America’s Next Great Flying Club Takes Flight

americas_nextThe Ground Effect Advisors are pleased to announce that the winner of the first ever Flying Club Scholarship has successfully launched the Cape Fear Flying Club in Wilmington, NC. On May 31st Zachary (Zach) Piech was notified that he beat out one hundred and twenty five other applicants to win the Scholarship which offered financial support, consulting and product and services to help him get a flying club off the ground at Wilmington International Airport.

The club has officially been open for businesses for three months and has grown to ten members, including two Certified Flight Instructors. The members have logged over 40 hours in the clubs DA40 and the club is anticipating adding an additional DA40 (2005 DA40-FP) this Spring.

Ground Effect Advisors are thrilled with the success their winner has had. GEA Partner Todd McClamroch stated “We are thrilled to see the success Zach is having growing Cape Fear Flyers, it proves to us that he was truly an exceptional candidate for the scholarship and just needed the mentorship that Ground Effect Advisors and our partners could provide to make his dream a reality.”

The Ground Effect Advisors are contemplating offering the scholarship again in 2014. Additionally, the GEA team plans to publish an eBook this year sharing some of the learnings from their experiences managing flying clubs and with knowledge gained helping Zach Piech get the Cape Fear Flyers off the ground.

The Scholarship winner Piech received $1,000 from Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, 20 hours of consultation from the Ground Effect Advisors, and various products and services from partners including David Clark, Sporty’s Pilot Shop, Signature Flight Support, Cirrus Aircraft, Schedule Master, PilotEdge SimpleFlight and The cash prize helped cover most of the legal and filing fees needed to get the club started. Piech commented on the support he received “The Cape Fear Flying Club exists today because of the support of the Flying Club Scholarship, Ground Effect Advisors, AOPA, Ray Speciale and sponsors Sportys, David Clark and Schedule Master. The most challenging step for us was the legal framework and club documentation, a hurdle we cleared successfully thanks to the tremendous support we received.”

Ground Effect Advisors is grateful to the partners that helped make this scholarship a reality.

Ways to Modernize Your Flying Club

This week’s question comes to us from Steve from Denver, CO. He mentions their club has a surplus budget and are looking for ideas for ways to modernize their Flying Club. Al, Louis, Marc and Todd share their thoughts in this week’s edition of Contact the Tower:

Ground Effect Advisors Hit the Airwaves with Simple Flight Radio

GEA_radio_smallThe Ground Effect Advisors were guests on Simple Flight Radio this past week. The team was joined by the winner of their flying club scholarship, Zachary Piech, who will be launching a flying club at the Wilmington International Airport (KILM). Also appearing on the show was Jay Hahn representing three candidates that were given a runner-up scholarship to start a club at Jefferson City Memorial Airport.

This summer the Ground Effect Advisors will be working closely with both the winner and the runner-ups to help them navigate the process of getting a flying club off the ground. Listen to the episode on

Simple Flight Radio is a weekly, live radio show focused on finding amazing people doing amazing things in aviation. Tune in Sunday’s at 8pm Central.

Winner of First Ever Flying Club Scholarship Announced

scholarshipwinner_2After four months of receiving and evaluating 126 applications for the first ever Flying Club scholarship, Ground Effect Advisors (GEA) has announced their winning applicant. Zachary (Zach) Piech, of Wilmington, North Carolina and his prospective flying club, Cape Fear Flyers, will receive over $3,500 worth of products, services, and support from recognizable partners, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), David Clark, Sporty’s Pilot Shop, Signature Flight Support, Cirrus Aircraft, Schedule Master, PilotEdge and, all of which is geared towards getting the next great Flying Club off the ground.

“This has been an inspirational process, throughout”, said Al Waterloo, a GEA partner. “We received so many incredible applications, and Zach’s really jumped off of the page at us. Upon performing further due diligence on our previously announced finalists, we found him to embody everything we were seeking: passion; vision; drive; and of course, potential for sustained success. Zach has been working towards this day for over a year with little progress. As with most prospective Flying Clubs, navigating the complex landscape is difficult, with many bumps along the way. We are ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with Zach and the prospect of making a lasting impact on the general aviation community in the Wilmington area”.

