Members of the Naval Air Station Lemoore Flying Club stand in front of the T-34, one of two planes they use to train up-and-coming pilots.
The Flying Club, located in Building 184 on ops side, recently hosted their biannual open house in an effort to increase recruitment. The club has been around since before one member flew a plane currently sitting on the tarmac in 1959.
New members’ eligibility is based on their affiliation with Department of Defense. Anybody who is active duty, a dependent, retired, reserves, or a DOD civilian is eligible for entrance.
The club serves two purposes, said Jesse Wahallon, club vice president. The first is to provide recreational flying opportunities for those with pilot’s licenses. The other is to train those who do not have pilot’s licenses.
The flying club uses two planes. The first is a Piper Warrior, which every student learns on. Once the student logs enough flight hours, they will be permitted to fly the second plane, a T-34.
“Our goal is to demystify what it takes to fly; costs and requirements. We’re up front about the costs,” said Wahallon, who says the two biggest things that get in people’s way are health and finances.
Even though health issues are rare, he recommends that those interested in flying get checked out by medical first.
Finances are usually the biggest dissuader for those looking to take part in this niche hobby. A pilot’s license can cost anywhere between $8,000 and $13,000, said Wahallon.
Time may also be a limiting factor for some. Depending on the trainee’s tenacity, logging the required flight hours could take as little as three months, or as long as a year.
However, for those already thinking about getting their pilot’s license, Naval Air Station Lemoore’s prices are cheaper than many off-base private options, said Wayne Anderson, current member of Lemoore’s Flying Club.
Anderson, who is a former commander with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, listed some of the club’s other features: such as the safety consciousness of the team, the well-maintained, cheaper rates and, again, the valuable safety saying.
“Our primary concern is safety,” he said.