Fly Europe with you at the controls!

by Ramsey Farrell
Stripes Europe

Aero Clubs play a significant role in military communities around the world. Whether it’s to provide morale and welfare activities, education, recreational flying, search and rescue operations, career advancement opportunities or just a place to come hang out and tell tall tales of flying adventures, one thing holds true…aero clubs give mortal humans looking at the sky an opportunity to get a little closer to fulfilling their dreams.


The Coleman Aero Club (CAC) is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer aviation enthusiast group and approved private organization of the US Army Wiesbaden Military Community. The purpose of the club is to keep flying affordable and obtainable by even those with the most modest of incomes - even high school students with a lot of determination have joined and succeeded at the club! As such, the CAC allows every member to partially own the aircraft and share the costs to operate said aircraft.


Soldiers, civilians and family members alike, earn their private pilot’s licenses, but many join to enhance their military careers. Members seeking to submit Warrant or Commissioned Officer packets for the Army and Air Force directly benefit from club membership. Many retiring Army Helicopter Pilots have logged fixed-wing hours at the club to guarantee post-retirement employment with airlines. Mechanics also join to get behind the controls and obtain much-needed experience to further their goals in the aviation industry.

The CAC also supports the US Air Force’s Civil Air Patrol, providing aircraft for cadet orientation flights and supporting many youth activities to include scouting and local Department of Defense Schools’ Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) clubs with orientation flights and technical briefings.  

Training is conducted under 14 CFR Part 61. This allows contracted Certified Flight Instructors (CFIs) to give instruction on a one-on-one basis at each student’s own personal and financial pace. Many clubs operate this way because it affords maximum flexibility when it comes to self-paced training. 

Yes, anyone can fly, well except maybe pigs, but the CAC itself is only open to Active Duty, Department of Defense Civilians, Defense Contractors and anyone else who falls under the Status of Forces Agreement. Training starts at any age, however solo flight cannot take place until 16 years of age and licensing taking place no younger than 17. To get started aspiring pilots just need to contact a flight school or aero club of their choice and get in the air!

The most obvious advantage of flying with the CAC is the cost. Aircraft user rates are just high enough to just cover the operating costs, meaning members don’t pay for profits like at a Fixed Base Operation or Flying Academy. The CAC does not make a profit, so the savings are passed on to the membership in the form of lower aircraft user fees.

Other advantages include the ability to see Europe from the sky or take an airplane on an overnight trip – or how about camping out under the wing at an air show in the summer? Not to mention availability and presence of flight instructors who are also members. One of the most beneficial parts of joining the CAC is the camaraderie and the educational value of having other pilots and instructors around to answer questions or offer advice. 

Clubs are not just limited to pilot wannabees or even pilots themselves; they welcome anyone who has the slightest interest in flying or socializing. Many clubs are family orientated and most small General Aviation Airports have playgrounds for kids, water bowls for dogs and gourmet restaurants for even the most discerning foodie.

Whether you choose the CAC, a local German flying club or even an aviation academy back in the US, the result will be the same – the opportunity to pursue a passion that Wilber and Orville Wright never even began to imagine. Not even the sky is the limit anymore, but whatever your personal reason is for wanting to get into aviation, your local aero club provides many opportunities for flight training from a Private Pilot’s License (PPL) to an Airline Transport Pilot’s License (ATP) and everything in between.

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