Assuming you own an airplane or fly the same one all the time, consider joining the type club supporting that aircraft. Okay, that’s your takeaway. Let me explain why I recommend that.
I’ve owned three airplanes. My first was a mighty Cessna 150 and I was too young and too ignorant for aircraft ownership, so that one doesn’t count. Next was a Mooney, a 1968 M20F Executive. Older and wiser then, I had previously joined the Mooney Aircraft Pilots’ Association (MAPA).
My current aircraft is a 1982 Cessna 340A. Again, before buying the 340 I joined The Twin Cessna Flyers (TTCF) association. In my experience with both MAPA and TTCF, these—and by extension, probably about all—type associations are a great resource.
Joining before I purchased the aircraft allowed me to more thoroughly research my intended purchase. In reading the club newsletter, I was able to learn where the weak spots and the strengths were, which models were the most desirable, find the absolute best shops, and to generally learn from the experiences of other owners. This allowed me to make a far more informed decision about what to purchase and how much to pay. This, alone, was worth the modest price of entry.
But, the need for information like that doesn’t stop when you sign the check. It continues throughout your ownership. For example, my 340 is currently in annual and we decided to replace the pressurization seals around the control cables. The aileron cable seals at the right wing root were impossible to reach, causing us lots of head scratching.
With the guidance of the association’s “technical director,” Tony Saxton, owner of a shop that’s been primarily servicing Twin Cessnas for many decades, we were able to fashion a tool that made the job, while not quite simple, at least a lot more practical. That advice alone saved me many hundreds of dollars of shop time. That’s but one recent example of the kind of assistance I received from both MAPA and TTCF.
While assistance like that is worth many times the cost, the benefits of type clubs go much further. Most have social gatherings. Many of those gatherings are informal, like regional $1000 hamburger runs, but many are also formally organized and presented.
When we had the Mooney, we made many friends at those gatherings, and we still enjoy some of those friendships now, more than a decade after selling the Mooney.
Then, there are the conventions. Most clubs have an annual convention. That convention might be primarily a social event, or it might be a professionally planned and conducted event with government and industry presentations and vendors filling the hall.
I recently attended my first TTCF convention and was overwhelmed with the opportunity to talk face-to-face with experts in all aspects of my 340 operations. Continental Motors, Cessna, Garmin, RAM and many others were there. Of course they were there to sell, but also to support, ready to talk with us and provide superb guidance and product insight that you just can’t normally get. They were more accessible than at Oshkosh, and there weren’t even any crowds, tents or waits for a shower.
So, even if you’re not normally a joiner, consider signing up with your type association for immeasurable benefits and resources that contribute to your safe and enjoyable flying.