What is a Flying Club?

A flying club is

. . . a group of people who want to own an aircraft come together to share access as well as the high costs associated with ownership.  Typically this group of people is made up of both student pilots learning to fly as well as seasoned pilots who have many hours in various aircraft.

A flying club can bring a group of pilots together around a single aircraft or multiple aircraft and the primary purpose of joining a club is to bring down the cost of flying.  For example,  in a non-club environment, you can rent an aircraft such as a Cessna 172 for between $140/hr to $180/hr.  If you are a student pilot or a private pilot advancing a rating then you need an instructor, who will charge $75/hr to $125/hr typically.  On top of all that you will need insurance and that’s $99/mo minimum.

So renting an airplane is good for pilots and students who only fly a handful of hours a year.  But most of us pilots want to fly more, WAY MORE!  So we look into buying an airplane for ourselves.  Owning your own airplane is ideal, the freedom, the access, and well… NOT sharing it!  Buuuuut with that ownership comes additional expenses that are often out of our financial ability or tolerance.  Some examples: a hangar for your airplane at $250 – $500/mo depending on the airport, oil changes every 50 hours,  and annual inspections every year (on the same Cessna 172 an annual would be in the ballpark of $2500).  Insurance on your airplane depends on its worth and the pilot’s experience level (hours flown in that type of aircraft and ratings).  My first airplane was a 1977 C172 and was about $1500 per year as a low time pilot, for example.

A flying club is not only a way to share these costs and thus reduce your portion of all these expenses but is also great a place to learn.  As a club member, you have access to club instructors at a reduced rate, insurance as a group rather than an individual (equalling lower cost), and the comradery of pilots both new and with vast experience to help each other become better.  After all, we share an airplane or two and the better each of us is as a pilot, the better our aircraft will be treated by the group.

The bonds and friendships you will gain as a member of a flying club are invaluable.  The various activities hosted by the club (such as fly-ins to really cool airports, guest speakers and more) keep club members and club instructors staying around for many years.  It’s not uncommon nor is it surprising that some pilots choose flying clubs as their lifelong way to access aircraft.

Because of the collective power of a group over the financial ability of an individual, each member of the club will have access to different aircraft models, types, and sometimes even categories of aircraft giving each of you a more varied and rich flying experience.  If you are a student pilot, graduation means more than getting that hard-earned and desirable certificate, once you finally achieve private pilot privileges you also have your own airplane to fly when you like for significantly less than the cost of renting, or single person ownership.