Just Plane Fun

Flying High With the La Porte Aero Club

Writer / Julie Yates
Photography Provided

La Porte Municipal Airport (KPPO) serves the surrounding area by providing a terminal, hangars, maintenance and a flying school. It is also the location of the La Porte Aero Club, a social club for people who have a common interest in airplanes and flying. The club promotes education and awards scholarships to students interested in furthering their education in the field of aviation. Among its nearly 80 members are pilots, flight instructors, ultralight enthusiasts, plus people who just love airplanes.

La Porte Aero Club

The club, which started in 1976, met for many years in one of KPPO’s hangers. In the early 1990s, members built the current clubhouse. In August of 2021, the successful raffle of a Cessna 172M not only funded scholarships, but also made it possible to renovate the clubhouse facility.

“For many years we raised money by having a pancake breakfast,” says Alan Good, who served as president from 2016 to 2019. “We had it down to a science. We would take in about $2,000 to $3,000, and 75% of that would go towards the scholarships we gave. Then COVID came and we had to raise money another way. Art Schoen, one of the hardest-working members, said, ‘Why don’t we raffle an airplane?’ We were able to secure an airplane that had come into the airport for maintenance.”

The owner of the airplane wanted to sell it and club members asked him how much money he wanted for it. They told him the raffle plans – the owner would receive his asking price and the club could keep any funds raised above that amount. The plane received needed maintenance and refurbishment, and once the repairs were finished, it was offered up in tip-top shape. Word got out on Facebook and spread through the aviation community. People from all over the country including Alaska and Hawaii purchased tickets, and the winner was a man from Phoenix, Arizona.

“As a result, this past year we were able to offer $16,000 in scholarships,” Good says. “Two were for students going to college and others were for vocational training such as maintenance. Our scholarships can be distributed over multiple years with the student receiving money for two years.”

La Porte Aero Club

In addition, the club donates money to KPPO and supports activities the airport sponsors. Support is given to the Aviation Camp. Other airport events such as Trick or Treat at the Scairport are posted on the club’s Facebook page.

Although the raffle was wildly successful, a misunderstanding with the Indiana Gaming Commission transpired, and this year something slightly different is planned. A 1966 Cherokee 180 was donated to the Aero Club. Members have been volunteering their time to repair and rebuild the plane, which will be sold to raise funds. Members hope that someone local will step up and purchase it, and members would like to keep it at the airport.

The club hosts speakers at different times throughout the year. Some are aviation related, such as a woman who flew around the world and a man who advises people on procedures for flying in South American countries such as Costa Rica. Other talks may not be related to airplanes, but rather appeal to listeners’ sense of adventure, such as a bicyclist who drove extensively through Indiana.

Dues are $20 per year. The club publishes a monthly newsletter that can be accessed through the organization’s website. Birthdays, anniversaries, upcoming activities, educational snippets, and even a joke or two are included in each issue. Updates on speakers, get-togethers, fundraisers and other events are posted on the group’s Facebook page. There are monthly meetings, group dinners, an annual Christmas party and a social night each Thursday.

La Porte Aero Club

“We don’t know what our fundraiser for next year will be,” Good says. “We are looking for another project. There are a lot of nice people in the club who just enjoy getting together every Thursday night and shooting pool in the clubhouse.”

The La Porte Aero Club is located at 2002 South 150 West at the La Porte Municipal Airport. For more info, go to sites.google.com/view/laporteaeroclub, or email laporteaeroclub@gmail.com.

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