How to Be a Great Club Member
The wing wheel at the <Name Redacted> soaring club had been flat for quite some time. Members literally kept using it until it fell off the rim, then bending the rim and causing damage to the structure of the wing wheel. The one person in the club who takes care of most of the ancillary maintenance for the club was understandably furious. If people had taken the time to air up the tire in the first place, they would have avoided many, many dollars and many, many labor hours in repair. This article is about how to be a better member of your local club, and help to carry soaring on for many, many years.
Get out and Travel!
I have been an active member of four outstanding clubs over my life. I started in the Central Indiana Soaring Society, Albuquerque Soaring club, Soaring Society of Boulder, and finally Black Forrest Soaring Society. Each one allowed me to watch trends, observe the elements of human behavior, and see what worked and what didn’t. Step one to improving yourself as a club member is to get out and see some of the awesome clubs around you. Go fly with them, stay for a weekend, and watch how they do things. Some of the outstanding clubs that I have personally observed are Caesar Creek Soaring Club in Ohio, Texas Soaring Association in the DFW area, Kansas Soaring Association in…Well, Kansas. (Yoder, Kansas just south of Hutchison to be exact. Watch out for Amish on their horse and buggies), and Soaring Club of Houston. I would highly encourage a visit to any of the above-mentioned clubs if you are out and about. You won’t regret it!
Fix the Little Things
Another thing you can do is to either fix problems no matter how small when you see them. From picking up a piece of trash to airing up a tire, a little bit of help goes a long way. Look around your local club. Any given club has maybe 2-4 people who do a majority of the physical leg work around the place. Anything you can take off of their plate prevents these people from getting burnt out and helps immensely. From sweeping the hangar to changing tires to ordering more supplies (From Wings and Wheels of course), anything helps. I try to make a point of dedicating at least a day a year to going out to my club, wandering around, and doing things that I see need to be done. If everyone just did this little extra on top of normal club duties, it would help immensely.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
For the ultimate sacrifice, volunteer to be on your club's board for at least a year. You will get to see “Behind the curtain” and know how the sausage is made that keeps your club running. It might not be pretty, it might not be the most glamorous job in the world, but it is necessary, and I promise, you will learn a lot. Barring that, try to always be on a committee of some sort. Most clubs have these, and they provide important input into how the club is run. It will be a couple of years of a lot of extra work that you put into the club, but this is how clubs grow and prosper. Clubs do not do well when their board membership sees little or no movement, and no new blood for many years, no matter how good those people are at their job. Fresh faces and new ideas are a must.
The Best Thing You Can do
By far, the most selfless thing a club member can do is to push through to getting their CFI-G rating. This is one thing that I personally have not done yet, but I have a lot of respect for the people who do. This is the ultimate sacrifice to the club in my view. Sitting in the back of a trainer on a beautiful soaring day, and making sure there are pilots for the future. Without these folks, soaring would quickly die as a sport. Look at your current CFI-G’s. Many of them won’t be around for much longer. What will your club look like even ten years down the road when these guys and gals can no longer fly? It’s a scary prospect, and in my opinion, the rating that commands the most respect of any aviator. Take the plunge and go do it! I know I should…
See ya ‘Round the Clubhouse!
In short, following the three simple steps I have outlined will make you a productive club member, and a valuable asset. Remember, without you, clubs would not be in existence and the sport we love would quickly die. Soaring is a unique activity in aviation in that it takes many people to run. You can be that helper who keeps your club going for another 10-20 years!
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Here's an article from r.a.s. that is worth sharing here, in the hope that a few more handds will lighten the work a little for the stalwarts who carry so much of the load: