# What makes for a good flying club?

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by Topaz, Oct 19, 2010.

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1. Oct 22, 2010

### Monty

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Next time I'm in the neighborhood.....

2. Oct 22, 2010

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Brilliant Island as well. Tasted it there for the first time and (if it's dry for a moment), it's about the closest one can get to paradise.
Dual XC is a great way to motivate your members and modern gliders, instead of 60 year old stuff attracts many members, because of perception performance and the much nicer flight characteristics.
Putting a just-solo pilot in the front seat of a Janus and making an XC with an instructor is a great way to get them to licensed level in only a couple of flights. You better spend the same amount of money on a decent 2-seater as on 2 mono-seaters. Even the certified pilots that just mush around the airport a bit are challenged and much more motivated.

I can talk a lot more about this (we did the same, like 5 years ago), but the hardest part is convince conservative instructors of how easy it is to learn people to fly glass.
Yes.
*Don't make it mandatory.
*Limit board membership to one term, excluding the president (2 terms, 5/6 years?)
*Limit the number of "officials" as much as possible. 3-4 is plenty. Each boardmember has it's own responsibility and tries to find a group of people that are interested and motivated to do that particular job. (Maintenance, IT, newsletters, instruction part)

It's extremely likely that in a small (below 200 members) club you'll have a gang of "important" people that stay there forever. The only way to avoid that is rigorously kick them out (of their function), and change positions regularly, maybe except the instructors. More than a couple of years on one position and you're sticking to your position to your position, losing motivation and so on. But you experienced that already.

Ow, and last advise. Do look at European clubs. Complete books, workshops and such how to run your club, how to get people active, how to make your instruction as interesting as possible.

It does work. In a small country as ours, we regularly have 300-600 gliders in the air in a good weekend.

3. Oct 22, 2010

### Yogi

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I like Auto's idea about Dual XC. I'm currently a pre solo student getting my glider add-on. I'm sure solo will be a blast but I don't think I would learn much flying by myself, except get real good at practicing my mistakes.

4. Oct 22, 2010

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After a couple of years of dual XC, the number of soloed people that still flew gliders 3 years later was about twice as high as it was before (on several clubs). On the long term, you can thus double or triple the amount of members.

5. Oct 22, 2010

### Topaz

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I absolutely agree with you. Completely. However...

Our issue with those particular aircraft is cost, pure and simple. We're still working on our budget, but I already know it won't support something that high-end. We're currently talking Grob 103 or L-23 SuperBlanik. Still, we need something with some looks and with some XC legs. A few members have asked, "Can we afford to do it?" My point is, "Can we afford not to do it?" With the loss of our 1-34, I feel that our fleet is getting thin. 2-33's are great for dual basic instruction, but entirely uninspiring for continued flying. We have one 1-26 (a blast to fly, regardless of age) and one B-4. That's pretty thin.

The second issue is our dirt runway. Let me just say from the get-go that paving or planting turf is completely out of the question for a variety of rational and non-rational reasons. A winch is similarly not an option. Aero tow is it. The dirt and dust in the propwash from the towplane plays merry hob with the surface finish on glass ships in regular service at our airport. The only (partial) solution is a longer tow-rope, adding in a 100' extension to make it a 300' rope. That's workable, but we'd see a lot of surface-finish maintenance on a glass ship at our airport. I personally think it'd still be worth it, from a marketing and membership standpoint, but it's not just my vote.

I agree completely. I've pushed for a real XC training program at our club, but it's not developing yet. We're exceptionally good at basic training - ab initio and adding ratings, but our XC instruction seems limited in the real world to classroom work. We don't yet do it regularly as dual flight instruction. We do have a triangular Silver distance course laid out that keeps the student within a 2-33's glide range of the airport, but I don't see a lot of emphasis upon using it. More that it's "available". I agree completely that XC planning and training is more motivating to the advanced student, who already fundamentally knows how to fly the aircraft. I'll push a little harder.

