For most people the idea of flying may seem like a dream or an unattainable goal. You may be shocked to hear that there are many general aviation enthusiasts that once felt the same way and are now private pilots thanks to flying clubs around the country. These pilots have been able to share the joy of personal aviation with friends and family, traveling to far-away places in much less time and with far fewer headaches than other modes of transportation.
For some pilots, it’s more about the fun than the practicality. Flying is one of the most challenging activities you’ll ever experience, and that’s what makes it so rewarding. Thousands of pilots worldwide have found an outlet for their passion for flight through a local flying club similar to throne located in our own backyard in Flint, Michigan. The Greater Flint Pilots Association was incorporated 40 years again 1975 at the Flint Bishop International Airport by a few pilot friends and a small collection of single engine aircraft. In less than a decade, membership blossomed to 140 and the fleet had grown to 9 planes. Over the years, the club has moved from outdoor tie-downs on the ramp near early control towers and passenger terminals to several other facilities within the secure Air Operations Area. At present, GFPA’s 4-plane fleet is housed in modern hangers owned by the Bishop International Airport Authority and located near the southeast corner of the airport north of the intersection of Torrey and Hill Roads.
GFPA is an organization where all members own an equal share of a fleet of aircraft, making it accessible to a wider audience for which owning and maintaining alpine would be overwhelming. Today, as a modern, progressive and professional corporation, GFPA is dedicated to the safety and advancement of aviation. As privately owned not-for-profit flying club, its first concern is the safety and quality of the fleet. All of its planes are hangared at Bishop International (KFNT) in Flint, Michigan. Each plane has an IFR certified GPS making navigation much easier. Eric Johnson, president of GFPA, won’t deny that flying is an expensive hobby.“Flying has taken a hit because of the economy,” Johnson says. “Shared ownerships the least expensive way to learn to fly and then continue enjoying the hobby once a flight certificate has been earned”. With instruction available in club aircraft from FAA certified club instructors, students can learn to fly and even upgrade to complex aircraft, instrument flight and commercial ratings at nominal cost. When you begin flying lessons, you continue to learn new skills and hone them with each flight. Once you have developed the piloting skills and knowledge required to fly alone, your flight instructor will send you off for your first solo flight. This exciting occasion is your first opportunity to “challenge your skills” by using what you’ve learned to fly the plane as pilot in command. Even after earning your pilot certificate, you will continue to fly with flight instructors so you can maintain your skills and stay proficient. You may even choose to work toward additional ratings or certificates. Many pilots choose to add an instrument rating so they can fly in poor-visibility weather. The training for that rating will make you a more proficient pilot and will also help to increase your confidence. Students first starting lessons in their teens have gone on to specialty college and university programs and from there to careers in commercial or military aviation. Memberships are available. For additional information, visit the Greater Flint Pilots Association web site at www.gfpa.org