Steamboat Springs When Bob Maddox learned to fly at Bob Adams Field in 1978, there were planes to rent and options for a young man who didn't own plane. But that was decades ago, and rising insurance costs have changed all that.
There are no planes to rent in Steamboat Springs. The closest flying school with planes available is on the Front Range, and buying a small airplane costs at least $70,000 -- hardly pocket change for a 20-something who wants to earn a license.
Maddox watched the pilots around him and realized there wasn't much opportunity for young blood to join the local general aviation community.
"I've been an aviation enthusiast forever," Maddox said. "I can't imagine if the opportunity had never been available to me to learn how to fly."
After researching programs at other airports, Maddox started the Steamboat Flying Club LLC with a few a group of interested prospective pilots. The club purchased a four-seat 1978 Cessna 172XP, a perfect plane for students that still has the power to fly fast and make long-distance trips.
The club bought the plane in September. News of the opportunity spread by word of mouth, and the group has seven members. Half of the members are active pilots, and the other half are student pilots earning hours toward their first license.
Maddox would like to see that number increase to 12. If more people join, the club will consider buying a second plane.
Memberships are given to individuals and families and last for the life of the airplane. Individual memberships cost an initial $1,000 to become a part owner of the 172XP. Families pay a $1,500 fee.
Members also pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of insurance and the hangar at Steamboat Springs Airport. Pilots pay an hourly fee to cover gas and maintenance.
"Once you're a member, you can use the plane as if it were your own," Maddox said. The Steamboat Flying Club keeps a Web site at flysteamboat.net, where owners can log on and schedule flying time.
Both Maddox's sons, ages 23 and 26, are pilots, so Maddox bought into the club with a family membership so all three could use the plane.
In Colorado, student pilots can fly at any age, but they must be 16 years old to earn a license.
Beyond people wanting to learn to fly for the first time, Maddox hopes the Steamboat Flying Club will attract older pilots who have let their licenses lapse because they don't have a plane.
"This is a chance for those pilots to get current," Maddox said. "It's a way to get back in."
For more information about the Steamboat Flying Club, call Bob Maddox at 879-7881 or Matt Kotts at 846-4614.