True and true. We've got 108 members, and as is usual in a club that size, there are about ten people who really do things for the club on a regular basis. Our current Board of Directors (six members) is about to enter their fourth year of service, and I see less "let's develop something new/make things better" and more emphasis upon just keeping things going and "putting out fires". That's a sign of burnout.

If you have any links, I'd appreciate it. I'm starting to review the SSA's similar materials, but unfortunately they're extremely limited and general. Any new information is welcome.

I'd guess we have about 100-200 airborne on a given weekend in southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Riverside counties), which is about the same population as your country. So you folks are definitely doing better at promoting soaring than we are.

Last edited: Oct 22, 2010
6. Oct 22, 2010

### Topaz

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That parallels my own thinking. We tend to have members drift away after getting their PPL-G. Most go elsewhere for "real" dual XC. I'd like to fix that. We certainly have enough qualified CFI-Gs now to make it work.

Strictly looking at it from a membership standpoing, I think we could retain a lot more people, for longer, if we "pushed" dual XC training, above and beyond our current emphasis on "get your PPL or add-on."

Last edited: Oct 22, 2010
7. Oct 23, 2010

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Nonsense. We faced the same discussion. DG-500/505 is heavy, many different versions and putting it together is a nightmare. If you can have it assembled, it's comparable to a Janus. The Janus-A is a bit nervous (all-flying tail), the B is fine and the C is superior to a duo in every aspect:

On the above glider I've actually put a number of flights

If somebody tells you "it's too expensive", they just lost all their arguments against what you were proposing. Having extensively flown the Janus A, B and C, as I flew the Grob I, II and III (SL and acro) and also did their maintenance, I can tell you for sure that the Janus is a far superior ship in performance, maintenance is comparable and flying is much more fun in the Janus. Janii are cheaper as other twins because the people who're interested in them want a turbo and can afford a DuoT.
Are you allowed to fly with one (non-paying) passenger/student and a certified pilot who share the cost of the airplane? Having the "private owners" fly an occasional XC with a student motivates both, the first one might become an instructor, the 2nd one an XC-pilotl.

Tomorrow more, if I'm sober. Yep, couldn't stay away from the Scottish heaven :speechles

8. Oct 23, 2010

### Topaz

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Thanks for the input; I'll pass it along. From here, I think I'd like to drag the thread back on-topic as a general "flying club best practices" discussion. I've helped make it about my club, and I think it's better here if we speak more generally.

Jarno, I may PM you about the price subject. Thanks.

9. Oct 23, 2010

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Ok, will do, though some comments will apply more to gliders as to powered aircraft.

Get the wife involved.

Most of them aren't that fond of flying, so try to get them involved in something they like. Ask them to organize a party for members+partners, a bridge-evening with partners, maybe a flying trip to something cultural?

Get the public involved.

We regularly dropped a glider on local "happenings", like on the big square when there was a national celebration day. You're talking to hundreds of people, creating awareness if how cool gliding is (handy when the airport is threatened) and that awareness leads to people talking about your club and maybe a few new members. An actual airplane, how ugly or old it is attracts impressive crowds everywhere! (And for powered clubs, try find an aircraft that can be disassembled. Leave the wings (and tail) of, people don't care about wings, but they do love to sit in that cockpit and talk about flying.

Aim for youngsters and "cool" happenings like car races, school events etc, and skip the knitting events. Keep it simple and honest "It costs about a 75 US$/month to fly gliders". "To get your PPL-SEP, you spend about 10K US$". No complicated cost structures in your marketing.

Stipulate that flying isn't limited to those "top guns" without any medical issues (glasses!!!), because that's the perception at the general audience.

Well, you're the marketing guy, so you're probably better than me at this, but that's what we did, quite successful too.
You're welcome and I'd be delighted if I could be of any help.

