Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

There's hundreds of flying clubs around the country that own and manage aircraft for their members. Aside from the camaraderie, clubs make flying more affordable.

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cimmaronjim
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Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby cimmaronjim » Mon Mar 07, 2016 3:28 pm

In my area there is a lack of rental LSA's and no clubs that I know of, so I am trying to see if there is any interest.

http://desertsportflyers.webs.com

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drseti
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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby drseti » Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:40 pm

AOPA has lots of resources on starting flying clubs, and there are a few previous threads on this forum about the same subject. Use the site's search function and see what you find.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
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Jack Tyler
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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby Jack Tyler » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:36 am

Re: Paul's suggestion, AOPA has done a number of articles that focus on flying clubs which have thrived for decades with the goal of the articles being to distill out the main contributors to their success. Now that AOPA has placed a new emphasis on club flying, I'd suggest you call and ask for their club specialist; I'll bet they have one among their tech specialist group.
Jack
Flying in/out KBZN, Bozeman MT in a Grumman Tiger
Do you fly for recreational purposes? Please visit http://www.theraf.org

SportPilot
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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby SportPilot » Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:07 pm

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Cluemeister
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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby Cluemeister » Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:11 pm

SportPilot wrote: I would make it so that the initial 5 or 10 investors decide everything such as what airplane, how to finance, how to handle finances, club rules, etc.


I think it would be hard to start a flying club for this reason. One guy wants a seaplane. One guy wants a plane to land on grass with tundra wheels. One guy wants a four seater to haul the family.

I noticed that the Chesapeake Sport Flying Club bought a plane, and then built the club around it. It's a Tecnam Eaglet, an all purpose light sport.

I think you start with something like a Skycatcher. Not everyone's first choice perhaps, but certainly would be in the top 3. The more specialized, the harder it will be to get members to join.

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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby SportPilot » Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:11 pm

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cimmaronjim
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Location: Southern AZ

Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby cimmaronjim » Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:28 pm

Thanks for the replies. A lot of good points there. I am checking out all the AOPA resources.

As far as the decisions that have been made, this is all exploratory in nature and of course nothing written in stone, but I did want to present a plan.

A lot of what I am considering is appropriate to the community at the airstrip I want to base at.

As far as the airplane, I definitely want an experimental light sport. The one mentioned is affordable and very familiar and popular at this field, however, I remain open to any models.

In talks with my instructor it seems that many of his students really have no way to use their ticket once earned, so I am looking to fill this Light Sport niche that I believe is under served here.

Ideally, I would have a plane to build a club around, but I need to find out the interest level before I can pursue acquisition....RE is there a possible benefactor, plane or capitol?, could enough members be found to self finance it? Could I realize a quick reimbursement through share sales if I financed it?

I am also investigating ways to incorporate for best liability protection etc.

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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby SportPilot » Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:56 pm

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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby drseti » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:03 pm

SportPilot wrote:You can, of course, form a corporation that would purchase and own the airplane, but I'm not sure that really insulates the members from liability. If one of your members puts his doctor friend in the back seat and kills him, are each of you liable for the $20 million a jury awards his widow? IDK.


This is precisely why my flight school (originally organized as a Sole Proprietorship) is now an LLC.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

cimmaronjim
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:22 pm
Location: Southern AZ

Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby cimmaronjim » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:28 pm

From my research so far either an LLC or an INC would protect members from something of that description.

As far as a Remos, CT etc that could be a plan for a later addition but this one is to bring it to the "masses"

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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby SportPilot » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:38 pm

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Cluemeister
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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby Cluemeister » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:54 pm

I would find someone with money to jumpstart the club. Perhaps an ultralight veteran who has a soft spot for youngins and their flying dreams? New members would then buy out part of his shares as they came on board.

If I were that benefactor, I would want to see there were at least 2-3 others ready to pony up a regular share. And I would want to see a plan to get more members. Certainly having the plane available makes getting members easier.

Just another thought!

cimmaronjim
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:22 pm
Location: Southern AZ

Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby cimmaronjim » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:31 pm

SportPilot wrote:Yes. I just looked at your intended airport. It looks like the plane you have chosen is more suited for that airport. You are verging on Ultralight vs LSA. That's OK. You have to start somewhere. You can probably cut my cost figures in half.


