rest, he does not charge one penny to fly this bird. Well this friend because of work is moving out of state. I approached the owner of the airpark and asked what was to be of the 172. He said it will not sit another 20 years he will sell it first. This is how I came up with the idea of a club, I think the club should buy it from him if I do the club thing.
Aviation in this area is just like that 172, its just setting. I had a friend fly me to another airpark about 30 miles from here. We walked around all the hangars peaking in the little cracks we could find to look at all the birds, they even had a arobat quicksilver in there. My friend said not one of these birds had moved in years. This was multi hangars, we walked from one building to the next, I said not one of these birds move anymore? He looked at me and said yes they all just set. There must have been 20 planes just waiting for someone to fly them again, they looked so lonely and to me it was a sad sight.
Before I came to this airpark they where lucky to see a plane land once every 5 years. The RC club guys told me no one used this field. They say its busy today. I smiled and said good, I hope it stays that way.
I do not want that 172 to leave, I do not want this airpark to just set again, lets use it and enjoy it for what it is. I would like to see annual fly-ins and have a breakfest once or twice a year. But that takes a club or group of people, right now its me and one other person whom today is my friend and of course we have the owner of the airpark.


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A 'How To' story...

Postby Jack Tyler » Fri Feb 15, 2013 8:52 am

Perhaps this description of the work involved in starting a Flying Club will prove helpful to someone with similar hopes. It comes from the Training section of the AOPA website:

David Miller, a retired Air Force officer and Iraq war veteran had a dream—he not only wanted to get back into flying, he wanted to get back into the social swing of general aviation with like-minded people, and give back to the next generation. To that end, he is in the process of creating the Flying Club at Lakeland, based at Florida’s Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, home of Sun ’n Fun.

He is working with partner David Harbaugh and airport director Gene Conrad to make his dream a reality by May. “Harbaugh came to me from the Austin Flying Club in Colo., and we discussed how we could have that atmosphere here in Florida,” Miller said. “Then the AOPA Flying Clubs initiative came up, and it all made sense.”

Miller and Harbaugh looked at different airports in the region to base their club. “We needed a facility with ramp space and a flight school, since we don’t want to do training,” he said. “Lakeland Linder was the perfect location. They were actually getting ready to start their own flying club when we walked through the door.” ... c_sect=gan

Conrad agreed. “Actually, I wanted a flying club for selfish reasons. We’re trying to drive as much activity here as possible,” he said. “We have one million square feet of space, a new flight school and we sit in the heart of central Florida, so we were a great fit for this club.”

In starting the club’s recruitment efforts, Miller put informational flyers in every airport within 50 miles of Lakeland. “Gene was kind enough to send out an email to all of his airport tenants, which brought in quite a few potential members,” he said. “We also went into the FAA database and looked up by zip code, found 250 pilots, and sent out letters to them. We also got a lot of interest after the local Osprey Observer newspaper did an article on us.”

Miller created a list of milestones from January through May that serves as a guide for creating the club. Those milestones include creating an interim board; sending out flyers to generate interest; determining membership costs; draft and approve bylaws; file articles of incorporation; execute aircraft agreements with owners; contract with Lakeland Linder for office space and hangars; start collecting club dues; and hold first membership meeting. The club will be a nonprofit, and “we hope to achieve tax-exempt status as an educational social organization,” he added.

The club is looking at aircraft including different light sport aircraft, the Cessna 152 and 172, along with the Piper Archer and Warrior, said Miller. “I’d like to have one aircraft for every 12 members, and we’d share those fixed costs,” he said. “We’re looking at an initiation fee of $100, monthly dues of between $50 and $60, and aircraft user fees of between $40 and $80 an hour.”

Miller has only spent $500 to get the club started. “Once the membership agreements come in, they will include the initiation fee, and we’ll use that money to incorporate the club,” he said. We’ll also start receiving monthly dues, which will cover our fixed costs. The Tach costs will go directly to aircraft owners or toward 100-hour maintenance inspections.”

In five years, Miller hopes that the Flying Club at Lakeland will “have somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30 aircraft and 350 members.” They are out there, he said, noting there are more than 1,600 aircraft based in the two counties near the airport.

“And if you look at the number of pilots we have, many of them are not flying because of the cost,” said Miller. “Our club wants to get them flying again.”
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Re: Starting a club

Postby jnmeade » Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:51 am

AOPA has extensive information on flying clubs and many other aspects of plane ownership. It's worth a membership for a year if you're researching the topic.

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