10. Oct 26, 2010

### Alan Waters

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Figure out how to avoid 5 percent of the club members doing 99 percent of the work.

11. Oct 26, 2010

### Topaz

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Might as well try and find the secret to the philosopher's stone.

I've seen various methods to try and achieve this. Some worked better than others. None worked well. VERY open to suggestions on this one.

My own inclination is to do my best to make the club as tight-knit, fun-loving, and active as possible. People enjoying themselves are more likely to help out. But that's a challenge sometimes, too. You post fun events, and a quarter of the club shows up. To do fun things.

12. Oct 26, 2010

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Well, it's a combination of measures, most of which I described.
People don't stay/get involved because:
*Loose attention to the club after a while
*Old farts, still hanging around
*No fresh blood

A combination of getting people socially at the club (ie, drink beer/bbq), forcing officials to regularly be replaced and keep coming new members is the only way to get more people involved.

For young people (specifically gliding) a discount on the fee, in exchange for a significant part in the maintenance can keep it more attractive/affordable to them.

13. Oct 27, 2010

### macdonca

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As with any club, group, association, etc. etc., problems arise when the groups become too large. With flying clubs, everyone wants to use the airgraft on weekends. A lot of clubs envoke the "seniority rule" where senior most members get first access to the planes. Some clubs have 40+ members with 4 planes and the top 10 guys will glom up the premium weekend and holiday block times. Why would a new member want to pay fees without being able to use the benifits.

14. Oct 27, 2010

### Topaz

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So what would be a good solution for that? At my club, it's first-come, first-served, but you can only schedule a single 1.5h block more than 24h in advance. Once it's less than 24h, you can schedule as much time in the aircraft as you want. We rarely have any problems with unavailable aircraft.

That works well for soaring. What would be a good solution for powered aircraft?

15. Oct 27, 2010

### Hot Wings

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Powered clubs have a whole 'nother set of problems if they are small with only a couple of planes. What to do about overnight cross countries or week long trips like for a business convention?

Most of the small clubs I've seen just said nothing more than one night away, and that couldn't be on a weekend. But one of the attractions of a flying club is having access to a fast cross country plane that most individuals can't justify on a working man's pay, to use only a few times a year.

Getting over the "hump" to the point the club has enough members and planes that having one or 2 away for a week at a time is pretty hard.

This is where a lease back to the local FBO for advanced/high performance training becomes an attractive option. One problem is that on some fields the local FBO sees the flying club as his primary competition and some relationships aren't all that friendly.

16. Oct 28, 2010

### Monty

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Nothing like shagging ropes all day for a bunch of old farts who act like they are doing you a favor by blessing you with their presence.....

There are some clubs like that. But they aren't any fun anyway, and I've found that the people with that kind of attitude usually aren't very good pilots. They are after the image, not the substance. They have no desire to mentor or bring in new blood...which is probably just as well.

17. Oct 29, 2010

### Nickathome

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Taking the plane for a weekend trip is another reason I'm buying my own plane. Our club does allow weekend trips and one of the members takes the good plane on weekenders every so often. He doesn't do it enough to be a problem, but regardless, for the weekend he has the plane, he's the only one having any fun and the rest of us still have to pay the same amount on dues.

18. Oct 29, 2010

### macdonca

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The daily minimums some clubs charge can be atrocious. 4hr min per day for overnight trips. Your weekend trip can cost over 1000 bucks. Understandable though, as the club wouldnt want an aircraft tied up all weekend for only an hour of flight time.

19. Feb 9, 2011

### billyvray

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I'm thinking of a slightly different type of club. Primarily it would be for ultralights. I wonder if the club entity could own a two-place ultralight-type aircraft and provide instruction in it. Essentially, the person receiving training would enroll in the club as a member and part-owner of the aircraft, thereby paying for instruction in "his own" aircraft. Assuming that there was an LSA rated instructor, would this be legal?

Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
20. Feb 9, 2011

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