In a surprise move, GEA also awarded a runner-up scholarship to Chip Gentry, Jay Hahn, and Jeffrey Naught, who collectively submitted an application for a prospective Flying Club in Jefferson City, Missouri. The team from Jefferson City will receive $1,000 from AOPA and additional support from GEA to augment their efforts to establish a Flying Club.

“The quality and potential value to general aviation we saw in a Jefferson City Flying Club forced us to pivot from our original objective of awarding a single scholarship”, stated Todd McClamroch, a GEA partner. “With incredible support from AOPA, we are quite excited to extend this program to another applicant with qualities too good to pass up.”

Beyond working with the applicants from Wilmington, North Carolina and Jefferson City, Missouri, GEA and AOPA will be jointly developing various tools intended to assist the remaining pool of scholarship applicants in launching a Flying Club. Additional details to follow.

By |May 30th, 2013|News|0 Comments

Ground Effect Advisors Announces 10 Finalists For Flying Club Scholarship

finalists1With just over two weeks to go before a winner is selected, Ground Effect Advisors (GEA) has announced 10 Finalists for their Flying Club Scholarship. These 10 prospective clubs were selected from 126 applications received since the scholarship was announced on January 25th of this year. The winning applicant, to be announced on May 31st, will receive over $3,500 worth of products and support, all of which is geared towards getting the next great Flying Club off the ground.

“When we announced the scholarship, we knew we were breaking new ground”, said Louis Bowers, a GEA partner. “Instead of focusing on the individual, as most aviation scholarships do, our intent was to provide a broader foundation for the growth of General Aviation. We were absolutely blown away with the response. We expected somewhere in the range of 25 to 40 applications. To receive 126 from 33 different states is astonishing, yet also speaks to the tremendous potential of Flying Clubs.”

To narrow the field, GEA relied on their own recipe for success as articulated by Marc Epner, another partner within GEA. “To be successful, a club has to have a strong leader with a vision of what the club is to become. The environment has to be supportive and conducive to growth, and required resources need to be available at the right time and place. This is about building an organization for the long haul. We see that in our 10 finalists.”

The ten finalists are:
• Kenneth A. from Henderson Executive Airport; Las Vegas, Nevada (KHND)
• Bill F. from Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field; Terre Haute, Indiana (KHUF)
• Drew A. from Trenton Mercer Airport; Trenton, New Jersey (KTTN)
• Bryan L. from Sundance Airpark; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (KHSD)
• Gary L. from Camarillo Airport; Camarillo, California (KCMA)
• Tom G from Currituck County Regional Airport; Currituck, North Carolina (KONX)
• Scott C. from Iowa City Municipal Airport; Iowa City, Iowa (KIOW)
• Jay H. and Jeff N. from Jefferson City Memorial Airport; Jefferson City, Missouri (KJEF)
• Zachary P. from Wilmington International Airport; Wilmington, North Carolina (KILM)
• Eric T. from Bemidji Regional Airport; Bemidji, Minnesota (KBJI)
View our map of airports represented by the 126 applications and 10 finalists:

Epner further noted that, “We knew we had something special from the start. The enthusiastic participation of recognizable partners, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), David Clark, Sporty’s Pilot Shop, Signature Flight Support, Cirrus Aircraft, Schedule Master, PilotEdge and was our first indication that this was going to be well received. The overwhelming response from the aviation community sends a strong message that general aviation is alive and well and committed to working together to achieve our common dream. We’re excited to be part of that team.”

