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 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

Selecting the Right Aircraft for Flying Clubs

sunshinesThe flying club push being seen throughout the industry is going gangbusters! Or to be a complete avgeek, the flying club push is at “full throttle”. Ground Effect Advisors is an active part of that effort; as evidenced by the launch of our scholarship to help start the next great flying club this past week. The Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association is also a key player in the drive to build excitement among fellow aviators about the endless potential of flying in a community-based environment! The list of specific endeavors is too large to list here. All share the same passion and excitement as we come together to change the aviation world for the better.

Another piece of exciting news is that AOPA has asked Marc Epner of Ground Effect Advisors to lead the next AOPA flying club webinar. It only takes a few seconds of speaking with Marc to realize the amount of passion he has for aviation, flying clubs, and giving back! It’s contagious. Please join AOPA and Marc on February 13th, 2013 @ 8PM EST. Register to attend here: ‘Selecting the Right Aircraft’. Marc will be sharing some of his expert insight into the aircraft selection process and its
implications on a flying club’s fleet and membership. The content of the webinar is aimed not just at those starting a new flying club, but to aid in the growth and sustainability of existing clubs as well.

Marc will discuss:

  • Guidelines for establishing a club culture and its impact on the fleet make-up;
  • Fleet options and sources;
  • Ownership options; and
  • Identification of stakeholders, and understanding their value proposition.

With that as a backdrop, you will be poised to make something special happen at your local airport. If you feel your community could use a flying club, and you have the energy and passion to bring your vision to reality, please apply for the Ground Effect Advisors’ flying club scholarship. The scholarship will equip your club with the tools, advice, motivation and excitement to launch a successful flying club.

By |February 5th, 2013|News|0 Comments

Aviation Scholarships: A New Twist

schoarship_blogTake a look at any list of aviation scholarships on the internet and you will find one thing in common. Each of those scholarships are focused on helping support an individual pilot in pursuing their aviation goals and dreams. It is great that there are so many aviation scholarships available . However, The Ground Effect Advisors feel strongly that there is a void in the landscape of aviation scholarships.

What is needed is an innovative look at how a aviation scholarships can help in building a sustainable community to benefit General Aviation. It is from this idea that my fellow Ground Effect Advisors and I came up with the first of its kind, flying club scholarship. The goal is to have a scholarship that focuses on creating a successful flying club where it might be needed most. This club can then help support a wide variety of pilots and the community around the airport. AOPA’s Adam Smith said “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.”

Ground Effect Advisors is offering a scholarship to assist in starting America’s next great flying club. Leveraging broad aviation and flying club experience, we will help you create a flying club from the ground up. An application window has opened and will run from now through May 1, 2013. At which point we will select ten finalists with whom we will have more in-depth interviews to determine where we might be able to provide the most benefit to the general aviation community. We believe by helping to create a new flying club we will help a larger number of pilots.

We firmly believe flying clubs help keep pilots active and socially engaged. At the same time they are a perfect environment for developing new pilots as the community aspect of the club helps to foster a positive learning environment for new students. We believe if we can help launch a club it could positively benefit 25-50 pilots in a matter of months.

We hope this idea has you as excited as we are and will provide a welcome change to aviation scholarships. If you or anyone you know is interested in creating America’s next great flying club, please apply today!

The Buddy System

In my last post, I spoke about the value of CFI membership in a flying club provides to the rest of the members. Besides CFIs, another pool of aviation knowledge readily available to flying club members is the application of the buddy system. When flying buddies are in a cockpit together, they should challenge each other throughout an entire flight to make it a mutually beneficial learning experience.

Starting with the preflight briefing and aircraft checks, a great flying buddy is someone who, while not acting as pilot-in-command (“PIC”) for a particular flight, prepares as if he or she will be PIC. This mentality forces the PIC to critically think through the different aspects of preparing for a flight, rather than just going through the motions. A flying buddy’s presence could result in a reminder to the PIC that the oil dipstick is not fully in and locked or to engage in a discussion about the particulars of prevailing conditions when the forecast calls for something other than ceilings and visibility unlimited. When I fly with buddies, I like to find out what tools they use to obtain all available information prior to a flight. As opposed to a one-off conversation, I get the most value through real-world experience before we take to the skies. It is through this type of interaction that I’ve recently expanded my ForeFlight knowledge base. What better way is there to learn how to maximize the utility of ForeFlight than through talking through the entire profile of a forthcoming flight?

