Photo by club member Nate Haslam
Frequently Asked Questions
Q - What kind of organization is the Sopwith Camel Flying Club?
A - We are a 501 (C)(7) non-profit social club. Our members collectively own our aircraft, and the hourly rate they pay to fly goes towards maintenance and upgrades. We have no paid staff.
Q - How available are your aircraft?
A - According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the average plane in a club flies less than 10 percent of the time that it could. "In fact, even the most active aircraft in a flying club spend much of their time on the ground," it says. "This should ease the minds of pilots who have never belonged to a club and are concerned about being able to fly whenever they want."
Our club is no exception. Some days, our planes fly a lot. Other days, more than one won't fly at all. If you book your flights a few days in advance, scheduling usually won't be an issue.
Q - What does your current membership look like?
A - We have about 60 members. Approximately a third are professional pilots or used to be, a third are student pilots, and a third are rated pilots with jobs outside of the aviation industry.
We have members who are airline captains, machinists, small-business owners, computer programers, CEO's, truck drivers, doctors, college professors, ski patrollers, engineers, teachers, retired members of the military, real-estate agents, students, law-enforcement officers, housewives, air-traffic controllers, fire fighters, aircraft mechanics, contractors, etc.
Q - Are you a flight school?
A - No. However, our members who are not yet rated pilots can learn to fly and get advanced ratings in club aircraft. About ten certified flight instructors currently give instruction, perform check rides, and give biannual flight reviews to our members.
Q - How are your planes maintained?
A - When we discover maintenance issues, we get them fixed as quickly as possible. Our mechanic changes the oil and inspects our aircraft every 50 hours. He has a reputation for finding things other mechanics miss, and we like that.
Q - What non-flying activities does the club offer?
A - We have socials, movie nights, aircraft cleaning parties, and membership meetings. We also take aviation-related tours, attend air shows, and fly to cool places together. We are a social club, and all members are expected to be involved and give back. If you only want to fly, we are not the club for you and recommend that you buy your own plane, rent, or join a partnership.
Q - What will your next airplane be?
A - Most likely, another Cessna or Grumman similar to what we already have.
Q - When will you buy it?
A - When we find the right plane for the right price. We hope that happens soon.
Q - Why do you fly Cessnas and Grummans?
A - Cessnas are the world's most popular single-engine aircraft. We own them because they're stable, reliable, and easy to fly. Our Grumman Tiger is a great low-wing alternative that's quick and sporty. It's as fast as our Cessna 182 but costs less to operate.