I understand what you are saying, but those planes with a 100HP rotax are more capable than they look. Wish I had been ready last week, I would have gotten one of these which sold for $25,500

Image

Cluemeister wrote:I would find someone with money to jumpstart the club. Perhaps an ultralight veteran who has a soft spot for youngins and their flying dreams? New members would then buy out part of his shares as they came on board.

If I were that benefactor, I would want to see there were at least 2-3 others ready to pony up a regular share. And I would want to see a plan to get more members. Certainly having the plane available makes getting members easier.

Just another thought!

I think you are right cluemeister. It would be great if I could find one!!

SportPilot
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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby SportPilot » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:06 pm

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Last edited by SportPilot on Sun Mar 20, 2016 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Jack Tyler
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Re: Looking to start an experimental/sport flying club

Postby Jack Tyler » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:59 am

Jim, this isn't meant to be prescriptive, just descriptive of the two times I've been somewhat in your shoes.

#1: We owned a Part 23 a/c (Grumman Traveler, an AA-5) that was the family plane, but we knew we would eventually need to leave flying for a while when beginning to sail offshore. We looked at the rental a/c available, weren't impressed, and so we used the AOPA co-ownership package to form what most folks call a partnership. This was in 1995. Where this overlaps with your thoughts is that we needed to find a small group of people all of whom were interested in sharing the ownership of and flying a specific plane, based at a defined airport. So this is somewhat equivalent to the 'pick a plane and then try to find co-owners' approach. We wanted a total of 4 co-owners altho' later the group expanded to 5 because it was cheaper and there was almost never a conflict in scheduling the plane's use. While we lived in a large metro area (Tampa Bay, with Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater all joined at the hip), we quickly found 3 co-owners all of whom lived quite close by, so I'm not sure the 2.5M population actually contributed much to our success. IMO the main reasons it was easy to find agreeable co-owners were a) the plane was simple tho' IFR certified, b) inexpensive to fly & maintain, and c) in very good condition at that time. We started with a draft of the co-ownership agreement, which frames out things like minimum airstrip requirements, how use would be shared, what if a partner wanted to sell his/her share, and so forth. So from the potential co-owner's point of view it was pretty turnkey, and it only took one group discussion to modify the agreement language and add a few 'what ifs'. That co-owernship existed from 1995 until early this year when lack of use motivated the co-owerns to sell it to a private buyer, so it's fair to say the 'turnkey' approach was always suitable enough to generate new co-owners as old ones wanted to leave.

#2: When re-entering aviation in 2011 we thought we'd build a RV-12 but it turned out we needed more useful load and volume than that. Otherwise, we were open to a mix of older, fairly simple Part 23 a/c like Tigers & Cardinals. At the time there was an on-line 'partner matching' service (which AOPA bought out and apparently later abandoned) so we used it (plus BB's at the airports) to connect with the pilots in the Jacksonville FL area. The pitch, just borrowing from our previous, very positive experience, was to find 4 potential partners who would then select the plane and decide where to base it. So this was the 'find the partners and then pick the plane' approach. Of course in 2011, 10 years after 9/11 and 16 years after our first co-ownership began, things were very different in aviation. The financial recovery was only beginning to be felt widely, recreational aviation activity was less apparent, and the demographic shift due to aging pilots was much more apparent. Nevertheless, I ended up with about 8 folks in the area who said they wanted to belong to a partnership, provided the plane and its location plus the nature of the group itself were all suitable. At this point, everything looks quite promising, right? As it turned out, no. We couldn't even find one pilot with whom to co-own an a/c that was suitable for our needs. Airport location (there are 3 GA airports in the Jax area spread across 30 miles of driving), type of aircraft (Vans RV's to 172's to Bonanzas), the upfront financial cost of purchase, and the inevitable difference between people liking an idea and being financially & personally prepared to act on it all played a role. My takeaways from this experience were a) yes, times were different and it was harder to develop an a/c co-ownership from scratch, but also b) it was too much of a conceptual leap for most folks given the lack of a defined plane & airport location. But having said that, I know of a very nice Cherokee 180 with four co-owners and one of them has been trying to sell his share for a year now. The plane is nice and generally suitable for many missions, and the price reasonable, but the knowns of plane and airport haven't been enough to attract even one buyer, let alone a handful.

I hope at least some of that is useful to you. Good luck!
Jack
Flying in/out KBZN, Bozeman MT in a Grumman Tiger
Do you fly for recreational purposes? Please visit http://www.theraf.org


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