Once airborne, the learning potential of having a flying buddy onboard really takes off. We as pilots should strive to leverage the past learning experiences of our flying buddies to make ourselves better pilots. One such aspect of learning is the use of technology. Aircraft systems have become increasingly complex over the past several years, and most pilots have developed knowledge of these complicated systems to varying degrees. A non-instrument-rated pilot, for instance, may only be familiar with the direct-to-function in a Garmin GTN 650. An instrument-rated flying buddy may be able to pass along tips to more effectively use the system to navigate through complicated airspace (for example, Chicago’s airspace, complete with areas of Class B, Class C and Class D-controlled airspace). On a recent flight, one of my flying buddies showed me how to extend the display of runway centerlines on the screen when approaching an unfamiliar airport at night. If I had been flying solo in the same scenario, I may have figured out how to use the functionality, but I would have wasted valuable time and concentration in doing so.

At the conclusion of a flight, there is always potential for a good debrief when another pilot came along for the ride. In the scenarios I discussed above, I portrayed the PIC as the one doing the learning. Obviously, this is not always the case. I previously mentioned that the buddy pilot should prepare as if he or she will be PIC. This mindset should carry through the entire flight. The buddy pilot should be observing, reacting and thinking about the flight as it transpires and consider how he or she would react in each situation. The post-flight discussion could be a great forum to talk through any particular aspects that may differ and hopefully results in some great takeaways for both pilots.

Now how does this relate to flying clubs? Couldn’t a pilot go out and find his or her own flying buddy? Of course, but the potential for linking multiple aviators through the social forum of a flying club is much greater than the other means available to pilots. A flying club, when operating as designed, brings pilots together. Through flying club interactions, it quickly becomes obvious that an empty seat in an aircraft is a wasted seat. While cost sharing may be a catalyst to creating flying buddy bonds, making better pilots is certainly be one of the favorable byproducts.



By |December 14th, 2012|News|0 Comments

Lunch with the Pilots

Picture this: a prospective student pilot walks into a his or her local flight school inquiring about flight training and eight hours later the student walks out after a nearly full day of hangar flying, lunch with the pilots, and his first flight in a General Aviation aircraft. Sounds like a dream, right? Surely if this type of experience existed the industry would see all  prospective student signing up for lessons.

Meet Harsha. He did the best thing a prospective student pilot can do when wanting to learn more about flying, he walked passed the flight school and sought out a flight club. He read an a recent article the AOPA website about Leading Edge Flying Club, a club with the motto; “Great Planes, Great People“.

Harsha stopped by to learn about flying and was warmly greeted by six club members who were preparing to head out on a fly-out adventure. As all good pilots would have done they did some weights and measures in their head then realizing they could fit him in, they quickly invited Harsha along for his first GA Flight. The only issue was that Mother Nature was not on board with their plans. What ensued was Harsha’s first introduction to one of the biggest considerations in flying, weather. He watched as six pilots discussed options and worked through the go-no-go decision. It was determined the group would need to wait and see if the weather would improve. Harsha seemed to be enjoying himself and was happy to stick around to partake in a few hours of hangar flying that ensued.

As often is the case, the weather was slow to improve so the pilots took their cars and moved the party to a local pizzeria with the prospective student pilot in tow, who was quickly losing the prefix “prospective”. The camaraderie only found in the aviation community continued despite our distance from an airport or airplane. During lunch Harsha received a call from his wife and he told her he was out to lunch with the pilots. When he got off he shared that his wife was surprised to hear he had just met these men and was now out with “the pilots”.

As the bill was settled, there were some smirks around the table as pilots checked in with Foreflight. Their home airport, Chicago Executive, had just gone VFR. It was one of two airports in the area reporting VFR with a full selection of IFR, Light IFR and Marginal VFR in every direction.

