Scott Spangler recently wrote an interesting post for Jetwhine about how flying clubs welcome or don’t always welcome new members. His observations (in part) were brought by Tim Lemke, the president of the Winnebago Flying Club, in a conversation the two had after the latter gave a presentation at a recent AM Oshkosh.
To begin with, Scott pointed out that flying clubs make aviation affordable by sharing the fixed costs of operating an aircraft among a number of people with active and lapsed pilots being the obvious benefactors. However, Scott then observed that:
In focusing on their immediate needs, members of many clubs have, without realizing it, created a closed society. Without new members to propagate the pilot species, their number will dwindle with time, adding to the survivor’s financial responsibilities
Scott added that in his experience with flying clubs, there does not tend to be much outreach or recruiting activities and that in many cases they are “old boys clubs whose members often share narrow views of what aviation should be.” He went on to describe how some flying clubs are dedicated to a specific make or model airplane, an aviation era, a specific activity or even a landing gear configuration and those not interested need not apply to be members. The problem of course with such “closed societies” is that the future of a flying club can be computed based upon the age of the youngest members. And if all of the members are older pilots, there won’t be much of a future for the long term.
If you do belong to a flying club whose future days may be numbered, its worth mentioning that General Aviation News has reported that various flying club experts will host a webinar on Wednesday, January 9 (8pm EST), to share tips and tactics for improving a flying club and no doubt the recruiting of new members will be discussed (To learn more or to register, you can click here).
With that said, we would like to ask you our readers, especially anyone in the UK where flying is ridiculously expensive, a simple question: Is your flying club an “old boys club?” If so, what are you doing (if anything) to change that to ensure that your flying club survives for the long term and for younger pilots?