The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) celebrated the creation of the 200th flying club that has been formed under its You Can Fly initiative. Members of the Lake Shelbyville Flying Club from Shelby County, Illinois, were honored for becoming the milestone program when they notched their first flight in a leased Cessna 172.
AOPA began the flying club initiative about a decade ago as part of an effort to encourage the recruitment and retention of pilots. The association since has provided numerous resources to assist in the creation and support of flying clubs, from an extensive guide to a Flying Club Finder.
The Shelbyville club, founded by airport manager Scott Jefson, is now at 10 members with the help of the AOPA initiative. "I realized all these people had one thing in common—me. So, I gave them all the names of people who were asking about a club, and they all reached out to one another," Jefson said. "I have helped them come together, but they run it on their own."
Jefson found the Cessna 172 at an estate sale, cleaned it up, and flew it back to the airport, AOPA reported.
The association advises clubs to work with their airport managers early in the formation process because such relationships can open doors to resources, it said.
Under the AOPA Foundation, the flying club initiative is part of a larger You Can Fly program, that provides multiple resources such as high school curriculums, to foster the general aviation community.