Pilots and new prospective student pilots apply for membership with the club by meeting with the club manager and completing the Membership Application. All prospective members must have read the Rules of Operation to understand our policies and procedures. New TSA security measures require a passport or birth certificate as well as a student medical to start flight training. Provisional membership is presented and voted on by the board with recommendations from the chief instructor. After 3 months, a provisional member comes up for a permanent membership vote, again with input from anyone who has something to say about the member. Basically though, if you pay your bills and exhibit a positive attitude toward safety, you are normally accepted. We currently have 250+ members (about 60 active at any one time).
Every pilot joining is required to fly a minimum three hour check-out to club standards both initially and annually. This can be customized and combined but involves a minimum of an hour each of maneuvering, instrument and pattern work. We make no apologies about taking safety very seriously. Remember, we pay full insurance to million dollars (smooth...no sub-limits) on every member...we don't want to use it!
Joining East Hill requires $400 for initiation. This gets you started as a provisional member and you are then a part-owner of our planes and fully covered by our insurance (you will not have to buy renter's insurance). For student pilots there is an additional investment of $240 for the student pilot ground school. We use the highly acclaimed Jeppesen Guided Flight Discovery system...quite a pile of books! Acquiring ancient books on e-bay is highly discouraged since the material changes every six months and the money we save on the kits is important to administering the program. We also sell pilot supplies (e.g. books and headsets) at cost.
We require a $700 refundable deposit for every new member. If absolutely necessary, members can pay the deposit $100 down initially and $50 in monthly increments until a total of $700 is accrued. While on this "pay-go" status, members must pay immediately for every flight or the member is grounded. For members actively using their membership in the club, a $50 monthly dues is assessed. This covers part of the ongoing maintenance of our facility and our two hangars (yup, we pay taxes too!). With prior written notice a member may become inactive for any period of time with no monthly charge, but a $45 reactivation fee is charged when you start flying again.
Members are billed monthly bu e-mail for all accrued financial obligations; flying, dues and materials. This total amount is due at the end of the following month or the member is "grounded" and all club privileges are revoked. Unfortunately, overdue accounts cost the club and hurt every member that shares our resources so we assess a finance charge on overdue accounts. (We also considered requiring a shirt with a big red "G" on it but we backed off on that.) We encourage the use of Automatic Check Handling to pay bills and avoid 3% charge for credit cards.
Our FAA Part 141 Approval is based on the Jeppesen Guided Discovery Ground School that is integrated closely with the flight training through the continual use of a course syllabus. Preceding every flight lesson is a required ground lesson. This is available either as an on-line course or in the traditional DVD, textbook and workbook combination ground session. The idea here is to be comprehensively prepared for the airplane experience before it happens (save money by being prepared). Airplane time is expensive and the distractions aloft make airplanes terrible classrooms! If you have read about it and experienced it on DVD beforehand it all makes much more sense. There are 26 total flight lessons and for every hour in the plane there are approximately three hours of ground study. Proper preparation insures that your time in the airplane will be very efficient and cost effective.
Planes are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis with our internet reservation system. Every member has a unique login and four reservation slots. Members who are pilots training for advanced ratings get 6 reservations; two for fun and four for training.
Much like driving qualification, there is a knowledge test and a practical test. The club is a PSI Testing Center and provides all pilot knowledge tests. Our chief instructor is an FAA Pilot Examiner and can administer the flight test at the school.
Provisional members are limited to cross country flights of less than 3 days. Full members have unlimited aircraft use for cross countries, although we do reserve the right to impose a 1 hour per weekday and 2 per weekend charge for long sign-outs (i.e., if the plane is not flown an average of 1 hour per day or 2 hours per Saturday and Sunday, the member will be billed as if he or she did fly for those hours). All costs for fuel and oil incurred for the flight away from home are reimbursed at our club costs (we charge back per gallon). Members are responsible for all customs, landing, parking fees.
