Chapter 5 of the Experimental Aircraft Association recently received a Gold Member Award from EAA Headquarters.
One of the oldest, EAA Chapter 5, based at Geauga County Airport in Middlefield, is a charitable organization that supports young people in aviation and provides its members with recreational opportunities and educational programs such as aircraft construction.
“This little-known or understood corner of the aviation world, usually referred to as residential construction, is where people like me who like to tinker and also have a pilot’s license, build their own aircraft,” said the president of the chapter 5, Tim Connor. “Building an airplane – I call it the ultimate DIY project.”
To recognize Chapters that have demonstrated their commitment to General Aviation, the EAA has rolled out the Chapter Recognition Program, which is based on 10 criteria that have been shown to correlate with active and engaged Chapters. EAA Chapter 5 was one of three to receive gold.
“There are 37 chapters in Ohio and only three of us have it,” Connor said. “There’s another chapter in Medina that has the gold award and one in Cincinnati that has it. There are also other chapters with silver and bronze. I have to admit I’ve been doing this for so I’ve been a little jaded by all this for a long time, but when I sit down and think about people who haven’t been doing this for so long, it’s huge.
“I’ve been a member of smaller chapters that are less active and from their perspective, doing this kind of stuff is a bit difficult,” Connor said. “We’re lucky our chapter has grown and we’re at a point where we’re big enough to have the manpower to do things and finish things like this.”
The 10 criteria a Chapter must meet to receive the Gold, Silver or Bronze award include:
• Attend a chapter leadership training session, which EAA Chapter 5 attended, Connor said.
• Increasing or stable membership.
• Offering IMC or VMC programs, which are safety programs where pilots come together to talk about what may have led to accidents that have already happened and how they can be avoided, Connor said.
• Participate in the Young Eagle or Flying Start programs.
“If you’ve been around the airport, we run this program at least once a year where we give young kids an orientation on the flight and take them for a ride,” Connor said.
• Has an EAA-certified flight advisor or technical advisor.
• Participates in the EAA’s annual chapter membership survey.
• Participate in the Young Eagles Build and Fly program, Young Eagles workshops or sponsor children at EAA’s Air Academy.
“We sponsor kids at the Air Academy, which is a separate camp that headquarters runs in conjunction with our annual fly-in and convention, which is a huge air show in Wisconsin,” Connor said.
Chapters must also use the headquarters program called ChapterBlast, which allows chapters to send information beyond their local chapter, own or lease a facility, and hold at least two public events each year.
“We do a few flights at our own airport in Middlefield,” Connor said.
There is also additional credit activity that Chapters can participate in, such as a Chapter Building Project, Youth Building Project, Chapter Scholarship, Chapter Tool Nursery, or IAC Contest.
According to the EAA, each of these criteria that a chapter has met is worth one point. Each chapter has the opportunity to earn up to 10 points. In January of each year, chapters scoring at least seven out of 10 will be publicly recognized by the EAA. Bronze is seven points out of 10, silver is eight out of 10 and gold is at least nine out of 10.
Connor has been involved with the EAA since 1984 and has served as Chapter 5 President for the past few years. For Connor, the main reason people are involved in the chapter is people, he said.
“People in the aviation world are fabulous,” he said. “They are wonderful, kind and generous people who are humble, but accomplish a lot of interesting things if they are interested in aviation. For me, it’s meeting the great people who make up the world of aviation. They are my friends, acquaintances and associates.
EAA was founded in 1953 with the intention of supporting men who build their own planes, Connor said. Since then, the organization has grown.
“We started with a dozen guys in Wisconsin and now, 60 years later, it’s grown into an organization of about a quarter of a million people around the world and now there’s a lot of women involved,” did he declare.
The EAA is organized into about 1,000 chapters worldwide, including about 900 in the United States, Connor said. Chapter 5 currently has 110 members.
“I’m proud of all the members who make this possible,” he said. “Active and committed members of the chapter are the people who bestow this award.”
For those interested in becoming an EAA Chapter 5 member, they can contact Connor at 440-836-3225 or [email protected] The chapter meets every third Monday at 7 p.m. at the Geauga County Airport in Hangar 3, located at 15421 Old State Road.
“We would like to represent all walks of life – all genders, ages and interest levels,” Connor said. “If you are interested in aviation, we have something for you.”