Club vs Rentals

Club membership falls somewhere between outright ownership and renting from an FBO. There are pros and cons to club membership vs renting. Which option is best for you depends on your circumstances. Below are some considerations.

Insurance

As a member of the Dayton Pilots’ Club (DPC), you become a co-owner of the airplane. You will be covered under the owners’ insurance. If you are renting from an FBO, the owner’s insurance only covers the business owner. You would need a separate renter’s insurance.

Nonprofit

DPC, just like most other flying clubs, is a nonprofit operation. Club officers are volunteer positions with no pay. On the other hand, FBO’s are for-profit businesses. The business owner and staff have to be paid, and all that cost is built into the rental rates.

However, DPC membership requires monthly dues ($135) and initiation fees ($1000). So which one is financially better for you depends on how much you plan to fly. If you are only going to be flying one hour per month, it may be cheaper to rent from an FBO than to join a club.

Maintenance

Club airplanes are generally better maintained than FBO rentals. Think about a rental car. When was the last time you cleaned or took care of a rental car? Rental airplanes go through a lot of abuse, and require more maintenance. All that extra cost is built into the rental price.

Availability

It is fairly common for our club members to take the airplane out on trips for several days or even weeks. The flying minimum is only 1 hour per weekday and 1.5 hr per day on weekends and holidays. Our primary purpose is to give members access to an airplane for personal travel. FBO’s, on the other hand, lose money when their airplanes sit idle. They will be booked back to back for student training. Even if they allow overnight rental, the daily minimum will be pretty high. Typical daily minimum for FBO rentals is 3-5 hours per day, which makes it impractical to make a weekend getaway.

Hobbs vs Tach Time

Most FBO’s (and some clubs too) charge by hobbs-time. This is the time from engine start to engine shutdown. In our club, we use tach-time, which is based on engine RPM. Taxi time, run-up time, and time you spend waiting for ATC clearance will not add up to much. On a typical flight, tach-time is roughly 85% of hobbs-time. The difference could be even greater at busy airports with long taxi times.

Community

We are not just a flying club, we are also a social club. Our monthly meetings are an opportunity to connect with other pilots and their families who share our passion for aviation. You can’t say the same thing about an FBO or flight school where it is strictly a business relationship.

Cost comparison between Dayton Pilots’ Club and a typical FBO rental

Ignoring all other benefits of club membership, we can look what it would cost to fly 5 hrs/month. Assuming you can even find a Cessna 182RG to rent, below is a simplified cost comparison.

DPCFBO
Hourly rate1$175/tach-hr$233/hobbs-hr2
Monthly dues$135$0
Rental insurance$0$175/year
Annual cost for 5 hrs/month$10,545$14,115
1 tach-hr is approximately 85% of a hobbs-hr. 2 Based on published FBO rates.