Planes are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. There are some restrictions on reserving the trainers, since we want them available for students. There is a maximum of 4 reservations that can be made, and they are not allowed to be taken overnight. However, both of these rules can be waived with proper approval (e.g., students trying for the long cross country flight often are allowed to block out more than four tries, and if a trainer is available at the last minute with no reservations the next day, it is often allowed to be taken overnight). We have three identical Skyhawks for trips but require one to be available at the club at all times for lessons. (Think how you would feel as a student with all the planes gone!)
We now have an electronic reservation and dispatch system, so you can make reservations and check plane and instructor availability through the web. Every member dispatching a plane for flight is personally responsible (remember PIC?) to insure that all maintenance inspections are current and the plane is airworthy for flight! We do superb maintenance, but you are "pilot in command!"
First-come, first served. That said, pilots do often cancel trips. So, members are free to sign up as #2 in a slot, in case the #1 pilot does not make the trip. And sometimes if a VFR pilot is #1 for a plane, the weather may scrub the trip, but an IFR pilot signed up as #2 could go. Also, we ARE a club and we try to maintain a friendly atmosphere. If someone is planning a trip for a couple days and someone else has the plane for a single hour during that period, it's often possible to get the pilot to switch that hour to a different plane, or even a different time. Most members are willing to help each other out and try to accommodate each other. This is especially true with checkrides and students training for checkrides -- we try to give them priority, as most of us remember when we were in the same spot.
Yes. As a matter of fact, we have members that have done just that (summer trips, honeymoons, etc.). In order to reserve a plane for that long of a time, especially in the summer, the reservation must be made ahead of time. And it's usually best to clear very long reservations with the club manager first, since he might know of any planned maintenance (to that plane or others) or other issues that might impact a reservation. Additionally, provisional members are limited to single overnight reservations until becoming full members. This rule prevents someone from joining merely to "rent the plane" and fly to Oshkosh for instance.
We have an annual checkout (minimum three hours) that mirrors the biannual review to rent club aircraft. A flight must be done in each type to qualify. The chief instructor has the final say in terms of proficiency, but every instructor is qualified to fly and approve members annually. Initial checkout in the Mooney is a 10 hour checkout, plus a 100 hour total time minimum experience requirement. The Citabria (tailwheel) requires a minimum 10 hour check-out and endorsement and currency every 45 days. These minimums can be waived by the chief instructor (only) based on previous experience.
We have about 250 members who run the range from student pilots to multi-engine ATPs. There are people from all walks of life and from all ages, from young teens to their 80s. Another benefit of the club is that the members ARE people in the local community, with varied interests. Some fly home-builts, some fly jets, some fly for fun, some for money, some for convenience, and many other reasons. The common thread is the love of flying. Club events are great "mixers" and build our sense of community and camaraderie. Members are expected to serve at our twice annual pancake breakfasts. Additionally, all members will receive (buy) 4 tickets for every breakfast. We hope you give or sell these to friends who are interested in aviation.
Winter months are often our lull time due to weather and summer is our peak time. That said, there is plenty of flying that's done in the winter. We do training all year round, in all types of weather (broadly speaking -- obviously, we don't do thunderstorm training, ice training, or advanced hurricane discovery flights). For instruction, sometimes reservations need to be made a couple weeks in advance, especially if the student only has certain times available. However, students can schedule up to 4 lessons ahead of time, so after each lesson, the student can schedule another lesson and keep their "pipeline" full. Planes are usually available, although for popular times (e.g., Memorial Day, 4th of July) they do get booked up a few months in advance for trips.
The club emphasis has always been focused around flight training. Our number one concern and goal is safe flying and anything less is not tolerated. We also like to promote mentorship and the social aspect of flying that you won't find at FBOs and smaller clubs. We have numerous social activities and club trips planned throughout the year. We have a partnership with a local community college for an aviation degree program and now provide a twin on occasion for advanced training. The club is always open to ideas for new adventures and experiences...contact a member of the board or the chief instructor with your ideas!