Written by Brian Harrison

Introduction…

It has been my privilege to serve on the Boeing Employees’ Flying Club, Inc. Board of Directors in almost every capacity available. Since first coming to the Club in 1987, I’ve worked with many dedicated members to run this Club in a safe and financially sound manner. We’ve all worked to make this an affordable place to fly and learn to fly. During my tenure, I’ve had the chance to completely review and organize the important Club records and throw out superfluous materials. What follows is a compendium of the major events that determined our direction of travel. No effort has been made to discuss herein the usual social activities such as General Membership meetings, Spot Landing and Bomb Drop Contests, or the Annual Hangar Party held in conjunction with the other flying clubs in Wichita. It is often said that, “You can’t know where you’re going until you’ve seen where you’ve been.” Hopefully this will give you insight to our unique background.

Start Machine…Takeoff…Climb…Turbulence…

The Boeing Employees’ Flying Club (Club) was formed on March 13, 1978 when 20 interested employees showed up for the first meeting. The first By-Laws were almost a carbon copy of the Boeing Employees’ Flying Association (BEFA) in Seattle. Insurance was discussed along with where we might keep our aircraft, types of flying, checkouts, instructor qualifications, etc. Two aircraft were proposed for the Club: a Cessna 152 and a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. Wayne Hudson, who called the meeting and the Club’s first President, agreed to purchase a 172 and lease it to the Club, and also stated that 34 members would be needed to purchase a 152. A Boeing attorney helped set the Articles of Incorporation with the State of Kansas and Boeing paid for that service. Plans were set for keeping the aircraft at Fuel & Line Service at Mid-Continent Airport. Boeing offered the Club $300 to get started. We still needed members to join the Club in order get the aircraft.

When we started, Avgas was $0.87 per gallon and instructors’ fees were $6-$10 per hour. Members were expected to purchase a refundable share for $250. Initiation fees were $25/member and $25/member for each additional family member, and dues were $10/month. There was also a minimum charge of $5/month whether you flew or not. In order to start the cash flow, they needed to have the members fly consistently. A new Cessna 152 could be purchased for ~$16,000 and a new Skyhawk for ~$28,000. Initially, members were required to take semi-annual check rides in order to continue to fly the Club’s aircraft.

By April 9, 1978 the Club had 11 members. On that date the Board of Directors (Board) passed a vote to allow Mr. Hudson the necessary cash to purchase our first aircraft, a 1978 Cessna 152, N49868. This aircraft would enter service on April 10, less than a month after the first meeting of potential members and rented for $16/tach hour. On May 14, the Board signed a lease agreement with Mr. Hudson for a 1979 Cessna Skyhawk, N2234E, with a guaranteed minimum of 25 hours/month. We would charge $24/tach hour. The Skyhawk was expected in late August.

By October 1st, the Board elected to start charging flight time from the Hobbs meter (previously we had charged via tachometer readings) and drop the dues to $5/month (temporarily).

By August 1979, economic pressures caused the Club to increase its rates to the following: C-152 to $16.50/hr. and the C-172 remained at $24/hr. Fuel costs had raised from $0.87/gallon to $1.21/gallon. By January 1980, the Board elected to raise the C-172 rate to $26.50/hr.

The Club’s first incident occurred in September 1979 when a member forgot to set the parking brake prior to engine start on N2234E. After engine start, the plane rolled forward into the tie-down chains of another aircraft causing the following damage to 34E: broken propeller, destroyed windshield, and damage to the left wing strut, left wing, left wing flap, and pilot’s door. The other aircraft suffered damage to the stabilator trim tab. 34E was back in service by late October.

By December 1980, the Club had elected to purchase N2234E from Mr. Hudson (he would be the lien holder). Both aircraft had loans outstanding at a local bank.

By March of 1981, the hourly rates for both aircraft were raised to $19.50 and $29.50/hr. By then fuel had risen to $1.80/gallon. At this time the C-152 flew ~40 hours/month and the C-172 flew ~35 hours/mo. and the schedule book was full. Financial pressures were building upon the Club as we owed $4,500 for maintenance and it was obvious that we were now using the monthly dues to maintain the hourly rates. By April, 1981 the rates were at: C-152 = $23/hr; C-172 = $33/hr. To help stimulate more aircraft usage, the Board elected to sell 10-hour block times to members at a 10 percent discount starting in September 1981.

