Come fly with me: New Aviation Club lets prospective pilots take the controls during ‘Flight Day’ at Warrenton Airport

by   Posted on May 3rd, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Emily Sharrer, Editor-in-Chief

It’s been nearly three years since Rick Davis, associate provost for undergraduate education first hatched the idea of a flying club at George Mason University, close to a year since student James Buttery began rallying support and gathering paperwork to make it a reality, and a little over a month since the Mason Aviation Club has been instated at Mason.

Already the group has gathered close to 200 Facebook fans and 50 official members, 29 of whom gathered on Saturday for the club’s first-ever Flight Day at Warrenton-Faquier Airport.

“This is really a test semester for us, we’re just kind of seeing what works and what doesn’t,” said Conor Dancy, a freshman environmental science major and vice president of the Aviation Club.

Last Saturday, the Aviation Club got together at Warrenton Airport to fly airplanes, eat BBQ, and have a meet and greet with local pilots, including famed Flying Circus Aerodrome airshow pilot Charlie Kulp, also known as “the Flying Farmer.”

“In the aviation world Charlie Kulp, especially around here, is a pretty big celebrity, so even just the fact that he would come out to something like that, in the eyes of the aviation community, that’s a really big thing,” said Buttery, a senior conflict analysis and resolution major and president of the Aviation Club.

Through their local connections, Buttery and Dancy were able to borrow a hangar for the day from local aviation services company Skyworld Aviation, while local pilots gave club members rides in their planes, giving them a chance to take the controls if they so chose.

“It was absolutely incredible that they would just be willing to show up,” said Buttery, who has been a flying-enthusiast since he was a child and has his Private Pilot License. “All the pilots donated their time and their money and their aircrafts, so it didn’t cost the flight members anything.”

Members of the Flying Circus, a Bealeton, Va. group that performs wing walking, parachuting and acrobatic acts, offered Aviation Club members free rides in their planes — a service that normally costs hundreds of dollars according to Buttery and Dancy.

“I’ve looked at [their] website and what they charge for a ride at the Flying Circus and what they were just giving away was absolutely amazing,” said Buttery.

“There was not a single person yesterday who didn’t walk away with a huge grin on their face,” said Dancy, who has his Commercial Flight License and is working toward his Certificated Flight Instructor certificate. “It couldn’t have gone any better.”

Over the summer Buttery and Dancy are planning air traffic control tower tours and other small events for interested club members, and in the future hope to host “fly outs,” where the students would take day trips in planes to places like New York, Philadelphia or other nearby cities. The pair also hopes to host other successful flight days like Saturday’s event.

“Our focus is on really flying; getting people in the air,” said Dancy. “We probably are gonna take as many trips as we have meetings.”

The ambitious pilots are also planning on offering official introductory courses to help club members interested in getting their pilot’s licenses.

“We kinda get you half way there,” said Buttery, “it’s not flying an airplane, but it’s learning all the little mechanics.”

“Our ultimate goal with this, I guess is to provide a strong background in aviation for people who eventually want to learn how to fly,” added Dancy. “We can’t give them their pilot’s licenses but we can teach them what they need to know so that they can get it more easily, and in less time and spend less money.”

For more information on the Aviation Club visit www.facebook.com/GMU Aviation.



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