The Winnebago Flying Club has been around since 1978, after the merger of two other clubs. It currently has 28 active members and flies a 1972 Cessna 172L that’s been upgraded with GPS, said Wiltzius. “We keep our aircraft up to date. We believe in having a quality aircraft and keeping things simple,” he said. “Our membership ranges from people in college up right up to our president, who is retired. We have three CFIs and one designated examiner.”
The club wanted to do something in the area of new member recruitment and show people what they can do with a pilot certificate, said Wiltzius. “My friend Tom and his wife wanted to do a fun flight somewhere. His wife has early onset dementia, so we wanted to do something where she’d enjoy it and get something out of it,” he recalled.
They had many memories in Door County, Wis., which has beautiful foliage, said Wiltzius. “So I came up with the idea to fly over the foliage and do a video for Tom and our club,” he said.
The results were amazing, both for the passenger and the club. “Tom’s wife was nearly in tears being able to see her old stomping grounds by air. She was thrilled and excited to see the area from a different angle,” said Wiltzius. “It brought back so many good memories for her and the colors were amazing. It was a magical time.”
Once the video was ready, Wiltzius used social media to get the word out. “Twitter and Facebook are our primary means, but we did do an email blast to our members as well,” he said. “I’m a big fan of social networking. Our membership is aging and social media is a great way to attract new and younger members and get them excited about GA.”
The club wants to show the beauty and magic of aviation in a social and non-negative way, said Wiltzius, and that’s not limited to Winnebago County. “If I can get someone in Chicago to get excited about flying, that’s great. They don’t have to join our club,” he stated. “We just want them to become advocates for GA or even become a pilot. It’s all about joining the family that is aviation.”
You can view the Winnebago Flying Club’s video below.