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Purpose And Roles Of EAA Chapter

By Bill Hanna

The EAA is an activity-based, member-driven organization. Chapters are a unique and important element of the EAA. They are the focal point where Members have the ability to interact and participate and also serve as a platform for EAA programs at the local level. Without the International network of Chapters, the accomplishments of the EAA, its contribution to the world of sport aviation, and its value to EAA Members would be greatly diminished. To effectively organize and manage a Chapter, it is essential that the Chapter Leaders understand and support these roles.

Every EAA Chapter is unique. The specific interests of a Chapter's membership will influence its activities and personality as an organization. However, to varying degrees, every Chapter will play some combination of the following roles:

Member Interaction
All EAA Members are aviation enthusiasts. An EAA Chapter provides a forum for Members to come together at a local, personal level and share their interests and common love for aviation. This social interaction with kindred spirits is one of the most fundamental reasons EAA Members join a Chapter. Every Chapter should conscientiously support and nurture this interaction.

A local Chapter membership represents a wealth of aviation knowledge, skills, and resources. The Chapter enables a network to develop where Members can assist each other and share their expertise. This typically includes homebuilders working together, Technical Counselors and Flight Advisors providing their support and general "hanger flying" where people share their experiences. Some of this networking will happen naturally within a Chapter, but the Chapter's programs and activities can reinforce it. Access to the skills, knowledge and experience of other EAA Members was one of the original founding tenants of the EAA Chapter program and still remains a critical role.

Local Aviation Activities
A Chapter provides a local, on-going activity base for EAA Members. Every EAA meeting is an aviation activity. In addition; the guest speakers, fly-ins, fly-outs, forums, air shows, and multitude of other activities EAA Chapters plan and implement add to the count. Some activities are primarily for the benefit the local EAA Chapter Members, but frequently the larger aviation community is served as well. Chapters are the organizational basis for literally thousands of aviation activities and events annually - more aviation related activities than any other organization in the world. Making things happen at the local level is one of the most tangible of Chapter roles.

Business Framework
The formal incorporation of a Chapter establishes a legal basis and favorable tax status to own assets and generate income to support its member's interests and activities. It also shields the members form personal liability risks. These business structure features, along with EAA provided insurance coverage, enable EAA Members to undertake projects and activities that would be impractical and risk-laden if the Chapter platform was not in place.

EAA Representation
Although the EAA is prominent, international organization, often the only exposure to the EAA and awareness of the organization by the general public, and some of the flying community, is through the presence and activities of local Chapters. The positive image of the EAA, its high standards, and contributions are projected through the Chapters. It is an inherent role of every Chapter and its leaders that they assure the chapter's contribution to the reputation and image of the EAA is positive.

Local Chapters provide EAA headquarters with and important conduit for communication with WAA members. Aviation concerns can be emphasized and new initiatives explained through the Chapter interface. When membership support is needed, this communication interface serves to quickly inform members of the issue and organize their actions. This information flow can be two-way. Concerns and input of EAA Members condensed and compiled through a Chapter represent a very effective approach for EAA Members to communicate to headquarters. Chapter leaders play a key role in facilitating, not filtering, this communications linkage.

Program Implementation
The Chapter also serves as an enabler for EAA programs and initiatives to be accomplished at the local level. Chapters represent nearly 1000 sets of organized resources deployed in the field to support EAA programs. Through the Chapter network, EAA can directly implement many aspects of its mission and objectives. Many programs are designed for execution through the Chapter infrastructure, e.g., Flying Start and Young Eagles. While initiatives such as the Technical Counselor and Flight Advisor programs can work at the individual level, the Chapter platform provides and organization base that enhances their range and effectiveness.

Several roles identified above are member oriented. Their underlying tenant is to provide members services and activities they would not be able to accomplish on their own. This is a fundamental reason for the EAA Chapter program which has existed since the beginnings of the Association. In other roles, Chapters serve as a tool or extension of the EAA parent body to enhance its ability to fulfill its overall mission as an organization. In all cases, the Chapter program dramatically multiplies the effectiveness of the EAA as an organization and the value of EAA membership. To fulfill these roles, Chapters need a sound organizational structure and effective on-going management. Chapter leaders must be prepared to provide both.

Primary References
, February, 1988
Chapters…The Grass Roots of EAA, Mary Jones

Sport Aviation
, July, 1996
Homebuilders' Corner, Tom Poberezny

Sport Aviation,
March, 1995
Homebuilders' Corner, Tom Poberezny

Sport Aviation
, October, 1986
EAA Chapter News, Lisa Chapman

Sport Aviation
, February, 1985
A Special Report…A Look at EAA, Tom Poberezny

Sport Aviation,
April, 1965
Chatting with the Chapters, Leo J. Kohn

Sport Aviation
, May, 1965
Chatting with the Chapters, Leo J. Kohn

EAA Chapter Monthly Gram
, Volume IV, No. 3
How well are we doing?

Letter to Chapter Presidents, March 1, 1988
Paul Poberezny

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