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I'm currently a University student in the United States, and finishing my PPL within the next two weeks (assuming I pass my checkride!)

Unfortunately, when I return to University for the Fall semester, there are zero flying resources. No local clubs, or anything of that nature. I am told by many of the pilots around my out of state flight school about their student flying clubs back in college, and it sounds amazing.

My University encourages students to start clubs, offering a maximum funding of $10,000 - $50,000. I presume because clubs increase the schools admission, it is worth the money for them? Being a large engineering school, I could see it being a selling point in tours.

My question is in three parts.

  1. What are the implications of starting a student Flight/Aviators Club, and what benefits could it provide, outside of meeting new aviation friends? (Implications referring to expected safety precautions a school might want to impose, any FAA regulations pertinent to a club, and associations/partnerships we could create to show legitimacy to the school)

  2. What would be a good way to find pilots within the University? (I'm sure out of 30,000 students there are some)

  3. Would this be percieved by the general aviation community as "not my place" to start a student flying club, as I am a new pilot?

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  • $\begingroup$ By "flying club" do you mean actually owning an airplane, or just a group of people interested in aviation? $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 13 '17 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Group of people, flying common destinations, etc. $\endgroup$ – WillSimon Jul 13 '17 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ If you aren't owning an airplane, then the "implications" are few. Just do it. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 13 '17 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ Not exactly the answer I was looking for :) Implications could concievably include rental agreements with local rental agencies, as well as safety requirements that may be required by an institution. $\endgroup$ – WillSimon Jul 13 '17 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ The first rule of Flight Club is: "You don't talk about Flight Club", right? $\endgroup$ – abelenky Jul 13 '17 at 14:59
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What are the implications of starting a student Flight/Aviators Club, and what benefits could it provide, outside of meeting new aviation friends? (Implications referring to expected safety precautions a school might want to impose, any FAA regulations pertinent to a club, and associations/partnerships we could create to show legitimacy to the school)

I was in college not all that long ago and I can speak to this a bit as I was involved in some clubs that built cars (Formula SAE) while not the same I see a lot of parallels. Generally speaking, and this is very university dependent but I have seen it apply across the board, if a school puts money towards a club the club must abide by the school's rules but more importantly it typically falls under their insurance policy. For something like a poetry club there is not that much risk, but when we were racing cars the university would inspect them all the time and there always had to be a faculty member present when we were running tests. We were lucky in that we had good faculty backing which is key, my advice here is to first find a professor (you are generally going to need an advisor anyway) that flies and get them excited about it and onboard as this will go a long way to help your case.

What gets tricky here is you flying on the university's dime. If you are not looking to buy a plane and you simply want to use the funds for rental that is an interesting predicament. An aviation lawyer may be able to answer better for you, but you need to confirm what the deal is with using club/org/university funding to rent and fly planes. Technically you are not getting compensated to fly but you are also not paying to fly while someone is paying for the aircraft (you are in turn paying 0 which is below your pro-rata share). If the students are splitting the rental costs, renting from a local FBO and are all checked out in the airframe you don't really need to even get the university involved.

There are universities like Embry-Riddle that are very aviation focused and offer training as a part of the curriculum so there are places that do it.

Getting a local flight school or FBO involved may help if you have a place to rent planes from and can guarantee business they may offer a small price break.

I would reach out to the National Intercollegiate Flying Association and see if they can offer any advice or help.

What would be a good way to find pilots within the University? (I'm sure out of 30,000 students there are some)

The airmen registry here in the US is public, you could always run it up against your school directory... I would ask around, post fliers etc. keep in mind that flying is not the cheapest hobby and college kids tend to not be all that cash liquid... I sure couldn't start flying until I had my first job.

Would this be percieved by the general aviation community as "not my place" to start a student flying club, as I am a new pilot?

IMO pilots are very receptive of other pilots. Old pilots love to inspire young pilots and you will most likely find a lot of support from them. GA awareness is never a bad thing either!

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  1. What are the implications of starting a student Flight/Aviators Club, and what benefits could it provide, outside of meeting new aviation friends? (Implications referring to expected safety precautions a school might want to impose, any FAA regulations pertinent to a club, and associations/partnerships we could create to show legitimacy to the school)

There really aren't any implications to starting a club. The FAA does not regulate clubs as long as you abide by the FAR's, especially with regards to cost sharing (which isn't as simple as the FAR makes it sound). As far as safety precautions the school would like, that is entirely up to the school administration, and you'll have to discuss it with them. It may be nothing, or it may be a non-starter, it depends.

You could also start a local EAA chapter, or host a WINGS event for currency training. There are also IFR clubs and you can work with a local flight school to offer things like ground courses. It is difficult to say what deals you can work out until you pick up the phone and do it. As far as legitimacy to your school, that is also specific to your institution and when you approach administration with your club idea they will set the terms.

  1. What would be a good way to find pilots within the University? (I'm sure out of 30,000 students there are some)

The easiest way is probably to post fliers around the school in common areas. Don't limit yourself to licensed (or soon to be licensed) pilots though, invite anybody with an interest in aviation (or even drones/unmanned aircraft, which may be a bigger market at an engineering school). You can do a search on the FAA site for pilots, but it is a one-by-one search and going through your school roster would be a full time job for quite some time...

  1. Would this be perceived by the general aviation community as "not my place" to start a student flying club, as I am a new pilot?

Absolutely not. When you spend more time around experienced pilots you will find that most are very welcoming to new pilots and are very much encouraged to do things like start clubs and attend meetings.

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  • $\begingroup$ In regards to #2, what would be the purpose for non-pilot members? - as in, what could be offered to them. Being in a flight club without flying seems like a tease, but it would be great to somehow include potential pilots. $\endgroup$ – WillSimon Jul 13 '17 at 14:51
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    $\begingroup$ Believe it or not, there are quite a few members here, with high reputation, that are not pilots. Just because somebody isn't a pilot doesn't mean that they can't be interested in it. I'm assuming that a majority of your club actions will simply be meet-ups, tours of control towers or other ATC facilities, training, etc rather than actual flying. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 13 '17 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ For my terms of a Flight Club, the primary purpose would be flight $\endgroup$ – WillSimon Jul 13 '17 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ You are severely limiting your potential as a club then. Even full clubs do much more than just fly. I'm guessing that even though there are 30K-ish students, there may be 3-5 pilots... $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 13 '17 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ @WillSimon You don't seem to know what you want to promote, to be honest. From my perspective, a general interest in aviation over many years is what led me into my PPL. I'd have definitely joined such a club, probably with the intention of training - but also to just meet likeminded people, attend airshows, events, ground school, engineering discussions, talks etc. I can imagine lots of people would be interested in a presentation from, say, a military pilot or an air traffic controller regardless of license $\endgroup$ – Dan Jul 13 '17 at 15:49

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