During January, 1981, BEFC had 42 members with six of those being flight instructors. Towards the end of 1981, membership had dropped back to approximately 30. Flight hours had dropped to an average of 29 (C-152) & 25 (C-172). The Club was now having trouble meeting its financial commitments. The Club members voted for a Financial Recovery Plan that raised the monthly dues to $35 (from $10). When members left the Club, they were to be reimbursed the refundable share deposit mentioned above. Cash flow started to show a strain as expenses overtook revenue. $332.74 in the checking account did not look good either. Bank interest rates were running about 18 percent at this time. Subsequently, several members made personal loans to the Club.

By January 24, 1982, the Board approved a motion to ground both aircraft until further notice and put them up for sale at $8,000 (C-152) and $18,500 (C-172). They also set priority for payment of outstanding bills. The following went out to the membership, “Due to the decrease in club membership, late payments, and the lack of participation the BEFC no longer has sufficient income to maintain both aircraft. The two aircraft are therefore for sale…After any aircraft are sold the equity will be used to apply to the club bills.” January 26th, Wayne Hudson resigns his position as Operations officer stating, “I find that being a lien holder on the 172 and having a position on the board has already caused bad feelings among the other board members and accusations of unfairness on my part.” The next day Mr. Hudson sends a letter to the Club President citing the Club’s “unstable financial condition” and as lien holder on N2234E, “…I deem myself insecure and declare all obligations immediately due and payable.” He gave the Board until February 4th to payoff the loan in full.

An emergency General Membership Meeting occurs on January 27, 1982, with a quorum of members present, a motion was made to refinance both aircraft and use a recently received Boeing stipend of $1,000 to pay assorted bills. The aircraft would stay grounded for the short term. A new membership drive was also initiated to gain 10 to 15 members by June 1st. If at any time the membership dropped below 25, then N49868 would be sold.

On February 6th, Chris Foster (President) and Andrew Gayer (Treasurer) obtained a loan at Rose Hill State Bank at 17 percent interest for 60 months in order to satisfy Mr. Hudson and the other bank. Immediately, both aircraft were back on flying status. Within two weeks, the Board decided to lower the hourly rental rates to $25 (C-172) and $20 (C-152). It is interesting to note that up to this point, the Board had not been enforcing the 10 percent late payment penalty clause of the Rules of Operation (rules). One member owed over $600 and was not being aggressively pursued for payment.

The Slow Climb Back…

By May 6, 1982, the Club only had 27 members and we needed more than 33 to break-even financially. Still the membership numbers languished. By September, the Club only had 20 members and a letter was sent out stating, “The club is financially current at this time but the negative cash flow will create problems and we will still owe several ex-members their deposit refunds.” Later in September, the Board started looking at selling the aircraft with the intent to lease back, or through some arrangements, become a subset of the McConnell Aero Club (effectively terminating the BEFC). Through a series of special Board meetings and a general membership meeting, the Board sent on October 11, 1982, a “solicitation for Request for Purchase (RFP) from the members.” The RFPs were to be in writing, in the hands of the BEFC President by COB October 20. The Board held the right to reject any and all RFPs. Nothing acceptable came of the RFPs and Board meeting minutes of November 3, 1982 indicate that there had been one call from the advertisement of the 172 in the Wichita paper. The membership dwindled to 19 members, accounts payable of $2,155, accounts receivable of $2,351. Additionally, the Board elected to drop the $250 deposit in order to encourage new members. If there was any good news to report, it was that there were only five payments left on the C-152. Budget planning for upcoming 1983 indicated that the Club needed to have more than 31 members to break-even financially.

A new Board was seated on January 1983 and from the retained information some improvements started to appear. By July the Club had 31 members and the financial reports started to look better. 1983 ended with 43 members. In an effort to keep members the Board asked the membership to vote on a sliding dues structure proposal where, if we had more members, they would pay a reduced monthly dues; this passed. There was talk of adding a third aircraft because of ongoing scheduling concerns.

