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About the Club

  • Why join a flying club?
    Ok, you just filled a lifelong dream of getting your private pilot license. Now, you need a plane to fly. You could always buy one. But aircraft ownership can be expensive – planes aren’t cheap, and there are a lot of operational expenses – hanger rental, aircraft maintenance costs, engine overhaul costs, insurance, etc. You could also rent a plane. But aircraft rental can also be expensive – FBOs and flight schools usually embed business operations costs and flight school overhead into their aircraft rental fees, leading to higher rental fees. So, what if you could co-own an aircraft with several other pilots (that have the same aviation desires as you do), and SHARE the costs of ownership. Hence, the foundation of Flying Clubs - A Flying Club is an organized group of pilots who come together in a cooperative effort to own and fly airplanes. Once you are checked out and signed off on our aircraft, you simply log into the scheduling website, reserve the aircraft for any available timeframe, head to the hanger, grab the plane, and go flying. Our club takes pride in maintaining its aircraft and keeping them as clean as possible, as these are OUR aircraft, not rentals.
  • What type of club is it?
    There are many types of flying clubs – equity, non-equity, mega, etc. We are an equity flying club. In an equity flying club, we “buy-in” to the club, and become an equal stakeholder (i.e. Partner) in the club, and collectively own a share of all assets of the club (i.e. aircraft, hanger, etc.) and share the costs of aircraft ownership. The partners pay both monthly dues, which cover fixed expenses (hanger, insurance, etc.), and an hourly rate for use of the aircraft in the club. The club is also managed by an elected Board of Directors, responsible for managing and enforcing the Club By-Laws, and Club Rules and Regulations.
  • How are aircraft scheduled, and how often are they available?"
    Our club owns 3 aircraft, and are scheduled via a popular online scheduling system ( Availability of the aircraft varies over the year, with the summer and fall months being the busiest. The three aircraft accumulated 807 total flight hours in 2018, and ranged anywhere from 211 to 350 flight hours per year per aircraft. In 2019, the three aircraft accumulated 842 hrs. And in 2020, we accumulated 684 hrs - due to selling of the Cirrus, many months later acquiring the Dakota, and Covid-19.
  • How much does it cost?
    There is an initial buy-in cost for joining the club. This buy-in represents your equity share into the club. This share is saleable upon leaving the club. There is a monthly fee of $140, which covers fixed club expenses. At the end of each month, each partner receives a bill for flight time accumulated in that month. Flight time is based upon “tach” time, and encompasses both the hourly dry rate of the aircraft and fuel charges for fuel used. Fuel rates vary each month, as the price of fuel varies.
  • What is the main purpose of the club – flying, training, social?"
    The goal and philosophy of the Club is to fly great planes inexpensively. That said, we still have all-member meetings, several plane wash events over the year (some of which are required attendance), safety seminar events (some of which are required attendance), and even monthly lunch events.
  • What are the demographics of the current partners?
    In looking at flight hours for 2018, 60% of the partners are active flyers, 32% infrequent flyers, and 8% inactive flyers. In 2019, 58% of the partners were active flyers, 38% infrequent flyers, and 4% inactive flyers. In 2020 (with the transition of planes and Covid), we still had 12 partners fly 20+ hrs per year, and 4 partners with 40+ hrs per year.
  • How is the flight time calculated if I reserve an aircraft for the entire weekend, or for a week trip?"
    As mentioned above, flight time is based upon “tach” time of the engine. In other words, the member is only charged while the plane is flying… not for the time that the aircraft is “reserved”. However, to ensure members do not abuse the scheduling of aircraft, we do maintain a set of rules which ensure fair use of the aircraft. For example, 2 hr per day minimum when aircraft are scheduled for the entire weekend or holidays… Board approval if an aircraft is scheduled for a trip exceeding 14 days… etc.
  • Who does the maintenance on the aircraft?
    Maintenance is performed by club members (for owner allowed maintence, and under supervision by an A&P), and a FAA certified A&P mechanic. This allows us to keep costs down. We have a Maintenance Officer, Plane Captains for each plane, and various maintenance teams specializing in specific maintenance activities. The Club also utilizes many of the proven aircraft service centers around the TwinCities area for specialized maintenance.
  • What does it take to get “checked out” in the aircraft?
    Before a member can use any of our aircraft, he or she must be “checked out” in the aircraft by one of our CFI’s. This encompasses both ground instruction as well as practical flight activities. Additionally, each aircraft has pilot currency requirements to ensure safe flight, as well as meet the requirements of the insurance company.
  • What insurance does the club have?
    Club members are all named-insured by virtue of being equal partners in the Club. This means that the insurance company stands behind each of us in defense and payment of damage claims. Additionally, the insurance company has no right of subrogation against the members for damage recovery. In the event of a claim, the member incurring the damage is responsible for the deductible ($1000).
  • How can I join the Flying club?
    email us or call us at 612-584-1740 for more information, or to join our group.
  • What is the history of the Club?
