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Maryland flying club commemorates fiftieth anniversary

“We all have a strong sense of duty to the organization, making sure that it is well-run with members that are really committed to the principles of why we formed it in the first place,” said Scot Shealer, who has been a member of the club since 1999, and its secretary-treasurer for 20 years.

The club, located at Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland, has flown a 1976 Cessna C177B Cardinal since 2009, and it has certainly put it to good use. The Cardinal has taken members as far north as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and as far south as the Bahamas and Key West, Florida. Members have also flown it to Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Hilton Head, South Carolina; and many places in between.

The Cardinal is only the second aircraft the club has owned. Sky-Hi opened its doors after purchasing a 1968 Cessna 172I on February 19, 1972.

Scot Shealer with the Sky-Hi Flying Club's current Cessna C177B Cardinal at St. Stephen Airport in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Photo courtesy of Scot Shealer.

“We are fortunate to have a great group of members, who are ensuring that we have a solid future,” Shealer added.

Chuck Ufkes, one of the club’s first members and presidents, looks back with fondness on the club’s five decades.

“We definitely found that it was cheaper and easier to own and operate our own airplanes,” Ufkes said from his home in Ocala, Florida, where he remains an active pilot. “I recall that our monthly dues were $25, and it cost $8 per hour to rent the plane—wet. We even had a few members get their private licenses through the club, which is not something you hear with a lot of clubs.”

The club has capped its membership at 15 (with a current waiting list of 10) to ensure that it can maximize affordability for members, as well as aircraft availability.

“We’re excited to see our friends at Sky-Hi celebrate this milestone,” said Steve Bateman, director of AOPA’s Flying Clubs initiative under the You Can Fly umbrella. “This group is an embodiment of why flying clubs make so much sense—being able to share the passion for aviation in the most economical and approachable way.”

The You Can Fly program and the Air Safety Institute are funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit www.aopafoundation.org/donate.

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