1984…

1984 started with the Club in a better position than the year before. Analysis of needs revealed that the Club was not yet in a position to buy or lease another aircraft. By March, the C-172 (N2234E) was at 1680 hours and was in serious need of an engine overhaul. The Board elected to take out a $6000 loan from Rose Hill State Bank to finance the engine overhaul. The rings did not seat properly and within a few months N2234E was back in the shop. By July, the C-152 was also in for an engine overhaul when it was learned that there was a shortage of exhaust valves for this type of engine. In July, the Club was able to lease another C-172, N3089E, for members to fly at $33/hr. (versus our $25/hr.). They were also looking for another C-152 to lease. By August 13, the Board had to raise hourly rates on our two Club-owned aircraft to $24.50 (C-152) and $29.50 (C-172). One thing the Board started in September 1984 was to hire a bookkeeper/financial advisor in the person of Lonnie Vaughan, the former manager of the Cessna Employees Flying Club. (Ed. Note: Lonnie’s advice and counsel have been invaluable in the 22 years he has served us. He set in place standard business reports such as Balance Sheets, Income Statements, and Cost of Aircraft tracking sheets for the Board to examine each month.) By October 1, we were able to lease a C-172, N733XW, again at the rate of $33/hr. In December; we were able to lease a C-182RG, N9178C, which was available to members (after meeting Club minimum and FAA requirements) for $52/hr.

1985…

1985 saw the leased aircraft, C-172, N3098E, being removed from service in March. Board members also went to Topeka for the purpose of arguing in favor of a tax exemption for the two aircraft we owned. By April, BEFC had leased our first low wing aircraft a Piper Cherokee 180, N5173S which rented for $39/hr. Since the State decided to assess an annual property tax of $800 on N49868 and N2234E, the Board raised hourly rental rates to: C-152 = $25; C-172 = $31; and C-182RG = $59. In July, a member ran the C-182RG off the end of the runway at Beaumont, KS with two passengers on board (no one was injured). The aircraft was eventually totaled. The incident caused the Board to immediately prohibit Beaumont for use by Club aircraft. By October, 1983 changes came to our fleet in that: we ended the lease on the Cherokee 180 due to lack of use; a Cessna 210 (Centurion), N1609X, was leased and rented at a rate of $73/hr.

1986…

1986 started with the Club leasing a Cessna 172RG (Cutlass), N107JB, that would rent for $48/hr. In February there was another minor incident where the propeller of N2234E was damaged while taxiing in snow at Mid-Continent. By June, BEFC and the other employee flying clubs working with the local ATC folks defined the territorial limits and operating limitations for a “West Practice Area”. The area would simplify procedures for training operations within this area while providing increased safety from Wichita ATC. By August 1986, the State of Kansas had granted our request for tax exemption on the two aircraft that the Club owned and also refunded the $800 paid in 1985. This along with a 97 percent increase in liability insurance rates caused the Board to adjust hourly rental rates as follows: C-152 = $28: N2234E = $36; N733XW = $38; C-172RG = $55; and C210 = $82. By year end, the Club learned that the leaser of C‑172, N733XW, was thinking about selling the aircraft.

1987…

In March of 1987, Our Club was 10 years old. N2234E was taken to El Dorado Airport to be totally repainted and a new Airtex interior installed. It was back in service by May and sported a red-white-blue paint scheme similar to Boeing’s Commercial test aircraft. Remember those refundable deposits? As the Club’s financial condition had improved over the previous several years, it had made a reasonable attempt to payoff those that had been outstanding the longest. During the March Board meeting, it was decided that all remaining deposits would be paid off. By July, the Board decided to purchase N733XW via a 60 month loan. Also in July, a member had a hard landing in (you guessed it) N2234E which damaged the nose gear, prop, and firewall. To add insult to injury, the aircraft’s tail was damaged while being transported to Westport for repairs. In August, both C-172s started renting for $38/hr. A newsletter article from the same month indicated that cash flow was becoming a problem due to late/delayed payments from members.

1988…

1988 started off uneventfully. By April, the owner of N107JB (C-172RG) had sold the aircraft and it was no longer available to the Club. The Board then decided to start searching for a C-182RG to replace the departed aircraft. During the spring, a contest was held among the membership for design of the Club logo. The logo you see today is from that competition. By June, the Club was leasing a C-177RG, N50016, at an hourly rate of $52 to our members. By September the Club had paid off N733XW, substantially ahead of schedule. The following appears in the July 1988 BEFC Newsletter, “After a lengthy appeals process and a state tax law change, BEFC was granted an exemption from state property taxes for the years 1985-1987. This amounted to $2700.” Up to this point, the leased C-210, N1609X, was only getting an average of 2 hours/month put on it, so the owner decided to remove it from lease with us. With this aircraft’s departure we again started a search for a C-182RG.

