Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Aero club celebrates 60th year

(U.S. Air Force photo) A group of Airmen gather-round an aircraft at the Aero Club, circa 1951. The Peterson Aero Club celebrates its 60th year of flight training with festivities Oct. 22.

By Margie Arnold

21st Force Support Squadron

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — An aero club is all about flying — safely — so you can get up and fly again the next day, and the next.

An aero club gives people wings to soar, dive, spin, glide and flip for joy. Above the earth, man and machine become one.

When World War II was over, passions about planes and flying remained high. General Curtis LeMay lost several of his friends, veterans who had survived the war, to accidents involving civilian aircraft. One day in 1948, he found some of his officers rebuilding a small aircraft in a hangar at Offutt AFB, Neb. To paraphrase a song, “how ya gonna keep ‘em down on the ground once they’ve been in the air,” LeMay realized a new avenue for pilots was needed.

Wanting pilots to fly right as safely as possible, LeMay started the first aero club in 1951. In that same year, three more sprang up, one of which was the Aero Club at Pete Field.

Flying safety was the top priority of aero clubs — and still is.

“Flying is safe and easy, thanks to our highly trained, competent instructors, supervised and completely regulated by the FAA,” said Greg Cortum, manager of the Rocky Mountain Flight Training Center, a.k.a. the Peterson Aero Club. In fact, Cortum said, Peterson’s Flight Training Center is one of the very best aero clubs in the Air Force and one of the best flight training schools in the world. It is one of the larger aero clubs and, historically, has one of the best safety records, many times better than any civilian flight school.

The first step to becoming a pilot is the private pilot ground school, offered periodically through the year. Or, to see if you would like to become a pilot, the aero club offers a special two-hour introductory to flight training class, which includes one hour of ground instruction and one hour of flight instruction.

This year the Peterson Aero Club celebrates its 60th year of flight training with festivities Oct. 22 (rain date is Oct. 29), that includes flights from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. for $30/seat. Free hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages will be served from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. As a special way to commemorate the occasion, anyone going on a flight will receive a complimentary photo taken of them in or next to the aircraft.

Flights are 30 minutes; children younger than 12 must be accompanied by an adult during the flight. Passengers may not wear shorts or open-toed shoes.

For more information about learning to fly, call 556-4310; reservations are limited.

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