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New flying club established at Washington-Warren Airport

A new flying club in Washington is seeking to make aviation more accessible and affordable for adults in the area. The Washington Fliers club will have an interest meeting for prospective members Friday at Washington-Warren Airport, featuring a seminar from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association on the benefits of joining a flying club.

According to club President Ted Van Essendelft, Washington Fliers was founded in late June and welcomes experienced aviators and newcomers alike. Just last week, the club purchased its own airplane — a single-engine Piper 140 that will be available for club members to fly.

“The purpose of the club is to give people that are involved in aviation a cheaper way to fly,” Van Essendelft said. “There’s no place to really rent a plane other than Greenville and New Bern and the Washington Airport is just a great airport.”

For novice flyers, the club will provide access to a Certified Flight Instructor, a service that hasn’t been offered in the area for a number of years.

“We won’t be a flight school, per se,” Van Essendelft said. “You’ll have to be a member of the club if you want to go for your license.”

Two tiers of memberships are available. Active members will have access to the club airplane, while associate memberships are available for people who have planes already or who want to get their foot in the door with aviation.

“We’re really hoping that we can start being active in having different seminars and things at the airport to keep people involved,” Van Essendelft said.

For Washington-Warren Airport, airport Manager Earl Malpass says the club is a welcome addition. In the general area, Malpass says there are a good number of pilots who don’t have their own airplanes and who might find the opportunity to fly through the club. For the airport, the more interest in aviation, the more prosperous the facility can become.

“I think it’s an important piece of the puzzle for a healthy airport and a healthy aviation community,” Malpass said of the flying club.

The seminar Friday will be led by Steve Bateman, an AOPA member in charge of helping establish new flying clubs. The event is free to attend and will last from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and will be held at Washington-Warren Airport. To RSVP, visit


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