1989…

1989 started with the owner of the C-177RG, N50016, served notice of lease cancellation. In March the Board voted unanimously to purchase a C-182RG, they just hadn’t found it yet. In June, a Cessna C‑182RG, N5480S, was located through Cessna Finance. After some negotiations for the owner to repair minor problems the Board voted to purchase the aircraft. (Ed. Note: It’s still in the fleet today, except you know it as 747BF. More about the number change later.) A rental rate of $58/hour was set in place. In December a member had a wingtip hangar rash incident while putting N5480S into a hangar at Ellsworth, KS. The rest of the year was uneventful and our financial position was considered good.

1990…

We started 1990 with 45 members and a total liability & net worth of ~$132,000. Flying and Club business ran well for the first half of the year, but by July our financial advisor was cautioning us to not get overzealous on aircraft enhancements that we were putting in place. In June, Boeing approached the Club about providing instructors for a full-up, off-shift FAA Private Pilot ground school. With the help of Steve Martz, we were able to assemble the necessary materials and start the class by Fall 1990. (Ed Note: Instructors of BEFC have been teaching the class ever since. In 1999, Boeing decided it did not wish to be in the off-shift teaching business and handed our Private Pilot Ground School over to Cowley Co. Comm. College. In the Fall of 2008, Cowley Co. Comm. College handed both the Private Pilot and Instrument Pilot Ground School Programs over to the Wichita Area Technical College (WATC). Our instructors are now adjunct instructors for this program. By July, the Club had spent over $11,000 YTD for maintenance on the aircraft and this was becoming a concern. In August we were approached by the Cessna Employees Flying Club about holding an annual Party between all the flying clubs in town. (Ed. Note: This was the start of the Hangar Party which is still occurring every year.) By September, world events started to drive up the cost of our flying – the Iraqi Oil Crisis (and subsequent Desert Storm Military Operation) appeared on the scene. The Board was forced to raise hourly rental rates because of increasing fuel costs ($2.10/gallon). The new hourly rates were: C-152 = $30; C-172 = $40; and C-182RG = $62. In an October annual N5480S, our C-182RG, was discovered to have a crack in a main landing gear pivot and was leaking hydraulic fluid. The repair for this cost over $2500 and of course occurred at a time when the Club finances could have looked better. In November the Board elected to install a “Mattituck Zero Time” engine in N49868 – another $8735 we wished we did not have to spend. By year end BEFC was cash poor. We ended the year with 55 members.

1991…

The President and VP started to look for ways to quickly improve the cash flow. After some research, they convinced the Board to move from our old FBO (Air Center 1, formerly Fuel & Line) to Ryan Aviation Corp. on the north end of Mid-Continent Airport by February 1st. The $0.38/gallon savings to our fuel price was immediately recognized in our cash flow. There were also security issues at the old FBO that we would not have to contend with at the new one. We undertook more recruiting opportunities by making BEFC pamphlets more readily available across the Boeing campus along with a “promotional” spot on BTV. The Board started taking a more aggressive approach to collecting bad debts from our members who were not prompt with their payments. By July, the membership adopted revision “C” to the By-Laws that made the governance of the Club easier and took us away from the old mindset we initially inherited from the Seattle BEFA. By August, an infraction by a Club instructor (giving flight instruction to a non-BEFC member, who was also a foreign national high school student) highlighted the urgency of getting the Rules of Operation in compliance (a process that would take another 10 months). By December, we were installing an STC on our Skyhawks to increase the maximum gross weight by 100 pounds. We put in place a practice of under-fueling the C-152 by 10 gallons in order to have 60 pounds more useful load. Cessna asked us to allow N5480S be a proof-test fit airplane for a new style rear seat shoulder harness during December. Our bookkeeper started using a computerized system for billing (software/computing systems were just starting to be capable at this time). By year end our membership was at 67.

1992…

Cessna asked us to allow N733XW be a proof-test fit airplane for new style engine and fuel gauges during February. By March, we had a new interior installed in N5480S. Revision “F” to the Rules of Operations was released to the membership in May. The Rules Committee had spent many long hours “wordsmithing” this document in order to make the rules more equitable for all members while giving the Board more administrative/enforcement powers against those who would be less than forthright with the Club. In June, our fleet received minor hail damage before the line crew was able to get them in the hangar. Also in June, N733XW was involved in an FBO ground handling accident at KC Downtown Airport. It was repaired by the FBO and placed back in service by July. On July 24, N733XW was involved in another incident; this time the pilot did not use carburetor heat during a long decent into the Wichita area and learned what carburetor icing is all about. He landed the aircraft at night in the plowed field just east of Mid-Continent airport adjacent to the Big Ditch south of Kellogg. Fortunately, there was no damage or injuries. Again in September, N733XW was involved in a hard landing incident at Newton that damaged the prop and nose gear/firewall. The amazing thing is that the student pilot was oblivious to the damage he had caused and flew the aircraft back to Mid-Continent! N5480S, our C-182RG was paid off in December. Membership was ~73.

