Remote Chapter Finds ‘Fun’ Way to Bring Aviators Together
By Bob Styve
EAA Chapter 1446, Bowstring, Minnesota (9Y0)
October 18, 2011 – Last year, Gene Ward and I attended the Chapter Leaders Academy and we presented the situation that our chapter was in regarding chapter activities.
Our area is relatively remote and potential for attracting active members to Bowstring Airport is quite low. I'm sure there are many other chapters with the same situation. Because of our small membership, activities requiring only a few members must be planned. We had previously tried some basic activities, but were not successful in using any of them for fundraising.
We decided to abandon the fundraising in favor of “fun”-raising, turning our regular monthly meetings into fly-ins that offer area pilots a destination for a weekend flight and feature “no-charge food” provided by our members. This monthly event has been successful in attracting fly-in activity whenever the weather cooperates. We have even managed to build our chapter’s coffers through free-will donations for the food and have added to our membership roster.
Recently, we held our first fly-in/camp-in that featured the normal fly-in food (burgers, hot dogs, salads, etc.) into early evening on Saturday. After dark, we showed the aviation movie Pearl and had a campfire, and we had an early morning breakfast for campers and others who attended. All food was provided to attendees without charge (again, free-will donations were accepted). This event was put together by about 10 chapter members.
The next day, another group – the Bowstring Fliers – had its annual Fall Colors Fly-In, featuring chili and hot dogs. Most of their attendees were the same pilots that were at our event on Saturday. The two events kept activity high at the remote airport that normally does not attract much traffic.
Most pilots indicated that they will return for future events, including our monthly fly-in. The many positive comments are encouraging and we plan to hold these two concurrent events annually.
I thought that you might be interested in knowing that the activity plan that we presented at the session in Oshkosh seems to have actually worked, and was one that small chapters could accomplish.