four months—it takes that long mainly because most
groups meet only once a month—at a cost of $300-$400,
including application fee and insurance, local dues, and
Greg says he first called EAA headquarters to see how
many EAA members lived within a 50-mile radius of him.
He received not only the names and addresses of nearby
members, but also postcards to mail out to them.
“I sent the postcards out and wrote that I was thinking
of starting a chapter,” he says. “More than 40 people came
to our first meeting. About that same amount came to our
Greg says the chapter already has officers, is building a
chapter website, and is assigning committees. But while it
has no place of its own to call home yet, the airport manager
and the fixed base operator (FBO) owner have joined the
chapter and are allowing the group to use their facilities—a
conference room in the St. Joseph airport or an FBO hangar,
depending on weather.
John says he ran into a lot of naysayers who questioned
if he would be successful in starting a new EAA chapter.
“But now all the naysayers are in the chapter. They all
wanted it, but didn’t think they had the gumption to do
As for others thinking of starting a chapter, John’s advice is
simple. “Do it. You just need to be a catalyst to get it going.”
And what do you have to lose, he questions. “If you have
the will, and think it will be good for your airport, do it. If it
doesn’t work, you’re just back to driving to the next chapter.
You can still go to the meetings when you have time.”
Greg says their chapter is planning a variety of events
this first year, including a fly-in breakfast and a Young Eagles
rally. In the long run, they hope to buy their own hangar
and make their chapter a place where youth can be regularly
exposed to aviation.
John Wisdom Paul Pakusch
Greg has already been in contact with counselors at the
middle school and high school levels to introduce the Young
Eagles program, plus he’s filled out the paperwork to become
an aviation merit badge counselor for Boy Scouts of America.
Greg’s chapter also hopes to start a tool loan program and
coordinate efforts of members who have planes in various
stages of construction.
While 40 members are officially on the books, Greg is
looking to keep the group growing, and made up business
cards to pass out to those interested in joining. “Plus, I gave
about 10 cards to each member,” he says. “That way if they
run into someone who is interested, they have a card to
hand to him or her that gives our contact information and
our meeting time.”
Although Chapter 1475 is also young and small—
about 20-plus members so far—chapter leaders have big
plans and ideas, too. The chapter is partnering with high
school shop classes, and their first project will be jointly
Members of EAA Chapter 1475 gathered for a hangar party in April
Chapter 44 member Dave Hurd drives the Plane Train with future
Young Eagles along for the ride. The photo was taken at Chapter
44’s 50th anniversary celebration, Families Fly.
building and flying a model aircraft, complete with radio
“We figure it’s a good way to get youth involved in
aviation,” John says. “If we get them building and flying
an RC aircraft, a real aircraft will come in the future.”
Its first Young Eagles rally was scheduled for June, held
in conjunction with the airport fly-in. In the long term,
John also hopes to have a club hangar that has enough
room to allow for multiple projects.
A club hangar that fits the need of chapter members
will help a chapter grow, says Duane Huff, of EAA
Chapter 690 in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He knows that
Chapter 690 was small when it was chartered in 1980.
“But we’ve grown to over 200 members annually,” he
says, noting that much of the growth has occurred since
1995 when they moved into their chapter-owned hangar.
The chapter has always been active in Young Eagles
and has flown more than 5,000 Young Eagles since its