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Thread: Chapters getting creative on attracting new and young membmers

  1. #1

    Chapters getting creative on attracting new and young membmers

    Thank you for sending in your February newsletters. I do enjoy reading each and everyone of them. I wanted to highlight two chapters that are working on growing their chapters and attracting "younger" members.

    In this addition of The Maple Lake Flyer...chapter 878 (Minnesota)...they reduced chapter dues to $10.00 if you are under the age of 35. Tom Rammel, chapter president writes: ".....so invite some young people to a meeing and encourage them to get involved in the local chapter."

    He also writes, "How can we get young people involved in our chapter?". Please share any ideas on this forum. We here this a lot from many other chapters trying to recruit and retain younger members. younger we mean 25 to 35 years of age.

    Printed in the "Cockpit Chatter", Ocala Florida Chapter 812 President, Bob Law writes: " This year we are kicking off a membership drive for our chapter. When you invite two friends who join our chapter and pay their dues, your membership dues will be paid for the next year, 2014. We may run a special from time to time, but don't wait for it. We need to increase our active members and cater to a younger crowd."

    If you have any other suggestions, please post.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    One of the big problems I have seen is a failure to advertise. Unless you know about the EAA and go looking for a contact person, you would be hard pressed to know that most airports (at least around here) have a chapter. Advertising at local airports (not just the one at which you are based) and more broadly in places frequented by the general public is vital if we want to maintain our numbers let alone grow. A lot of us seem to forget that not everyone who is interested in aviation is hanging around or visiting the airport. I know a lot of folks who are interested but don't know "where to start". I think this is a role for the EAA chapters as much as providing a social and building resource for the existing pilot community or giving Young Eagles rides.

    One of my suggestions is to try to involve the students from the local universities. There is a major push for the younger kids through the Young Eagles, but given how much we are tied into the sciences why are we not trying to attract these young soon-to-be professionals to the chapter? Get the professors in the engineering department involved (they can give a talk to the chapter about their area of expertise and offer bonus points for students who attend!), offer food and maybe arrange rides. These are the future pilots in the immediate future and they (along with their professors) can both learn and help teach a chapter. This might not work so well for some of the chapters where the interest is largely on a particular kit but for those with a focus on new design, plan built aircraft, innovation and improvement it could help bolster numbers and improve the sharing of knowledge.

    Also, given how much we complain about the way we get painted in the press, maybe it would be a good idea to host "Journalism Student Days" at the chapter. Introduce these students to small airplanes, the realities of them and their role in supporting the community. Then give them a talk about the myths of aviation to dispel these ideas. Talk to the professors and tell them you'll feed the students and the profs who come along. Chances are you'll get a good turnout.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  3. #3
    Thank you very much for the excellent feedback. May I use this in an upcoming ChapterGram e-letter to our Chapters?

  4. #4
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor Janz View Post
    Thank you very much for the excellent feedback. May I use this in an upcoming ChapterGram e-letter to our Chapters?
    Of course. Feel free to use it however you like.
    Unfortunately in science what you believe is irrelevant.

    "I'm an old-fashioned Southern Gentleman. Which means I can be a cast-iron son-of-a-***** when I want to be."- Robert A. Heinlein.



  5. #5

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    Last month I crashed the Penn State Aviation Club meeting and introduced myself to a dozen or so students that love aviation. I asked if any of them were EAA members. None were. I asked if any had heard of the EAA. Only 1 had. Most knew about the big airshow at Oshkosh, but none knew that it was the EAA. None knew that 4 miles away was an EAA chapter that had an annual open house and aviation display, that had a fly-in/camp-in weekend, had members building airplanes, and that had monthly meetings with interesting presenters. We SUCK at getting the word out that we exist and what we are! I am staying connected with this group and did get one to come to our last meeting. Hopefully he will help spread the word and more of his friends will join us. These guys just love talking about airplanes and being around them. Same as the rest of us! Now I'm wondering where the next outreach should be.

  6. #6

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    Greetings from Chapter 40 here in Los Angeles,

    We have achieved some modest ssuccess in this area recently. We are fortunate to have a strong monthly Young Eagles program, and a chapter hangar with three or four projects under construction. Last year I had managed to get a project aircraft donated to the chapter, which was for the purpose of getting existing and new members involved.

    One of our aircraft builders who was also flying Young Eagles, had the thought to invite the Young Eagles kids and their parents after their flight, to come see how an airplane was being built during our weekly "building nights". He then offered to have the kids assist on the project. Sure enough, several of them were quick to pick up tools, install wire ties, even pulling blind rivets on actual project aircraft. I'm not kidding when I say that we were thrilled at how well this idea went over.

    A couple of the parents and/or kids joined the chapter, with varying degrees of retention. But it got them at least in the door, and the rest was up to them. This merged and combined with another idea a couple of us had been working on.