1993…

The Club purchased a pager for the Operations officer to carry in order to facilitate a faster response to addressing maintenance squawks (Ed. Note: This has since been discontinued due to cell phones becoming available.) In July, a wind storm hit Mid-Continent and caused damage to many planes. N49868 received damage to the left wing leading edge (minor repair), N733XW was not damaged, N2234E had damage to the rudder and wing, and N5480S had a nearby C-152 blew over on top of it, completely crushing the tail cone/empennage aft of the baggage compartment bulkhead and damage to the wing’s upper surface. N5480S was repaired at a shop in Greeley, Colorado and returned to service in late August as N747BF. We installed our first GPS unit (VFR) in N747BF when it returned from Colorado. It is interesting to note that Boeing had massive layoffs in 1993, but the Club was able to stay financially healthy, fleet hours were up, and we ended the year with 73 members.

1994…

With membership slowly growing and our finances in good shape, it was becoming obvious that we were in need of another aircraft. By April the Board surveyed the membership as to what they would like. The response came back they we should seek a low-wing 180HP aircraft. A search committee was formed and by May we had purchased N8316M, a Piper PA28-181. Another change in April; Ryan (our FBO) was purchased by Executive Aircraft Corp. The new management told us that, “We don’t want those little airplanes around.” So after a quick review of Wichita area FBOs, we moved our operations to Yingling Aircraft at Mid-Continent. For reasons unknown, the usage of N49868 was falling off. We ended the year with 81 members.

1995…

In March, a revision to the By-Laws was forwarded to membership for eventual approval. It encompassed items that an over-zealous Boeing Recreation manager wanted to see in the various recreation club by-laws. (Ed. Note: These Boeing requested items were expunged in 2005 with Rev. G to the By-Laws.) Now that we were at Yingling we had access to their wash area/equipment. We started teams of wash crews (members who wished to participate) and once-a-month all aircraft were washed and interior cleaned during the summer months. The teams would usually completely clean an aircraft in 45 minutes. In June, eight members jumped in a van and headed for Mike Moroney Aeronautical Center in OKC for the purpose of taking “High Altitude Training” in the center’s altitude chamber. By mid-year, Boeing was offering a “Golden Handshake” retirement package to older employees and there was some uncertainty about how many members were going to stay with the Club. By September our fleet hours were down by 30 percent (vs. the year prior). By October, the Board elected to raise the dues to $40/month (1/2 of that if you flew more than $200/month), and raised the hourly rental rates as follows: C-152 = $32; C-172 = $42; C-182RG = $62, and PA28-181 = $50. Because of reduced usage N49868, our original Club aircraft, was advertised for sale by late October. The sale of one of our C-172s was discussed. N733XW was the aircraft we decided to sell due to appearance issues. N2234E was in need of another engine overhaul. Membership was still at 81.

1996…

Overall this was a very quiet year with operations proceeding more-or-less normally. On September 9, N49868 was sold to Christensen Aviation in Tulsa. In October, fuel prices increased 11 cents to $1.88/gallon. Membership was down to 79.

1997…

January started with the Club formally putting N733XW for sale. Boeing had instituted a new policy of reimbursing private pilot students $500 for when they solo and $1000 when they obtain their Private certificate. (Ed. Note: At the time of this writing in early 2006, Boeing still has this policy.) In January, the Club moved all of its financial accounts to Boeing Wichita Credit Union. February had N2234E being repaired for an induction fire as a result of over-priming. With April came the news that we had sold N733XW to the Seattle BEFA. During the spring, an aircraft search committee looked for a “younger” C-172 to replace 3XW. By June we had purchased N5221E. July saw a Special Board Meeting open to the membership relative to retention of N8316M in our fleet. It was in need of an engine overhaul and had not seen a lot of hours in the previous year. The Board elected to keep 16M and start the search for a different engine. We had 91 members by year end.

