If it were not for flying clubs there would be no Sporty's

My first encounter with a flying club was in the summer of 1957 while working for Sikorsky Aircraft in Bridgeport, Connecticut. My boss was learning to fly with the Sikorsky Flying Club and I told him I really wanted to be a pilot but my right eye, which was about 20/400, prevented me from achieving my dream. He knew of a waiver process so when I returned to Purdue University I saw a flight surgeon for my medical and, not to my surprise, he told me there was no way the FAA would approve me to fly. I convinced him to go forward with the process and the rest is history. I received a third-class medical good for student privileges only.

Hal Shevers in front of flight schoolMy second exposure to flying clubs obviously was the Purdue Flying Club. Now eat your heart out because I was able to rent a J-3 for $2.50 an hour and a PA-12 Super Cruiser for $3.50 an hour. I took my flight test on my 40th hour and the total price of the private license, including the blue book, was just $215! But don’t forget, that was the fall of 1957.

In January 1958 I started a job with the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company in a sales training program. Shortly after that I bought a PA-12 with two other guys and then I bought a beautiful Cessna 170 with one other person. While these don’t constitute a flying club, it was obviously a partnership.

About four years later, I got this wild idea to start a pilot shop. Needing capital, I sold my one-third interest in a Piper Comanche (I think it was around $3,000) in order to capitalize this new venture. During this process I supplemented my income by flight instructing for AOPA and eventually becoming Course Director for the instrument refresher course. I was a member of the T-Bird Flying Club which had five aircraft, the fastest being a Piper Comanche and the second fastest a Cessna 182. In 1963, we invented the 3-day ground school concept and shortly after that sold the idea to AOPA to sponsor us. Now, we were back to owing our own aircraft again.

The moral of this story — if it hadn’t been for flying clubs there would be no Sporty’s. Owning a plane outright is a luxury I have been able to enjoy for the last 49 years, but it all started with flying clubs.  When you decide you want to learn to fly, start out in a flying club, or a partnership, or rent from an FBO, to obtain the practical experience needed to determine the aircraft you would like to own.

Is it any wonder I am so hot on flying clubs?  They made Sporty’s a reality!


Did you know Sporty's offers a Flying Club Rebate Program, where you can earn cash back for your club? Click here to learn more.

Flying Club Rebate program

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