    My big idea was for the chapter to build a primary glider with the Young Eagles kids. IMHO a primary glider represents the best combination of proven safety, very low cost, very quick and easy build... of any aircraft project that could get kids actually motivated to be active EAA members. There have been many other group and school aircraft projects, but those require a more significant outlay of funds for a kit or materials. A modernized primary glider can be built for about $1500 in materials. This dollar amount is much more achievable for an average EAA chapter. And it's a much faster build than any Kitfox /Zenair/Pietenpol type project.

    There is a very long and well documented history of primary training gliders being used, with kids as young as 10-12 years old flying them safely under controlled conditions (car tow at 15 miles an hour, two feet AGL, very low energy). This flight training activity is DIRT CHEAP, an order of magnitude less than standard "Cessna 150" flight training. Even if insurance and/or parent permission issues prohibited the kids themselves from flying the glider, they would have built an aircraft and seen it fly in person.

    The low cost of both building and flying this glider takes it out of the "daydream" realm and puts it i nto the "we can actually do this" position, even for a small chapter. There happens to be a properly engineered primary glider design that offers free plans online (the BUG and GOAT gliders from Mike Sandlin). This is a tubing and pop rivet design that has been proven safe, both structurally and its flying characteristics.

    So, to bring this back to relevance with the original subject of this thread, I believe this type of thing is how we would get new EAA members (both kids and their parents) on a modest budget. For chapters who have ongoing weekly or monthly Young Eagles events, it's a natural transition, and a perfect follow-on after the kids have flown. For small chapters without regular Young Eagles events, it is a pretty good bet that local kids building an airplane will be picked up by the local newspaper or TV station.

    It's my intent to promote this idea within our chapter, and I truly hope that this is embraced by other chapters and EAA leadership. I will be very happy to correspond with anyone in support of this concept, and answer any questions. EAA strongly requests than any chapter building project gets transferred from the chapter into private or "private club" ownership before it flies, which is easy enough to do.
    Last edited by Victor Bravo; 03-12-2013 at 03:07 PM.

  7. #7
    Getting kids interested in aviation isn't too difficult in my opinion. We started Eagle's Nest 4 in Puyallup, WA in January of this year. During our intro meeting we had 25 kids present and that was on short notice to one local high school. If the question is getting youth involved then providing some kind of outlet for them is all we need to do.

    "Sim Nights" where local chapter members introduce kids to one of the various flight sims that's available seems like a cheap and easy way to get started. There may be non-pilot sim users out there that know more about the Sim than most pilots, but the non-pilots could use some help using it correctly. It seems like a win-win actually. Maybe the local FBO will even host the event in their hangar.

    Young Eagles is also a good start, but it gets expensive over time and doesn't give them a means to keep the flame alive. Perhaps a Young Eagles flight followed by monthly Sim Nights (or quarterly?) would help keep things going. Add incentives to learn between sessions. They get free flight training from Sporty's through Young Eagles. If they use it and can demonstrate new skills maybe they get another ride in a real airplane). Maybe we could work a similar deal with one of the flight sim vendors to give kids a free basic sim to use.


    Let’s not forget about the RC Models… that’s what kept me going from childhood until I was able to actually afford flying lessons.

    This topic has come up a number of times before. There are really a couple issues here. Getting KIDS interested in aviation now will pay off down the road, but it doesn't help a near term issue in GA. The average age for a Young Eagle is fairly young. Even if it was made up of all "young adults" they will likely not have the means to join the GA fleet for many years to come (20+ years is a very slow growing seed). I saw a recent post on VAF about the age of RV-12 builders. Most are between 50-60, with the next largest group between 40-50 (don't quote me on that, but I think that’s right). The 20 and 30 something's, let alone teens, don't have the financial means in most cases to support an aviation "habit". If the question is how do we involve kids, then Young Eagles, Eagle's Nest, Teen Flight, etc. all seem reasonable and some of these kids will, eventually, grow up to help fill in the ranks in GA and keep the commercial pipeline full.

    I think we can agree that commercial air travel isn't going to go away, but GA could easily, and quickly lose ground on a number of fronts (access to services, closing airports, more taxes, etc). The near term focus, IMO, should be the 30 - 50 yo ranks who have the disposable income to make a difference in GA now (aka “Eagle Flights”). Also, remember that those 40-50 yo people now may not know a thing about the sport pilot ruling (lower barrier to entry and no medical). A prime example is my uncle who is actually now in his mid-60’s who knew absolutely nothing about changes that have taken place since he took flying lessons 30 years ago.
    I’m not proposing that we abandon the kids, but perhaps we need to invite their parents too :-) When little Johnny grows up and leaves the nest daddy and mommy will have more money to spend on themselves.

    Perhaps we should start a new program called "Empty Eagle's Nest"? :-)

    Darrin Dexheimer
    EAA Chapter 326, EAA 727459
    Young Eagles Coordinator
    Eagle's Nest (#4) Coordinator and Web Master

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