Flying club looks to inspire the next generations of aviation enthusiasts

By 
Katherine Sears
Reporter
Thursday, December 24, 2020
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Joel DeVries, left, and Tanner Collins stand inside the Lewistown Municipal Airport hangar after discussing the current state of the Lewistown Flying Club, which they are working to reestablish.
Photo by Katherine Sears

“Everyone dreams of wanting to fly,” said Tanner Collins, who is heading an effort to reestablish the Lewistown Flying Club.
The club previously operated from 1960 to 1982 until fuel prices played a role in disbanding the organization. Locals interested in aviation recently began researching flying clubs and how they could revive one to help others learn to fly or further their aviation licensing right in Lewistown.   
Collins said they have incorporated the club as a non-profit, member-only social organization that will be able to provide a plane more affordably due to the shared cost from members. Members will be able to hire their own instructors and train in the club aircraft.
“The goal is to inspire the next generation of aviation enthusiasts,” said Collins. “Members will be able to see when instructors are available and schedule time with them.”

“We want to provide an opportunity for people to fly and Lewistown has a great airport,” said Joel DeVries, who is looking to earn his pilot’s license locally.
DeVries and Collins said they were also motivated to reestablish the club when they found it difficult to find instructors for themselves, or a plane to use.
“We asked around a lot and got a lot of ‘I can teach you, but I don’t have a plane,’” said DeVries.
Although all the details haven’t been completely ironed out yet, the club has a good lead on a couple of pilots willing to instruct, and a few possible options for acquiring a plane. Collins said the club will work to purchase its own aircraft, lease a plane from a local pilot, or work out a lease-to-own deal with an aircraft owner.
“A lot of flying clubs are actually able to offset the cost of ownership for plane owners by leasing from them,” said Collins.
The club currently has a fundraiser set up online to raise enough money to guarantee one year of lease payments, hangar cost, and insurance.
“Our goal is to make this opportunity as affordable as possible, so we are hoping to fundraise in order to offset some of the initial expenses,” Collins stated on the fundraising page.  
The club will also be offering a free 10-week ground school virtually, and will conduct one round table session per week to answer questions for potential aviators, beginning in February.
“This is for anyone interested in flying to see if it’s something they would like to pursue,” said Collins.
The fundraising site states the club plans to charge a one-time membership fee, a monthly fee, and an approximate $75 per tach hour fee. Tach hours are the actual hours put on the aircraft’s engine.
In addition to the cost benefits of joining a flying club, Collins said it is also a social benefit.
“It’s a social thing too,” said Collins, “The camaraderie and sharing knowledge between pilots allows us to maintain proficiency and keep it safe.”
Collins trained to be a commercial pilot and is looking to further his licensing through the club.
“Most members are new to flying, but a couple of us are rusty pilots,” said Collins. “I’m a rusty pilot. But I think a lot of the guys just want to learn to fly to be able to go out into the backcountry.”
DeVries identifies as one of the new guys.
“I wanted to fly for a long time, and was looking for an opportunity to learn,” said DeVries.
For more information about the Lewistown Flying Club, the virtual ground school, or to donate, visit lewistownflyingclub.com.

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