The first EAA Local Chapter was started in 1953, when Ray Stits and a group of like-minded friends got together at Flabob Airport in Riverside, Calif. In the 35 years since Chapter 1 was formed, that number expanded to 500.
As remarkable as that grassroots-level growth was, it pales compared to the last decade. Since 1989, Local Chapters have literally taken off, doubling to about 1,000 today. There are chapters in 21 countries, and these groups represent the varied interests of their membership. Now Vintage Aircraft, Ultralights, Aerobatics and Warbirds enthusiasts have joined the chapters family as well. Chances are, there’s a chapter near you that meets your aviation interests.
Let’s take a look at EAA Ultralight Chapter 75 in North Central Wisconsin in this EAA Chapter Website of the Month presentation. Tom Voss, who has also been an editor of the Chapter newsletter since the Chapter was formed some years back, described the key role served by the site.
“We currently have about 90 members in the club,” said Voss. “Most of our meetings are held in the Wausau area and many of our more distant members are not able to attend regularly. I wanted to create a site that would give all our members a place to keep up on the clubs’ activities and details (beyond the newsletter) and, hopefully, attracts new members as well.
Voss, who is a web developer by profession, is a true believer in communicating through the Internet. “The web is the most liberating and, at the same time, the most uniting discovery of our lifetime. And now that web-ready pcs are priced less than some televisions, no one need be left out.”
The Chapter 75 site, which is updated monthly, has something for everyone, including pages for…
- Adventures – always good to hear what members have been up to.
- Coordinates – GPS coordinates to strips frequented by Chapter members Events – dates, times, locations, etc.
- Join – a paper form to fill out and join Ultralight Chapter 75
- Links – of interest to the ultralighter
- Members – a current listing of all Chapter members
- Newsletters – archives of past newsletters in Adobe PDF format Officers
- Picture Gallery – featuring members’ planes
- Tape Library – a list of the Chapter’s VHS tape library available for checkout
The EAA Chapter Website of the Month designation provides recognition for Web editors who have put significant time and effort into designing and maintaining their sites. We hope that bringing increased attention to EAA’s top Chapter sites motivates other Chapters to continuously think of ways to make their sites better and more valuable to their fellow members.
What makes a good website? Selectors of the monthly and annual awards consider the following and other criteria:
- Promotion of EAA
- Functional value to EAA members
- Marketing Value for attracting new Chapter and EAA members
- Design and presentation
- Quality/timeliness of the content
EAA is moving more and more toward online communications. Ultimately, some things will only be available through the Web, and having a website will become critical for those Chapters wishing to take full advantage of all the benefits EAA has to offer.