1998…

In February/March a new engine was installed on N747BF. By May N2234E was involved in another incident. This time the line boys at Yingling tried to tug it out of the parking area while still being tied down – oops! Yingling had the aircraft disassembled and sent to the repair FBO in Greeley, CO for repair. While at Greeley, we had them apply a new paint job similar to the ones being delivered by Cessna at the time. During the early part of this year, BEFC was able to establish our first website. By June, membership reached 100 for the first time in our history and the number of flight hours was on a record pace. July saw us purchase another C-172, N5898E. By December, increased bird activity around Mid-Continent precipitated two bird strikes to N747BF and N5898E. This year saw the highest number of fleet hours at 2,188 total and 105 Club members by the end of the year. These truly were good times, but another round of layoffs at Boeing was about to occur.

1999…

N2234E received a new interior during February. N8316M had the front seats rebuilt and new carpet installed. In April, we retired the loan on N8316M. By August, the Board saw the fleet hours and membership falling behind the previous year’s pace. Again discussions occurred to sell N8316M, but that was defeated. On October 1, the hourly rental rates were increased to: C-172s = $44; C-182RG = $68; and PA28-181 = $53. The Board tried to stimulate more flight hours by selling blocks of flight time at the prior rental rates for a period of one month. Rising fuel and insurance costs and lower fleet hours were taking their toll on our cash flow. By November we elected to start installing “standby vacuum systems” in our fleet for safety reasons. By year end, our financial footing had stabilized, we had 102 members, but fleet hours were down by 27 percent compared to the year before. This was suspected to be due to more potential layoffs and labor disputes at Boeing.

2000…

A contest was held early in the year to give a formal name to the previous BEFC Newsletter. Today we still use the BEFC Beacon as our official Club newsletter. By mid-year Yingling Aircraft was bought out to become Yingling Aviation. Yingling informed the Club that it would no longer be able to provide us the fuel discount that we had enjoyed since 1991 and that other services that used to be free would now cost us. A committee studied other FBO operations in the Wichita area (again) and the decision was made to move the Club’s operations to Augusta Municipal Airport on August 1. Augusta was happy to welcome us and also provide a fuel discount (if we purchased fuel in blocks). The move helped the Club avoid another increase in rental rates. In November we were able to rent a hangar at Augusta for N747BF and assorted Club materials. This was the first time we had use of a hangar. At year end, our fuel cost was $1.94/gallon and we had 112 members, but fleet hours were down 10 percent from the prior year.

2001…

The year started well enough as the Board decided to stop mailing rosters and the BEFC Beacon to members to save time and paper. They were made available on the web page for those with internet access. Of course we would mail those to members without internet access. By March the membership had voted another revision to the By-laws which helped us stay more in line with Kansas state laws. Subsequently, the Board also revised the Rules of Operations to agree. By May N2234E had suffered another hard landing incident resulting in damage to the firewall and nose gear (again, ~$10,000). N747BF also had a prop strike due to retraction of the landing gear on roll out which required a new prop and engine teardown – it was out for 2 months (~$24,000). After the engine teardown, it was decided to install a lower time engine in the aircraft vs. repairing the prop strike affected engine. In May and June we had 19 members join the Club, but seven resigned in the same period. Costs for insurance, fuel, and maintenance were increasing again. By August, all dues were set at $40/month due to a very large increase in the insurance premium. (Ed. Note: This was an industry wide situation during this time, not because of our safety record.) Cash flow showed some strain because in one month 17 members were past due on their payment. Then September 11, 2001! General Aviation like everything else was restricted due to the events of that day. Boeing immediately announced another 20-30 percent layoff of employees. These two events started to affect cash flow although the flight restrictions were lifted fairly soon after. By October, we had 27 accounts past due! By November, five members had asked for Leave of Absence and nine more resigned or were terminated from membership. Membership for the year ended at approximately 120 members.

2002…

In March of 2002 N747BF had a new Garmin 430 IFR GPS, transponder, and audio control panel installed to make this a true IFR Cross Country aircraft. To help cover the cost of the enhancements, the hourly rental rate for the C-182RG went up to $75. By May, to cover the increasing costs of operations, the Board raised hourly rental rates on the other aircraft too; the C-172s = $50, PA28-181 = $60. Starting with this rate increase, the Board decided to set aside $5/hr for aircraft enhancements. The purpose of this enhancement account was to upgrade paint, interiors, avionics, and generally to keep our aircraft becoming “ramp dogs” according to the BEFC Beacon. August saw another 10 percent increase in our insurance rates. Membership ended the year in the mid 120s.

