Message from the SSI Board to Instructors and Tow Pilots

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      John DeRosaJohn DeRosa

        Message from the SSI Board to Instructors and Tow Pilots


        Sky Soaring Glider Instructors and Tow Pilots,


        Of all activities in and around aviation the most volunteer centric of all must be the sport of soaring.  Without volunteers glider clubs would be unable to function.   Instructors and tow pilots are the most visible volunteers and are held in high esteem.  But without every volunteer within our soaring club it would ultimately cease to be.


        The SSI Board is gravely concerned about the ongoing financial strain the Club has faced for many years, primarily due to servicing the Field Note debt.  The Board is working towards providing a stronger financial foundation for the Club.  In the next 10-12 months Sky Soaring will have two major expenses to overcome, the tow plane engine overhaul and the share buy-back program.  This year’s budget is literally a “break-even” plan with no extra funds for unexpected maintenance or other unanticipated expenses. There is not funding for a much-needed work on the field layout, hanger paint job, fleet upgrades, etc, etc.  We believe that actions taken this year will improve the Club’s financial condition and UPGRADE SKY SOARING!


        UPGRADE SKY SOARING???  YES!  Let’s face facts, and there is no easy way to say this, Sky Soaring’s fleet of gliders is in poor condition and are out dated.  Both Chicago Glider Club (CGC) and Windy City Soaring Association (WCSA) have more modern fleets.  Both clubs have a “stepping stone” of gliders from medium performance to high.  CGC last year purchased a new Schleicher ASK-21B direct from Germany.   Both clubs have two tow planes.  Neither club uses the aging Schweizer 2-33 as an instruction glider.


        Sky Soaring has only stayed relevant by the virtues of its more convenient location and our willingness to concentrate on zero or low time pilots.  We need to improve our cash flow.  We need to be forward looking not backward leaning.  We need to make improvements and not remaining static.  We need to regain our preeminence here in Chicago.   SKY SOARING NEEDS TO GET BETTER OR IT MAY CEASE TO EXIST.  And what a loss to us that would be.


        As said before Instructors and tow pilots are the most visible volunteers of the club.  Every pilot uses their services and every member directly sees their efforts.   That being said behind every instructor and every tow pilot there are a myriad of key people that volunteer their time, their labor, and their financial resources by dues and outright donations (of every size) to support the club in ways which are mostly invisible to the membership.  Every Sky Soaring volunteer group is EQUALLY AND CRITICALLY important to the functioning of Sky Soaring but only two groups of volunteers are compensated for their work.  This seems inherently unfair and denigrates the value of the other volunteers.


        To help the Sky Soaring Board understand how other clubs work with their instructors and tow pilots the board has reached out to thirteen (13) non-commercial chapters (clubs) here in the Midwest.  We received responses from eight (8) clubs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.  Here are the results;


        Instructors – Only Sky Soaring compensates their instructors dues.   Five (5) do not compensate their instructors at all – importantly this includes both of our Chicago-area sister glider clubs; Chicago Glider Club and Windy City Soaring Association.  The remaining two (2) clubs have policies in which members pay their instructors directly.


        Tow Pilots – Only Sky Soaring compensates their tow pilots.  The other seven (7) clubs have no tow pilot compensation of any type.


        The dues offset change is both a financial issue and a fairness issue.  Under the new program the dues credits are <u>not</u> disappearing.  They are migrating next year to a middle ground of allowing offsets up to 50% of club dues.  For those that previously offset 100% of their dues the maximum impact is $308 starting in 2022.  This is an effort for everyone to pay their fair share, to “level the playing field” and, most importantly, to better utilize our financial resources to UPGRADE SKY SOARING!


        YES!  UPGRADE SKY  SOARING!!!  Let’s work to pave the way for Sky Soaring’s reemergence as Chicago’s true “PREMIER GLIDER CLUB”!



        John DeRosa – President

        John Osborn – Vice President

        Don Grillo – Flight Chairman

        Steve Snyder – Treasurer

        John Lincoln – Maintenance Chairman

        Jim Hopkins – Secretary


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