Finding general aviation absolutely anywhere

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One beautiful spring Saturday we decided to drive down U.S. Route 1 to see what we could find. Somewhere very near Princeton I spotted a glider on tow climbing out. The strip was not apparent to the naked eye (this was before tablets and cellphones that could pull up a sectional and show you where you were). We slowed and turned off the highway near where we thought the pair might have launched. A winding road through green fields left us at a hangar with the door half open. Inside that hangar were an ornithopter, a hovercraft, and an assortment of other contraptions that may or may not have broken the surly bonds of Earth (I doubted any of them had ever soared to appreciable heights, though). In the back was a guy artfully repairing a glider wing. We introduced ourselves and asked where we were. And that’s how we found the Princeton Soaring Society (now the Soaring Tigers). That club formed the core of our weekend social life in New Jersey, and before we moved on we were both tow pilots and certificated glider pilots with a lifelong love for the sport.

That was a long time ago, but it taught us a valuable lesson. Aviation clubs are a great place to learn about new areas and meet new friends. We routinely use that information when we decide where to travel for vacation because, frankly, it’s fun to discover new aviation venues all over the world!

Much of recreational flying worldwide comes under the designation of sport aviation. Outside of the United States, many pilots have organized their “rental” flying via aero clubs that vary in their makeup depending on where they are located around the world. One attribute they all seem to have in common, however, is that they are excellent starting points for finding and socializing with aviation-minded individuals.

Start your pre-trip planning with the Fédération Aéronautique International, which supervises international sport aviation competitions and also promotes skill, proficiency, and safety in aeronautics worldwide. The group, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, keeps tabs on aero clubs dedicated to sport aviation. Wherever you are headed, FAI probably has a branch.

Round out your pre-vacation sleuthing by researching AOPA and Experimental Aircraft Association connections around the world. The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) is made up of affiliates from 73 countries, and is administered through AOPA

This post was originally published by AOPA on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.

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