Manitoulin East flying club taxiing on the runway

The Young Eagles program at the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport in 2019.

TEN MILE POINT – Interest in the formation of a flying club at the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport is strong, leading organizer Andy Atchison to set up an online portal for the club and begin the process of finding a suitable plane.

“It looks like it is a go,” said Mr. Atchison. “We have enough people expressing an interest that we are going to move forward.”

Mr. Atchison, acting manager of the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport and a pilot himself, began the process of gauging interest by setting up a series of meetings at the airport where interested parties could gather and discuss what form a flying club might take. The flying club is an extra-curricular activity for Mr. Atchison and is not officially affiliated with the airport, as such, but the plan is to base the club out of Manitoulin East Municipal Airport to complement a similar club based at the Gore Bay airport.

“I think this will be a great benefit for the airport,” said Mr. Atchison. “It has the potential to be a real win-win for everyone, given that it will increase activity at the airport.”

Mr. Atchison has already sourced a ground school instructor from the Collingwood area who is willing to come up to provide instruction.

“He has his own plane, so he can pretty much come up pretty quick,” said Mr. Atchison. 

The plan, at present, is to have those wishing to take the ground school course take the online ground school courses to start. “Then he will come up and, say, ‘this week we are going to do clouds’ and take the students through everything they need to know about clouds,” said Mr. Atchison.

There are still several details to be worked out in the plan such as how much the initial buy-in will be. At present, that number is set at around $3,000, based on the possibility of acquiring a certain plane Mr. Atchison has his eye on. Should that deal not come to fruition, the buy-in amount might be higher. “We also might want to build a bigger reserve, since there may need to be work done on a plane we buy to bring it up to spec,” he said. The yearly fee is expected to be in the range of $750 to cover costs of insurance, aircraft certification and maintenance.

Thanks to a number of experienced aircraft buffs in the mix, the cost of certification and maintenance will likely be less than it would for an individual, given that a lot of the prep work for inspections can be done ahead.

Although the most recent club meeting was cancelled due to rising COVID numbers, Wayne MacDougal has agreed to take on the position of acting chair and Bruce McCullagh has agreed to act as vice-chair until a more formal meeting can be held to nominate and vote on those positions.

“I think it’s great,” said Assiginack Mayor Dave Ham, himself a pilot, who attended the initial meetings for the formation of the club. “There does seem to be a great deal of interest and it will be great for the airport and flying on Manitoulin in general.”

Those interested in learning more about the club are invited to join the club’s Facebook page online by searching ‘Manitoulin East Airport Flying Club (CYEM).’ The page was created for the club by Evan Ashley.

“You have to be accepted to join the page,” said Mr. Atchison, “but that doesn’t take long.”