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Thread: And now for something completely different...

  1. #1
    Sonex1517's Avatar
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    And now for something completely different...

    I hope every chapter member and every member of the EAA staff reads this post. Maybe, just maybe, it will make them think....

    I went to a local chapter meeting this evening. It's not the first meeting of an EAA chapter I've been to, but it was the first at this one. Unfortunately, my experience mirrors other experiences I have had.

    I am in my mid 40's, a private pilot, used to own an airplane, and am currently building a Sonex. Been an EAA member for years.

    Tonight, sadly, when I went to the chapter meeting and arrived early, only one person said hello. He is 85 years old,not a pilot, and as far as I can tell, no one said hello to him, either. He just likes airplanes and lives nearby. Great guy.

    I emailed the chapter president, copied EAA's chapter email address, and included my phone number. I will be interested to see if anyone responds.

    Why would I post this?

    Here is why:

    I wish I could say I am surprised. I am not. I wish I could say the experience was unique. I cannot. In fact, it mirrors much of my experience, and that of many "younger" people like me. In fact, it has been my experience at other EAA chapters. I feels like a closed door that when we knock, no one bothers to answer.

    If your chapter, if EAA, if aviation, wants new members, younger enthusiastic people, to become involved, try looking around. This is why I am posting this on an EAA forum for all to see - personally, I hope they send this to Rod and he writes an editorial about it. EAA and aviation needs a wake up.

    I came to try the chapter on for size. Sure didn't fit.

    Next meeting, look around. I won't be there, but maybe another new face will be. Say hello. Ask how they are, what they are doing. Maybe they are new to aviation, just interested. Maybe they are building something. Never know.
    Robbie Culver
    Sonex #1517
    Taildragger
    AeroVee
    Currently working on the wings
    Chicagoland

  2. #2
    Hangar10's Avatar
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    One visit and that's it? You are surprised that no one said, "Heeey Robbie, come on in here and tell us all about things!"

    Question... does your chapter ask if there are any guests or new members in attendance? If not, you might recommend that they start. This is a good opportunity to let others know who you are and what your interests are. In addition to that, does your chapter do a pancake breakfast or anything? If so, did you volunteer to help out?

    You may wonder what I am getting at... well, I joined our chapter a little less than 3 years ago at age 37 and I got a similar type of reception. I didn't bother to introduce myself when asked if we had any guests (I was already a member and didn't think they were talking to me), but I didn't run and tuck tail... I offered to help cook breakfast at our upcoming pancake breakfast. Everyone looked at me like, "who is this guy?" Know why they did that? Because no one knew who I was. I knew that, but I also knew that they would get to know me (and visa-versa) if I hung around, which I did... and the next month, I was there again... at the meeting, at breakfast, at the local fly-ins, etc. All these guys are people just like you and me... they don't know who they don't know... if you don't make yourself available and allow them to get to know you, well, they just won't know you.

    My point... get involved and people will get to know you real quick. Could be that your chapter is in need of some fresh blood in order to get things fired up. Not long ago I didn't know anyone at our chapter... now I am our newsletter editor. I attend all of our functions and even help plan some of them. I'll flip pancakes, make coffee, sweep the floor, set up and tear down tables, mow the grass, whatever needs doing and whatever allows me to be at the airport. Heck, just a few months in I had a fellow member (now a good friend) say to me, "You know, when you first came around some of us didn't care much for your approach, but now that we've got to know you we really appreciate your efforts." It was a little awkward, but I took it as a compliment and have continued to pitch in. Is my story typical? I don't know, but that's how it went, and that's the way I got to know people at our chapter. Now my family and I know most of them, and they know us.

    How about starting a new job? You don't quit on the first day because everyone isn't your friend, do you? I would like to encourage you to go back next month and the one after. Volunteer at your events. Help set up for meetings. Do whatever needs doing! If some of those old codgers don't immediately appreciate your effort (I say that affectionately), give it time... after while they'll be glad that they don't have to make EVERY pot of coffee or put up ALL the chairs.

    I take it that you are building (or perhaps have built) a Sonex? Someone there is interested in that... perhaps more than you would think. In the short 2+ years I've been at our chapter I have become good friends with many of the fellas and their families. My wife and son are involved too... that helps a lot. Several of us (I'm talking 20+ at times) eat dinner on Friday nights and a few of us are even spending Thanksgiving together. It is a lot of fun and there is no better group of people to be around. Give it more of a chance, and let them know that you are there. Remember, I am younger than you are, and might be the youngest member here that regularly attends meetings and such. I'll just say that it is what you make of it. Keep after em.

  3. #3

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    Getting into some of these chapters is like breaking into an old boys club.