Ground Effect Advisors Received 126 Applications for Flying Club Scholarship

infographic-thumb300When Ground Effect Advisors (GEA) announced a scholarship focused exclusively on Flying Clubs on February 15th, the expectation was that approximately 40 – 50 people would submit applications seeking assistance in starting a flying club. One hundred twenty six scholarship applications from 37 states were received, showing an impressive level of interest and need for support in forming flying clubs in the United States. On May 15th, Ground Effect Advisors will announce ten finalists for the scholarship which provides the winning applicant with over $3,500 worth of products, services, and support, all of which is geared towards getting the next great Flying Club off the ground. The winner will be announced on June 1, 2013.

“We are inspired by the quality and volume of applications we received for this scholarship”, comments Todd McClamroch, a GEA Executive. “The overwhelming response sends a strong message of the common thread that runs through the pilot community. Our scholarship will help one of these applicants get a flying club off the ground, but we don’t plan to stop there. We see great potential at airports across the country and we are dedicated to working with our partners to help as many of these applicants as possible.”

Ground Effect Advisors has released an InfoGraphic that communicates some of the interesting statistics that came through the application process. View the full size infographic.

The Flying Club Scholarship, the first of its kind, is meant to assist in starting America’s next great flying club and benefit a community of pilots in the process. Because Flying Clubs have proven to be an effective method to foster general aviation growth, several aviation organizations, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) have thrown their support behind the effort to leverage the Flying Club community. AOPA has donated $1,000 in seed funding for the scholarship winner. Adam Smith, Senior Vice President of AOPA’s Center to Advance the Pilot Community stated, “the stakeholders of general aviation are finally beginning to realize the vast potential offered by flying clubs. The opportunity offered by GEA is very promising and certainly will garner the industry’s attention and enhance momentum. I love the idea of scholarships to help start flying clubs. Like a scholarship to help someone learn to fly, but a gift that keeps on giving back to aviation for many years to come.”

Ground Effect Advisors would like to thank their partners who have contributed funds and goods to support the formation of the next great flying club. Our partners include: Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA), David Clark, Sporty’s Pilot Shop, Signature Flight Support, Cirrus Aircraft, Schedule Master, PilotEdge,, Heading 370 & Simple Flight Radio.

By |May 2nd, 2013|News|0 Comments

It’s Just Lunch

lunch2When was the last time you were invited out to lunch by an entire Approach Control facility over the radio? It probably hasn’t happened in a while if at all. Well the other day, the Leading Edge Flying Club got just that!

Ground Effect Advisor’s Louis Bowers turned what would normally be a simple and quick flight review into a 6 airplane fly out! Louis thought it would be awesome to take his flight review over the top and extend the learning and entertainment opportunity to the entire Leading Edge Flying Club. Putting Mr. Bowers’ thought into action, six flying club airplanes fired up on the morning of 4/13/13 and flew VFR into St. Louis Lambert International (STL). Don’t think it went unnoticed when a caravan of weekend warriors showed up asking for Class B clearance into one of the largest airports in the Midwest.

St. Louis Approach really thought something was up when a Piper Archer, Piper Dakota, Cessna 172, Cirrus SR20 and two Cirrus SR22’s all landed at once. Approach control asked one of the airplanes if something was going on at STL – Lambert International that day.
The pilot responded “Yeah! We are going to lunch!”

Jealousy presented itself quickly at the STL Tracon Center when they responded “Next time you come, fly into Spirit of St. Louis, and we’ll join you!”

lunchHow about that!? What was going to be a simple VFR Flight Review turned into a standing invitation and injection of fun for lunch between controllers and pilots! This is the true demonstration of what a flying club can do. As the club flies by, they turn heads. The level of fun is infectious and people want to join in.

Think about the learning opportunity for the pilots in the airplanes too! Flying VFR into a Class B airport isn’t something weekend warriors regularly do. It’s a pretty incredible learning opportunity and confidence booster. This one goes down in the books!

The real question is, who is going to have the honor of buying lunch next time? The pilots, or controllers of St. Louis Approach? A flip of a coin will have to decide that battle!

