Posts Tagged ‘flying clubs’

The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Sarah Wilson, a former employee of AOPA and a modern-day barnstormer, has resurrected a kids flying club tied to a radio adventure show called “The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen.” The sponsor was the Richfield Oil Company, sponsor of air races and a beacon airway from California to Canada. The oil company used a now-rare 1929 Model 4E Stearman for publicity tours connected to the radio show. Actors Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple were members. Wilson’s dream is to use the successful 1930s flying club, and that same Model 4E , also known as the Richfield Junior Speedmail (restored at Jim Kimball Enterprises) to attract kids and build support for general aviation. Jimmie was generally in trouble worldwide, with bad guys trying to sabotage his airplane and worse (gasp!). There’s a link to a sample of the old radio show at the top of this link. By 1937 the show was in decline and fewer kids were heading to Skelly gas stations to request their Jimmie Allen wings, so the actors involved moved to another boy hero, Captain Midnight. By the time the show reached television in 1954, Captain Midnight was an adult chugging his sponsor’s Ovaltine chocolate drink inside his Secret Club headquarters.

Wisconsin’s Winnebago Flying Club Uses Fall Foliage Footage to Tout GA

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

The first two general aviation flights I ever took were both trips to view fall foliage, one in Burlington, Vt., and one in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  AOPA recently created the AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook group, and one of the members – Sam Wiltzius (@wiredforflight) – sent in a comment that turned into this post.

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. 

AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook Group Takes Off

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Last week at the AOPA Aviation Summit, our new Center to Advance the Pilot Community announced it was creating a network of flying clubs as part of a long-term initiative to facilitate flying club growth, which, in turn, will help grow the pilot population.  Center Senior Vice President Adam Smith did a PowerPoint presentation, “Special Interest Education: AOPA Flying Club Network,” to show benefits including the ability to share information and resources.

A mere week after starting the AOPA Flying Club Network Facebook group, we’re already at 639 (sorry, make that 644) members and growing.  The group was created to start a conversation among flying clubs and those who want to start or join a flying club, and what a conversation it’s been so far.  Topics already covered include:

  • Templates/models to create a club;
  • Aircraft used by flying clubs
  • Financing and insurance;
  • Setting club dues;
  • Attracting new members;
  • What members expect from clubs; and
  • Finding the time to fly.

So join the Facebook group, pass along your Twitter handle for our flying clubs list, and go here to join our email list to be updated on the latest news and events within AOPA’s Flying Club initiative.