2003…

Early 2003 found N2234E grounded as the engine case bearing had spun and the camshaft and tappets failed. About two-thirds of the repair cost was born by the manufacturer. Tragedy struck on February 14, 2003. A VFR pilot member was on a return trip from OKC in N5898E and flew into IMC near the KS-OK border. With 200 foot ceilings (estimated), low visibilities, turbulence (due to a cold front passage), and darkness, the pilot became spatially disoriented and was killed as the aircraft crashed southeast of the Wellington, KS turnpike interchange. This was the first fatal accident BEFC had experienced in its 25 year history. It was a very gloomy time for the BEFC. By May, the Board elected to allow flights back into Beaumont, KS, but only in C-172s. In November, we had a new leather interior in N747BF (which had ink pen marks all over the pilot’s seat cushion three weeks after returning to service). Somehow after the new interior had been installed on 7BF, it showed an increase of 80 pounds useable load! Cash flow and membership remained steady throughout the year.

2004…

February started the year on a down note when a pilot member landed N747BF gear up at Mid-Continent. No one was injured although the pilot’s pride was shaken. Repairs (~$50,000) were made at Yingling since the accident occurred right in front of their facility. The aircraft stayed out of service for three months. Earlier in the year the Board held a survey of membership as to what kind of aircraft we should add to the fleet. The survey indicated that the most desired addition would be a C-182 (straight leg). Through negotiations with Yingling we found and purchased N5087K (C-172) and N182YA (C-182) by March 7. N5087K was made available for use by late March and N182YA would be ready to go in April. The fleet’s insurance premium was expected to be ~$53,000 when it came due in August. Dues were not covering the insurance costs any longer. And the price of fuel was rising again. By July 1, the hourly rental rates were set to: C-172s = $52, C-182 = $72.50, C-182RG = $85, and PA28 -181 = $60. Dues also increased to $45/month. By July, another non-club aircraft (taxiing) lost brake control and chopped into the tail of N8316M, damaging the stabilator and trim tab along with the right flap. August saw our insurance premium at $55,000 to cover the six aircraft in our fleet. In late September six of our members took two of our aircraft to Leadville, CO for mountain flight training. The year ended with membership around 115 (starting to decline) and fuel had risen from $2.08/gallon at the start of the year to $2.52 by year end.

2005…

Speaking of fuel, by April 1, the Board decided that we could not keep reimbursing cross country fuel receipts at face value (as had been our past practice). A new policy was set in place to only reimburse fuel receipts to 50 cents above the current rate we paid at Augusta. (Ed. Note: One bill from New Jersey was almost $5/gallon.) Members were asked to research on the web to find the lowest cost fuel prices when on cross country trips. In May the Club moved our web page to a new server that was operated by one of our members. It was an immense improvement over the previous site. The world price for oil had skyrocketed to above $70/barrel for the first time in history and its effects were felt by everyone. By August the Board was forced to raise hourly rental rates to: C-172 = $56.50; C-182 = $78.50; C-182RG = $93; and the PA28-181 = $65. This was because our fuel cost had risen to $2.99/gallon. N182YA, our C-182 which the Club had purchased just a year and a half before, was put up for sale due to lack of usage and it sold in early October. By October our fuel prices had reached $3.62/gallon and for the second time this year we were again forced to raise the rental rates to: C-172 = $60.50; C-182RG = $101.50; and PA28-181 = $70.50. This started to have an immediate affect on our membership. Fleet hours were down 11 percent (compared to one year earlier) by the end of November. Although fuel came down a little to $3.53/gallon by December, the Board elected to hold the rates at the same level until they could get a clearer picture of how to treat our fuel purchases. During the summer of 2005, Boeing sold off its commercial aircraft unit in Wichita which in turn became Spirit AeroSystems. Since many of the Club’s members would now be working for Spirit, the Board elected to revise the By-Laws to allow Spirit members the same privileges as those who remained working for Boeing’s Integrated Defense System branch in Wichita. By year end the membership had adopted Rev. G to the By-Laws that kept the Club open to those aerospace workers on south Oliver. Revisions to the Rules of Operations were scheduled for early 2006. Due to all of the above issues, our membership decreased and we finished the year with 98 members.