    Tailwinds Maintenance and Stories of the Early Days. In July of 1974, three guys bought a very nice C172 and turned it into Tailwinds Club. N4680L. That number is still on the green cabinet in the hanger. We were on the south side of 21D, in a T‐hanger with an asphalt floor and a 100 watt light in the center. A non‐powered overhead door with only one cable support and a 400 lb counterweight. More than once the cable broke. The counterweight would make a very loud thud when it hit the floor but the door was slowed just by the air it had moved as it closed. No plane or person was ever in the way. Irv Renner joined the club in November 1974. He and I did all the annuals up until three years ago; a total of 44 years. In October of that year, we bought a second 172. N1701— we called it the Starship. You Star Trek fans will note the number. It has a 215 hp Franklin engine. I say it has because it’s in a hanger across from my airplane. The owner flies it every month or two and does a nice job with improvements. It was maybe 10kt faster than 145 hp but the 172 could sure get off the ground quickly. I won a spot landing contest with 1701. 50 de flaps and lots of power I had an unfair advantage. In 1977 we purchased a Beech Musketeer in Fort Meyers, Fl. A friend and I flew down commercial and brought it back with a stop at Disney World. When we got to Fort Meyers, the club had already paid for the plane. There were 8 or 10 rivets missing from the elevator because of salt corrosion (still flyable) and the seller said the mic relay would stick, but he showed me how to kick the relay with my left foot to unstick it. A very nice plane, with lots of room and you sit up nicely. A little slow for the HP. Overall, a good trip back (only a few kicks necessary). Next, we purchased a Piper Tomahawk in March of that same year. Very nice two‐seater with a single nav/com and transponder. People did fly it IFR. It was legal to spin and I did until someone said look at the T tail in a spin. It would move about a lot so no spins after that for me. June 1983, 4100Q came to us. 760 hours on the tack. Brand new by today’s standards. Now 37 years later and 13,400 hours it keeps moving on. When I got my pilot from the FBO on the field, June 1967 (54 years ago), they were a Cessna dealer, every Spring he would get 5 or 6 new 150s, 2 or 3 172s and maybe a 182 or 2. I do remember getting in to a C150 40 hours on to total time. He also was Bellanca Viking dealer. I don’t remember the date but a pilot started a Viking in a hanger (winter time) and it caught fire and burnt up 4 brand new Bellanca Vikings. In 1988 we built our hanger. Irv and I were still doing annuals in the winter with no heat and mostly at night after work. We were young and dumb. Three years later Irv and I installed the heater over the Six. No ceiling or insulation in the hanger but we thought it was wonderful. In June of 1985 we purchased a non‐turbo Arrow. Everybody loved this plane and some of us still do. For a short time, we also had a Piper Warrior that was somewhat unloved. I liked it but I like all planes. February of 1992, we purchased a Beech Sierra. Comfortable and roomy and known as one of the slowest retractables that you can buy. Another plane that was somewhat unloved. But I loved it. The last Tailwinds flight I flew was to Cleveland for the new owner. It lives in Nome, Alaska now? The next plane was the Cherokee Six in June 1994. We flew to the middle to Missouri (with my newly minted Twin rating in a rented Twin Comanche) to meet the owner who came from Texas to meet us halfway. We said we would buy it. He said “Here are the keys, take it home and send us a check.” Those were the very good old days. And yes, we did send them a check. The following Friday at 7:00pm I’m in my recliner and Mark W called, “I’m at Meigs Field in downtown Chicago (before Mayor Daley sent his bulldozers on into tear up the runway) with three people and a helicopter blew the door off the C210 that I’m flying. Can you come and get us?” Sure, who needs a checkout in any Cherokee? Lake Elmo ‐ Meigs Field and then 45 minutes south to pick up another stranded person and home. Home at 4:00am, very tired with a bad headache. Is this what it's like being a Charter Pilot? I’ve had the Six from a 1050 miles north in Canada to Key West and from Boston to San Diego. I really like that plane. In April of 1999 we purchased a Piper Turbo Arrow with A/C. A lot of people said to never have a turbo in a flying club. The turbo never added much to the maintenance but the A/C did. That was another much loved plane. We sold that so we could go looking for a Cirrus. We learned that someone in Brazil bought the Arrow and the owner’s son is coming to Lake Elmo to fly home. A business jet pilot, he way overloaded the Arrow. I asked if I could take one of his passengers and some of the luggage to New Richmond so he could have a longer runway. He said it would be OK and it was but not by much. A few minutes later he came back and circled around the airport for 15 minutes. Finally I watch the gear retracted and he was on his way. I think it took that long to find the latch to retract the gear at lower speed. The plane had Piper auto gear extend, The Arrow a runout engine and he was on his way to Brazil. We found out that it sat in Atlanta for five weeks. Maybe a new engine? We also got a report that he safely arrived home, 56 hours later. There was a rumor about that it was coming back to the US. November 2011 we purchased the Cirrus. The people that flew it liked it (me too); the others that helped pay for it not so much, but the per‐hour cost was not out of line. Another memory of the Cirrus; 5:00pm and again in my recliner, the phone rings. Cirrus with a flat tire at New Richmond, help. It’s 25 degrees out. I’ll come if you find a hanger. They did and I got my tools, a tire and tube, drove there and fixed it. Never again. [...] Neil
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