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Plan a Successful Chapter Event!
By Gary Baker, EAA Lifetime Member 251742, President, Chapter 846, Wadsworth, Ohio
January 2016 - Whether you fly, build, restore, or simply enjoy airplanes and aviation, you are welcome to attend our events and even join our chapter.
Chapter 846 is a group of aviation enthusiasts, aircraft builders, and pilots who get together with like-minded people to share ideas, exchange information, encourage safety, serve the local aviation community, and have a lot of fun doing so.
Over the last 30 years, our Chapter 846 members have:
- Restored 20-plus aircraft
- Provided scholarships to young people to attend the EAA Air Academy
- Offered free airplane rides to over 2,600 kids between the ages of 8-17 at our annual Young Eagles Day.
- Had countless workshops, seminars, cookouts, fly-ins, and fly-outs.
We love aviation and we would love to have you join us. Please come to our next meeting or event as our guest.
When planning for the next year’s programs during chapter meetings, I strive for some diversity in the types of programs selected. Our chapter consists of many builders and restorers, so some programs dealing with some facet of building are always required.
Many of our members are also interested in the history of aviation. Being near Cleveland, the home of many aviation historical events, makes learning about local aviation history more interesting, as well.
Also, because many of our members have been or are pilots, I also like to include flight safety programs. My goal in planning the monthly programs for the year is to try to equally pick topics from each of these three areas.
Programs about aircraft building techniques are fairly easy to put together. What is primarily needed is a chapter member willing to get up in front of the group and talk to them for 45 minutes. This is also a good opportunity for a show-and-tell program, making the program even easier to put together. Who doesn’t enjoy talking about overcoming a problem encountered during the building process and sharing that with other builders?
By having chapter members ask around their circle of friends for references of anyone who might be interested in some historical aspect of aviation, they might be surprised to learn that possibly a neighbor has an intense interest in a specific area of aviation.
In our case, a gentleman had studied and researched for many years the history of the Cleveland National Air Races and Cleveland Hopkins Airport. He is a great resource for programs. Other members might know of someone who flew in the military and is willing to talk about his or her experiences to the chapter.
Medevac crews and other folks who operate aircraft outside of the normal routine of aviation are also potential speakers.
Our chapter membership also includes a few flight instructors. They are always willing to present a safety program on flying. Hopefully chapters have members who are flight advisors and technical counselors. They should be a good reference for a program or two.
During the summer, my chapter has changed our meeting format from indoors to an outdoor potluck cookout for the spouses and kids to join in on our regular meeting night.
By inviting the spouses for these meetings, we have dramatically increased the awareness at the local airport of our activities, as well as having gained a few new members.
The EAA Chapter Handbook contains a long list of suggested topics for programs, which has greatly helped me over the years when I am looking for activity suggestions. I find that the members appreciate seeing different types of programs when the year is planned out in this manner.
Our chapter has also seen an increase in membership because of our varied types of programs. One word of caution: Get the members involved in planning and presenting programs. Don’t be the only planner, or one of just a few people involved in planning the year’s activities. Spread the wealth and have fun!