By |April 30th, 2013|Fly Outs|0 Comments

From Surviving To Thriving; A Guide to Effective Club Leadership Webinar

Starting and building a flying club into a successful operation requires effective leadership at its core. The tone and energy set at the top are two of the most critical elements in the foundation for near and long-term success. Through his experiences in charting the course for Leading Edge Flying Club, Ground Effect Advisor’s own Marc Epner has accumulated a wealth of knowledge regarding the essential management ingredients of a thriving organization. Please join him tonight, April 17, 2013, at 8:00 PM EDT as he partners with AOPA’s Center for the Advancement of the Pilot Community to host a live webinar: From Surviving to Thriving; A Guide to Effective Club Leadership. Registration and other details are available here.

Questions and comments will be fielded during the webinar.

By |April 17th, 2013|Webinars|0 Comments

Experience Multiplier Turns A Flyout Into Something So Much More

What pilot doesn’t enjoy heading out to the airport, firing up an airplane and flying out somewhere for a $100 burger? A fly-out is a great experience that can be enjoyed by pilots weekend after weekend, allowing us to really seize the value offered by a pilot’s license. When you inject a flying club into a fly-out, the reasons flying clubs represent an experience multiplier to the pilot community become quickly evident. I realized this firsthand when we piled 15 fellow members from the Leading Edge Flying Club (LEFC) into four aircraft and met individuals from several other Wisconsin and Iowa flying clubs at Kealy’s Kafe at Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport (KJVL) for breakfast, socializing and, of course, hangar flying. Over a few hours, here are some of the things I got out of my experience…

A fellow LEFC member and I intended to fly the club’s Sky Arrow to and from KJVL. The Sky Arrow is a great airplane for tooling around the Chicago area or making short cross-country trips, as was the case here. The Sky Arrow is a two-person, tandem seat pusher that offers incredible views with a bubble canopy configuration. Due to a low battery, complicated by the frigid January temperature, the Sky Arrow did not start. Thankfully, two of the other aircraft going on the fly-out had held back to ensure everyone got off of the ground, and we were able to quickly hop in and depart only a few minutes behind schedule. Had we planned to fly on our own, the trip would have been over before it had begun.

cirrus1Further proof that a flying club can turn an aircraft maintenance issue into an opportunity: a few minutes after walking away from the Sky Arrow, I found myself in a club member’s Cirrus SR20. This being my first time in a Cirrus, I was blown away by the experience and how seemingly no details were overlooked during the aircraft’s design process. Riding in the back seat gave me the opportunity to peer around and take in the experience over the shoulder of the PIC, while also exploring the cabin details.

My fellow passenger from the Sky Arrow was able to hitch a ride in the back of a Cessna 310 – the turn of events worked out nicely for him as well. With over 30 pilots arriving in a variety of airplanes, including an LSA, a taildragger, and several Cessnas, the fly-out was a pilot-rich environment. All attendees took full advantage of this experience. Name tags were distributed, and the whole event was like a grown-up version of musical chairs. There was a constant buzz to the atmosphere, and conversations covered the entire gamut of aviation. Even pilots not originally part of the contingent, but who happened to otherwise be at KJVL for breakfast, joined in on the fun. One of the culminating events of the day came in the form of a remix of Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me, which can be viewed (at your own risk) here.

gps_mapBuilding upon the musical chairs theme introduced above, there was a lot of aircraft shuffling on the tarmac of KJVL before kicking off the return leg to KPWK. I settled into the left seat of the LEFC Archer and logged some cross-country PIC time with a fellow club member. It was fun to be at a different airport and hear so many familiar voices and tail numbers over the radio. We ultimately lifted off just as the Leading Edge SR22 fired up. As a testament to the speed of the SR22, we landed at KPWK only immediately prior to the SR22 (and had watched it gain ground on us the entire time on the Avidyne multi-function display). The journey, though, offered a great opportunity to share different piloting techniques, aerial waypoints and provided another set of trained eyes to look for others taking advantage of the perfect flying conditions. Once back at KPWK, all participants gathered in our flying club’s common area to debrief on all of the fun and settle the financial details. Total cost per person came in at just under $93, proving that the $100 burger (or breakfast, in our case) still has a pulse!!!

