The Value of an Aircraft Type Club
Flying|November 2020
Does membership create safer pilots?
ROB MARK

When people are madly in love, they usually want to share their joy and passion. When those people happen to be pilots and their passion is an airplane, they join a type club—in which others share their love for the Bonanza or a Cirrus or a Cessna 120 and also to soak up the latest technical, operational and safety tips. A type club in which pilots seek camaraderie around a series of machines probably sounds a little nuts to nonpilots. The drive to do so is actually pretty simple. Imagine trying to restore a 1967 Jaguar XKE. Who wouldn’t want to connect with other people around the world ready to help you avoid the pitfalls that caught them over the years? Just think airplanes.

In his work “The Efficacy of Aircraft Type Club Safety,” safety expert Jeff Edwards says: “One prominent goal of aircraft type clubs is also reducing aircraft accidents and improving safety within the fleet. Type clubs may also have a training arm that encourages and supports type-specific ground and flight training. These clubs can assist the [National Transportation Safety Board] and the FAA during investigations of aircraft accidents involving its fleet.”

The variety of type clubs is as vast as the GA fleet, old and new—including the American Bonanza Society (with nearly 10,000 members), the Citation Jet Pilots Association (with 1,280 members), the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (with 6,300 members), the Pilatus Owners and Pilots Association (representing 240 to 260 aircraft), and the Malibu M-Class Owners and Pilots Association (with 1,300 members) to name a few. Older, less-popular airplanes haven’t been left adrift, though, thanks to the likes of the Bellanca-Champion Club, Cardinal Flyers Online, Ercoupe Owners Club and T-34 Association. The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Type Club Coalition webpage includes a current list of clubs as well as tips on creating a club of your own.

Type clubs also bring people together through a variety of social activities, people who otherwise would have never known each other. Cessna stopped making the Cardinal series more than 40 years ago, so Rogers Faden joined the Cardinal Flyers Online shortly after purchasing his Cardinal RG in 2006 because “it’s a good, knowledgeable group. In addition to technical support for the airplane, they offer quite a few pilot activities. Because all my flying is of a social and personal nature, CFO’s activities really appealed to me.”

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