It was as if the air raid siren had just gone off. The LEFC members sprang from their chairs and reported back to the airport. Within 30 minutes, Leading Edge Flying Club had eight club members and one future club member in the air in two club airplanes and two privately owned airplanes (Beechcraft Bonanza, Piper Archer III, Piper Dakota and a Cirrus SR20). The prospective pilot enjoyed his first flight in a general aviation airplane and spent the day as one of the club. Harsha’s story had a very happy ending.

I worry that too often those that want to join our ranks as pilots get turned away by a cold reception at a flight school. “The Pilots” don’t let the prospective pilot taste what it is he or she has dreamed of. Didn’t we all dream of flying and spending time talking about flying? Today Harsha met a family of pilots who get together under the name Leading Edge Flying Club. I don’t doubt that he will soon start his training and I know he will have a support structure that only a flight club can offer that will help him achieve his dream of becoming a certificated pilot.

When was the last time a flight school took their prospective student to lunch, engaged them in hangar flying and then got them airborne? I challenge all pilots in a flight club to make this a goal in the upcoming year.

Todd McClamroch is the editor of, a blog dedicated to covering the topic of learning to fly and leveraging a private pilot certificate.  

By |December 9th, 2012|News|0 Comments

The Tank Ran Dry

Why do we always have to keep our tanks filled in aviation? Where in the rule book does it say we have to keep our tanks filled? Oh….It does say something in the rule book about filling your tanks up.

§ 91.151 Fuel requirements for flight in VFR conditions.

(a) No person may begin a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed—
(1) During the day, to fly after that for at least 30 minutes; or
(2) At night, to fly after that for at least 45 minutes.

But seriously……
Think about what you can put into a tank. Need help? Here is what I wrote down in this order:

1) Sharks
2) Fuel
3) Money
4) Soldiers
5) Rubber Super Balls
6) Nothing?

Okay, if we want to fly an airplane, we need to put something in our tanks. The first thing that comes to mind is fuel. Metaphorically, we are filling our tanks with money. Are fuel and money really essential in aviation? Yes, if you want to fly. No if you want to hang out at the airport.

Money is one of the biggest hurdles flying clubs run into. The money tank needs to have something in it so that the flying club’s members can have access to airplanes. I have heard that money is one of the biggest obstacles people face when starting a flying club. Unfortunately, clubs may be over thinking the problem. Why do you need money to start a flying club? The answer is you don’t.

All you need to have in order to start a flying club is a good aviation story to tell. That’s it! More members of flying clubs participate in social events than they do flying. Out of a roster of nearly 80 members, only 20 members actively fly. The rest tell stories, hang out at the airport and enjoy the company. As I write this I am going to add another item to my “What can you fill a tank with” list:

7) Stories

Think about how full the tanks can get with stories! If you have a logbook, you have stories to tell. If you have ever thought about aviation, you have stories to tell. If you have….okay, I’ll shut up. You get the point. Why not find a friend, go to the airport, tell a story and call yourself a Flying Club? You can make your wildest aviation dreams come true and not spend a dime. It really doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. Your club could be the best flying club in the entire world with zero airplanes, zero money, and tons of stories. Heck, you can prove it by even registering:

Who cares if you have empty fuel tanks and piggybanks? It doesn’t mean you should be excluded from aviation.


By |December 7th, 2012|News|0 Comments

Flying Clubs – Maximizing Fun and Value Through A Common Unity

I used to manage a remote sales team. Everyone worked out of his or her house, as did I. It was a relatively new concept back then, and there were questions about the value of such a setup. The employees were hard working and self-reliant. The company got a lot of hours from all of us and we were successful. But I wondered if the value we delivered to the company and customer was maximized? Something was missing. I weighed the pros and cons, and could only come up with one item missing, the community! The office atmosphere was more professional, the “water cooler” conversations insightful, and the camaraderie was supportive and motivating. Lacking those items translated to missed opportunities for personal and professional growth.