  4. #4
    Barnstorm's Avatar
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    My local chapter (EAA 174) ALWAYS asks as part of the beginning of each meeting for any new people or guests to stand up and introduce themselves.

    I think this should be on every clubs agenda.

    .
    "The exhilaration of flying is too keen, the pleasure too great, for it to be neglected as a sport" Orville Wright
    Tim OConnor, CFI, Commercial Pilot Rotorcraft, Sport Pilot Fixed Wing, FAA Advanced Ground Instructor:..
    You CAN Afford to FLY ! --> http://www.YouCanAffordToBeAPilot.com

  5. #5
    Mike Switzer's Avatar
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    Our flying club always has a round of introductions (everyone) at the beginning of our monthly meeting - which is good when people attend that aren't there much, but somewhat amusing at the meetings where the same 8-10 people that never miss a meeting are the only ones there.

  6. #6
    Chad Jensen's Avatar
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    I'm a member of two Chapters...Chapter's 129, Bloomington, IL, does a round of intro's for the new people to get up and say hi, and I had hoped that all Chapter's were like this...frustrating to hear this. 129 is very active, and is extremely welcoming to new people. Chapter 252 has been open and friendly to me as well, though I've only been to one meeting, and it was a demonstration meeting that had lots of new faces, so we did an entire round the room intro for everyone. I doubt that's a common occurrence each month, but I felt welcome nonetheless.

    I would certainly encourage you to go back next month, and if nothing else, raise your hand, stand up, and introduce yourself as the new guy, then get involved. Mark has some great suggestions, and I had similar events happen to me with 129...ended up holding all offices except Treasurer over the course of 8 years or so...in fact, even though I live it Wisconsin now, I was told that I was elected Secretary at last nights meeting!

    Give it another shot...
    Chad Jensen
    EAA #755575

  7. #7
    Mike Switzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chad Jensen View Post
    in fact, even though I live it Wisconsin now, I was told that I was elected Secretary at last nights meeting!
    Several organizations I am a member of have a history of electing people to office who miss the meeting & couldn't defend themselves...

  8. #8
    Chad Jensen's Avatar
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    Yeah...I had some forewarning about this too...luckily I was voted down by "one" vote. Just got the news. Phew!
    Chad Jensen
    EAA #755575

  9. #9
    Hangar10's Avatar
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    Wow! Some groups do a whole round of introductions? Seems like that might take a while, but it sounds neat. It isn't unusual for us to have 50-60 members in attendance, but I might recommend that we do that once or twice a year.

    One thing that we try to do is to sponsor new members. For example, if I bring a new member (or prospective member) to a meeting, I would do the initial introduction... who they are, how we met, brief description of interests and background, etc., and then they pal around with me until they get comfortable... and I try to get them to do what I do (i.e. the chairs go here, the sound system is over there, etc.). It helps to make them feel involved without having to stand up in front of 50 strangers to introduce themselves. It doesn't always work out, but we have picked up a couple of new members over the past year that enjoy being involved. One of them is our new webmaster!

    I can remember coming to chapter 10. I procrastinated for several years because I just KNEW that everyone there was a master builder and pilot while I was just a lowly youngster with a thin log book. As time went on I found that wasn't the case at all. Heck, some of them will admit that they couldn't build a proper bird house. But while everyone may not be a builder, all of them have some interest in flying. You are among friends whether it seems like it up front or not.

    I will have to admit, I really don't have much experience with EAA chapters outside of chapter 10 other than what I read in some of their newsletters. I suppose that I am fortunate to be involved with chapter 10 because 1.) The membership is active and outgoing, and 2.) We are right here in the middle of aviation central... Tulsa, Oklahoma. Heck, there are more than 10 airports/strips within 10 or 15 miles of my home airport, several of them put on picnics throughout the year... the activity and interest is evident around here. I am sure that these facts help a lot, but if your chapter or area is not like this, how about trying to organize an event or two. See if there might not be an interest within the chapter to put on a pancake breakfast or SAturday afternoon hamburger picnic. Don't forget to encourage getting the families involved... it makes for more fun AND support. Even if the event starts out small, at least it will get people together and talking airplanes, and perhaps other events.

    I know that I am describing things from an active members perspective, which may not do much for the new guy trying to "break in" to a new group. I guess that my point is simply that you show up and act like you belong there, because YOU DO! The comaraderie will soon follow.
    Dang I'm long winded... no wonder they made me the newsletter editor.

    This is another thread that I wish was in the Chapters section.

  10. #10
    Chad Jensen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hangar10 View Post
    This is another thread that I wish was in the Chapters section.
    Done!
    Chad Jensen
    EAA #755575

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