The US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has unveiled details of its long-term programme to facilitate the growth of flying clubs in the USA. The initiative is spearheaded by AOPA's Center to Advance the Pilot Community project, which is working to reverse the decline in the country's pilot population.
"According to research completed by AOPA this year, flying clubs play a significant role in the aviation community," says Adam Smith, senior vice president of the centre. "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. Flying clubs are an under-recognised part of aviation that deserve [our] support and encouragement."
As part of a long-term commitment, AOPA will offer marketing and promotion to existing flying clubs, help new clubs get going with starter kits that include examples of standard operating procedures and sample legal documents, and create a national network of flying clubs.
The centre is also launching a web-based flying club database finder to help people locate their nearest club and promote the site to new pilots. Additionally, a new Facebook group for flying club leaders has been launched that mirrors the successful and active flight schools group. In the months ahead, webinars and enewsletters will also be offered.
"More than 650 flying clubs in the US are doing good work in their local areas, but they are isolated from one another," continues Smith. "We want to connect flying clubs so they can share information, resources, best practices and work together on issues of mutual concern."
In July, AOPA announced it had created an advisory group of 11 flying clubs as part of its efforts to help pilots fly more frequently and affordably. The advisory group, which is operationally diverse and geographically balanced, will continue to focus on providing resources and tools to other flying clubs.
"We are committed to this initiative for the long term," said Smith. "This represents a big investment by AOPA 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."