For me, going on the fly-out to KJVL provided firsthand evidence of how a flying club can be an experience multiplier. Had I planned to go up to KJVL for breakfast on my own, I would have been grounded for mechanical reasons. Instead, through the community of a flying club, I ended up making the trip, logging PIC time in a different type of aircraft than I had originally planned, spent a few hours with a great group of fellow pilots and rode in a Cirrus for the first time – all for under $100. When are we doing this again?

By |March 6th, 2013|Fly Outs|0 Comments

Flying Clubs – Making Your Go / No-Go Decision Fun

flyingclub_panoramaEvery time a pilot climbs into the cockpit before a flight, he or she is faced with a critical go / no-go decision. In making such a decision, the prevailing and expected weather, the state of the aircraft, and the condition of the pilot must all be considered. How does the dynamic of a personal go / no-go decision change when multiple pilots assemble for a planned cross-country and the weather doesn’t cooperate? I recently found out first-hand.

In mid-November, a group of friends / fellow members of Leading Edge Flying Club and I planned a cross-country trip to Central County Airport (68C) in Iola, Wisconsin to experience the annual holiday party held at the airfield. The event at 68C is not just any holiday party; it is grassroots flying at its finest – a congregation of pilots with an overabundance of food (nearly ten turkeys and ten hams) and aviation cheer. For all participants, the motivation to make the trip was high, as it offered a chance to fulfill many aviation objectives: landing at a grass strip; logging extended cross-country time; and, most importantly, bonding with fellow members of the flying club.

On the day of our adventure, we each arrived at KPWK early in the morning desperate for the scud of clouds and mist to dissipate by the time of our intended departure. Given the distance to our destination, coupled with the noon serving time of the turkeys and ham, we needed to be airborne by a certain time. As Todd McClamroch described in his post, Lunch With the Pilots, the six pilots (and one prospective pilot) present maximized the collaboration potential offered by a flying club and engaged in a technology-fueled discussion utilizing ForeFlight to determine our options. While designated pilots-in-command had been established for the first leg of the trip, everyone maintained an ownership interest in the critical go / no-go decision. Each of us weighed in on the current and anticipated weather conditions along our planned route with the most recently-issued terminal aerodome forecasts at hand. This process evolved into a discussion about the different airspace classes and the legal flying limitations of each. It was a great way to intertwine flight planning and refreshing our brains with some of the concepts that often fade after getting a private pilot license.

After weighing all of the available information, we collectively made the right call not to launch. By making our decision in a flying club environment, we engaged in a much more comprehensive process than we would likely otherwise have had had we been faced with the same challenge individually. Rather than simply cancelling the flight or launching with a case of get-there- itis, we determined that we had a weather problem and held an open forum to discuss the potential solutions. Where could we divert along different points of the route? Would the instrument-rated pilots feel comfortable taking the lead? Could we fly west first, where the ceilings were reported to be higher, and then turn north? What would we do if we arrived at our destination and field conditions were not ideal? These are all questions we should ask ourselves when planning a flight on our own, but as I found out this past weekend, planning a flight with a group of other pilots / flying club members helps ensure no stone goes unturned. In the end, everyone felt comfortable with the decision that was made and all of us walked away better, safer pilots.

To get more out of aviation, pilots should not just cancel a flight after a quick read of the existing or forecasted weather conditions. Weather conditions change, and the forecast is not always accurate. Being in a flying club and flying with fellow members enhances the go / no-go decision process by making it collaborative and fostering an environment in which pilots challenge each other. If the weather is bad, you should get to the same decision, but the journey along the way becomes much more meaningful.

By |February 12th, 2013|Fly Outs|0 Comments