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While the pandemic has certainly created challenges in every walk of our lives, it also has presented some opportunities.
Take the Smokehouse Pilots Club.
Started a few years ago by pilots based at Leesburg Executive Airport (KJYO) in Virginia, the club has grown exponentially, now boasting members from across the globe.
The club started quite informally with a handful of pilots doing some fly-outs and meet ups at a local restaurant, the Smokehouse Live Barbecue.
While that restaurant has since closed — along with two others the club frequented for its meetings — the Smokehouse Pilots Club is going strong, with more than 1,500 members from around the world, reports Gabe Muller, chairman.
Gabe Muller and his girlfriend Adrienne.
The club really took flight in May 2017 when Muller created a Facebook Group for the club.
“It just started taking off to the point where more and more pilots started getting involved,” he says. “Keep in mind that this is a social club — a small flying club without an airplane. But a lot of members have airplanes, so they would use their planes to go on the fly-outs.”
A member takes flight before the pandemic.
Growth continued, with the weekly in-person get togethers at a local restaurant for a meal and a speaker.
Then the pandemic hit.
“It’s been really interesting, but I will tell you that, probably like many other businesses thinking COVID would be a detriment to things, it actually has injected a ton
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