Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Guest Post: The Story of STL Aviators Flying Club On the Occasion of the Inaugural Flight at Spirit of St. Louis Airport

By Carmelo Turdo
STL Aviators flying club members gathered on Saturday, March 23, for the inaugural flight in the group's Cessna 172P Skyhawk from Million Air at Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The flight, consisting of three circuits of the pattern using both main runways, was flown by the club's President, Greg Collier, and David Carroll. The flight was the result of the months of work spent preparing the business and membership aspects of the club as described below By Greg Collier in his guest post.      

STL Aviators is the St. Louis area's newest flying club, incorporated as a Missouri 501(c)(7) non-profit organization on February 20. The flying club is not a flight school, but it is a way for members who have attained their Private Pilot Certificate or higher rating to gain access to club leased aircraft at reasonable cost and with the attitude of ownership. There are already 24 members, and this first club aircraft will remain based at  Spirit of St. Louis Airport. This aircraft, and possibly three more, are planned for the club's use. The club will also offer a social benefit of camradery through regular meetings, participation in aviation events and community outreach.

Guest Post: The Story of Our Club, by STL Aviators Club President Greg Collier

Thursday, November 8th, 2018…St. Louis: partly cloudy, high of 41 degrees F, low of 34 degrees F. VFR for most of the area. Also, the day many of us received some bad news…our flight club was closing. No fanfare, no reason, just shutting down operations at the end of the month. This would leave roughly one hundred pilots, some active students, without a place to “slip the surly bonds of Earth” and enjoy the mystical nature of taking flight. Within three very short weeks, we were all about to be pilots without a bird to fly. A social media grass roots effort literally sprung up overnight to keep the club alive, mainly through the efforts and relationships of the club’s head CFI, Will Kientz. It was clear that we would not have much time to get things in motion. Will, along with myself and fellow pilots Mark Turpin, Ben Shakman, Charleen Shakman, Dave Carroll, Aaron Cockrell and Corey Welch started working quickly toward forming a new club.

A mere eight days later, on November 16th, 2018, at 8:00 P.M., we had our first group meeting to solicit interest and were happily shocked at the great turnout. The meeting proved that there was a great deal of interest in a new flight group. As it happens, the old club was not really a club at all, but more accurately a for-profit business. The hundred or so pilots were simply customers and not active members in a social group. This new from-scratch effort was not simply a reincarnation of the old club. The new club would be non-equity and have a broader goal: “To be a non-profit club which provides a safe and low-cost opportunity for pilots to fly and socialize.” The last few words of that goal really separated this band of pilots from other groups in the St. Louis area.

We had our next meeting on November 27th, 2018, to lay out the club's short and long-term plans. At this point, we had a purpose and a budget, leads on two aircraft with bases, and a lot of enthusiasm. We solicited for membership commitments that very night. We had the numbers to fully get the club in motion. With a club attorney on board, a trust fund was formed and on December 5th, 2018, a meeting was called to transfer money into the trust account and elect our very first board of directors. The board complement being: Greg Collier, President; Mark Turpin, Vice President; David Kincade, Treasurer; Tom Gittemeier, Secretary; Scott Lagle, Safety Officer; Paul Getman and Robert Branham as Maintenance officers. Corey Welch was quickly secured as the club’s IT resource.

From there, corporation paperwork was created and filed, leases signed, and insurance secured. We were about to be very much in business, but the business would be solidly not-for-profit. No salaries, just volunteers working hard to pull together something that resonated deeply with each of us…to simply fly and enjoy the comradery of other pilots.

On February 20th, 2019, it was official: STL Aviators was incorporated and fully formed. Our first club meeting was March 10th, 2019, with great ceremony. Our inaugural flight was March 23rd, 2019, at KSUS with our very first bird, a Cessna 172P with tail number N62475 - a bird that was familiar to us as it was part of the old club’s fleet. And so now our journey really begins…to keep the joys and comradery of fellow flyers alive, to be safe, and to be a part of something larger than the sum of its numbers…To aviate!

I want to add that AOPA was a great resource, and Steve Bateman was of great help in directing the group and the club's formation. Many thanks Steve!

Editor's Note: The Aero Experience thanks STL Aviators President, Greg Collier, for contributing his first-hand account of the development of the flying club. We also thank the members of the club, current and future, for keeping general aviation alive and well in the St. Louis area and the Midwest!

1 comment:

Gregory said...

Thanks Carmelo! Looking forward to growing this club into something very special.