By Dan Hall
Around Oshkosh time in the summer of 1993, several of us received letters from the Roofs informing us of their intention to get out of the FBO business. The Citabria was put up for sale and the C-150 was sold to P & N Aviation.
There we sat. Don’s “worse nightmare” was that his airport would degenerateinto a “benign storage facility for aircraft.” Now it seemed that such was soon to be the reality. The only semblance of organization on the premises would be the fifteen members of the Taildragger Club and those few who were still hangaring personal aircraft.
One evening in September Don called me at home and talked non-stop for at east one-half hour. His friend and fellow flight instructor, Gary Lust, had been discussing the idea of an aero club with Don. Gary had become familiar with such clubs while living in Australia. Don was enthused and excited at the prospect of resurrecting Green Castle with a new (for the United States) concept in aviation. He asked me if I’d consider helping out. It sounded good to me and I figured we had nothing to lose by trying. Besides, I owed him at least that much for having taught me the magic of flight. Also, for those of us who loved Green Castle, it would have been a tragedy to see it die. Don called several more people over a period of days. His plan was to hold an organizational meeting on the 28th of September.
Here are the minutes of our first meeting:
Minutes of First Meeting (9-28-93) submitted by Dan Hall
Don introduced attorney Dave Mitchell and pilot Gary Lust to approximately 30-40 people whom Don had contacted and summoned to this meeting. Don and Jackie Nelson are coming out of retirement to rejuvenate the Green Castle airport. The airport’s status has been in limbo since August when the Roofs decided not to continue leasing the facility. (Keith and JoDee Roof began leasing here in June of 1992 when Don and Jackie retired).
Gary Lust spoke and introduced the assemblage to the concept of aero clubs. He joined two such clubs while living in Australia. The idea is to serve a common interest and to have a social club. One goal is to involve families. Membership in one of the clubs was apx. 100. The club had a bar, training center, bar-b-que. Every airport in Australia had an aeroclub and some had a bunkhouse for transient fliers.
There would be flying events:
a. cross-country trips
b. glider flying
c. weekend group flights
d. athletic matches with other clubs
e. monthly flying competitions
1. free instruction during the competition
2. instrument flying
3. spot landing
4. emergency landing
The idea would be to help “low-buck” pilots stay current. To make it work we have to realize that people fly for enjoyment. This is going to cost something, however. We need to be honest with new pilots that flying is for enjoyment, not for travel. We need to do whatever it takes to make flying fun; i.e., social events, family events.
Don Nelson spoke that the idea is to have a club out here that benefits all aspects of flying. We plan to instruct in uncertified aircraft (KITFOX or AVID FLYER). This is legal and safe according to the FAA as long as this is an “in-house” deal (club members only). The cost to buy a used aircraft would hopefully be $12-14,000 and instruction would cost $20/hr plus instructor.
-Initial membership would cost $100 and monthly dues would be $10-15.
-The club would run the airport. We’d like to have 100-150 members.
-Don and Jackie would run the club for the first year or so.
-The airport would be closed to anyone not member of the club.
-The club would have a board of directors and an airport manager.
-Those renting hangars would be exempt from dues. (Tail Draggers club also)
-Insurance would be under a commercial policy (students or better)
-The club might look into a 4-place aircraft in the spring.
-The goal would be to have a bunch of new students coming in.
-Nobody would be able to compete with us for cost.
Dave Mitchell addressed the issue of a corporation for this enterprise. A corporation protects us from the actions of others. The club would lease the airport. He gave an eloquent and brief speech to the effect that; this is our opportunity to preserve something very precious. We have a place here where people can touch real old-fashioned tube and fabric airplanes. For ourselves and for the future generations we need to look long and hard at supporting this thing. Once it is gone we’ll realize just how much has been lost.
The meeting then transitioned to a question and answer session.
The idea is that the fortunes of no one individual would knock out the airport. This would be a self-perpetuating thing.
Q. Is there a way to guarantee the longevity of this airport?
A. Terry Wilcox has a chance to meet any offer to buy the airport. He would do so. He is interested in the aero club.
Q. Is the $100 for the entire family?
A. Yes. Any member of the family could take lessons.
There can also be social memberships at a reduced rate.
If anyone can put money down tonight this would be welcome.
Members would be stockholders and as such would be protected regarding liability. Members could buy non-owner insurance. (ex. AVEMCO)
Q. Can we get insurance to instruct in experimental aircraft?
A corporation can protect your personal assets but cannot protect the corporation’s assets, i.e., keep the corporation broke.
Q. Who will instruct?
A. Don, Gary, and Dale Yoder will instruct. Only members could instruct.
Q. When will all this happen?
A. Don would like to get a kitplane in here soon but would like to buy a ready-built plane by December 1st. He would like to have the airplanes inspected every 50 hours.
Q. Would it be feasible for the Tail Dragger club to merge their planes with the aero club?
A. Maybe, but who knows?
Q. Would radio controlled fliers have to pay $100?
A. Yes, because we need $10-15,000 to get this thing off the ground.
We need to involve many groups for diversity.
Maybe we’d need different kinds of memberships.
This may be the case. We’ll have to see how it works out. It could get confusing and unnecessarily complicated. This $100 fee should be uniform.
I will start the corporation if we want it…now.
If you want to risk any money, we’d appreciate it tonight. I need 3-4 people to help set up as a board of directors. Volunteers?
1. Dan Hall
2. Doug Hankwitz
3. Rick Treiber
4. John Butler
5. Clark Calta
6. Don Nelson
The name will be Green Castle Aero Club.
It might be a good idea to talk to other flying clubs to see what their rules are.
I have that information already.
It is important not to exceed our needs in terms of expense.
The future lies in homebuilt aircraft. We may be in the forefront of the future.
Q. How accessible would the aircraft be?
A. Not bad. We will have more and more airplanes as time goes on.
Make checks out to Don Nelson at this time!
We need $100 from 100 people to get off the ground. Thank-you for coming.
The following week (10-6-93) another informational session was held. There were 11 persons present. The notes for this meeting read much like those for the first.
Terry Wilcox expressed his desire that the airport remain viable. Don make it clear that profit will NOT be our motivation, beyond what is necessary.
Q. Could charter members get a certificate?
A. Don: “That and $.75 will get you a cup of coffee.”