Good morning, fellow pilots –
It is good to have this discussion about the nature of our club. I do have a longer view of Sky Soaring than most and I realize that we as a group have changed. I offer my thoughts not contending we should go back to the good old days, but hoping the perspective will tune today’s decisions.
At one time we held club meetings in the front room of the hanger. We have outgrown that. In the pre-internet days it was just taken for granted that members would show up on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. No commitment needed and if the necessary personnel were there we went flying. Almost always there was. We were not very business-like. We were just a group of flying buddies enjoying a mutual adventure.
For the first 25 years of our existence no one was paid for any service. We pitched in with no expectation of remuneration. When we found we were short of tow pilots that could fly with a tailwheel, we began offering a token credit for doing tows. Even as we began doing that, many of the tow pilots were commercial pilots whose employers frowned on them working an outside flying job so they refused the credit, but still towed.
Instructors, too, volunteered their time and talent. I don’t recall when we started giving a credit for instructors, but for a time that expense was not passed along to the student.
I suspect that both tow pilots and instructors at Sky Soaring would be volunteering even if they did not receive a dues credit.
As for the assessment, I fear a one-time assessment could become a way of life. I was in a small flying club at one time and when we wanted a new radio, we all pitched in. That is different from using the assessment for a predictable expense such as an overhaul.
I don’t know how the board is handling it at the moment, but during my time as president we stashed away some from each tow toward maintenance of the tow plane. Is that done now? I don’t know. Maybe is should be.
I also like Aaron’s comment about not having Sky Soaring assets become too great. The dangers he mentions are real. We need to have a sufficient fund to keep our club afloat and even improve our situation, but excess is likely unwise.
I would suggest that if we set aside some from each tow fee in 2021 we would be on our way to addressing the coming overhaul. I expect many member would, as they have in the past, step forward to provide a loan to cover the remaining expense. I know from personal experience that Sky Soaring is good for it.
Just one thought from a patron member.