The same holds true in all facets in life, but especially in aviation. Even something as simple as what kind of hangar a pilot chooses has implications. The dollar savings of an individual t-hangar over a “community” hangar are significant. But the value lost is also significant. Beyond the value-added services provided to an aircraft owner in a community hangar, there are many opportunities to get more out of aviation that are missed when one chooses the t-hangar route. The chance (water cooler) conversations, the camaraderie, and the support and motivation that come out of those interactions, provide the same value discussed in the office scenario.

A diverse aviation audience is reading this blog. Yet, I know that all of you share the same passion for aviation as every other reader. No explanations; no discussion necessary. It is our common unity. Our Community. And as discussed, being part of the community maximizes the value we receive.

As president of a flying club, I see this on a daily basis. I receive contact from “wayward” souls looking for more out of aviation. They know they are missing something and come to us via email, in person, via phone calls, and through friends. They’ve learned that getting a set of keys at a flight school/FBO only goes so far in satisfying the need to be part of the community. The theme is the same regardless of their ratings or experience. They want to talk about flying, they want to fly with other pilots, and they want to be able to give and receive encouragement and support. Said another way, they want to be an active part of a family. They want to be part of the club.

The statistics support the importance of flying clubs. Members of clubs are more satisfied than non-club participants. They get more out of aviation and also give more back. The flying club provides both an inlet and outlet for the exchange of real value. It’s common to hear that the value of a club is in the dollar savings a member will realize. On the surface, that thought resonates because flying is an expensive endeavor, which is not helped during these tough economic times. But significant value can be realized if we focus on the utility and personal growth provided by our passion. Ultimately each of us defines value in different terms, but maybe it truly does come down to the smile on our face. Maybe the question is not, “how much does it cost to fly, but rather, “how much does it cost not to fly”?

It doesn’t take long to see that flying clubs aren’t just about lower rates or free breakfasts. The true value is in everything from the fun factor, to the creation of strong bonds of community and fellowship, ultimately translating to growth as a human being. It’s not about Go Fly, but rather Let’s Fly. Welcome To The Club!!!

By |November 29th, 2012|News|0 Comments

Are Flight Schools Dead?

Flight Schools Are Dead:

Yup, flight schools are dead. It’s a tired, worn out model of learning how to fly. The flight school is like a payphone. Payphones were once a roaring industry before the advent of cell phones; now you likely have no idea where the closest payphone is. It’s really unfortunate….actually it isn’t at all. Are you sad that payphones are gone? Do you feel bad that you carry an iPhone now instead of making collect calls? I didn’t think so.

When were you last proud of being a graduate of a particular flight school? If you are having trouble thinking of such a moment, I’m not surprised. Most flight schools are like the payphone industry, they haven’t changed from the day they started and they are dropping like flies. Just think about having to wrangle quarters to make a long distance call, YUCK! That is the same feeling of writing a big check to go learn how to fly at a flight school for which you aren’t even proud to be a student or alumni.

People still need to learn how to fly, but where do they go? Well, go to a flying club! That’s one option. It will be a wonderful experience. All of the flying club members will be genuinely excited and interested in your journey toward achieving your aviation dreams. The support network that you have will be as strong as the membership of your club. What kind of support network will you get at a flight school? You’ll definitely be paying for one, but odds are there will not be any.

A lot of the learning at flying clubs comes from social learning. It’s like a bunch of pilots sitting around a campfire telling war stories and reliving a career’s worth of “I Learned About Flying from That” magazine articles. There is so much value in these stories and words of encouragement. Everybody is on the same flying team and is committed to winning by the slaughter rule.

Everybody is an educator at flying clubs. Each club has its “designated” CFI’s but let’s be real here, you learn from everybody. Think about it, you have a club member base that basically consists of all of your teachers for your favorite subject, aviation. Each person in the club has their own talents and things they are really good at to bring from their own outside experiences. This enhances the club, learning experience and delight to a level that cannot be touched by any school.

You don’t even have to be a pilot to learn a ton. It’s okay to pique your curiosity, it won’t really cost anything and you’ll be so much safer. Go ahead, try it!

By |November 27th, 2012|News|0 Comments