I understand you have questions about Angel Flight West’s (AFW) membership dues policy.
At its inception 30 years ago, Angel Flight West’s founders wanted each volunteer to be committed to our mission and have a stake in the organization. An important component of membership is having all who join pay a nominal application fee of $50 and then, in subsequent years on their anniversary date pay annual dues, currently $35, again a nominal amount. Making a small annual dues payment is a strong indicator — to Angel Flight West and the person joining — that s/he is serious about membership in the organization.
The annual dues allow us to definitively identify and track membership. It provides the mechanism for a pilot to affirm his/her annual commitment to abide by both Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and AFW policies and procedures which provide AFW the means to make a good faith effort to comply with the recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). As a result of several fatal accidents involving other Angel Flight organizations, the NTSB recommended that all volunteer pilot organizations have in place a process by which their pilots affirm currency and compliance with the FARs—what AFW has been doing for years.
As Angel Flight West grew we took on a role not envisioned by the founders: that of a leading Volunteer Pilot Organization (VPO) contributing to the growth of public benefit flying groups across the country as well as general aviation. This support has taken many forms, including providing—at no cost—our Angel Flight Information Database System (AFIDS) to other VPOs and significantly contributing to the recommendations of the NTSB in response to the accidents previously mentioned. AFW’s Command Pilot Orientation and Culture of Professionalism program are serving as a model of how a VPO can educate their members about safety. In addition, completing our Command Pilot Orientation now qualifies a new AFW Command Pilot for FAA Wings Program Credit.
You as an individual can, of course, take a tax deduction for every AFW mission you fly. From a tax-deductibility standpoint, most pilots find the first mission they fly more than offsets the application fee and that one mission a year more than offsets the nominal annual dues. Of course, you should always consult your tax adviser or the IRS to determine and verify what is deductible.
The application fees and dues also partially offset AFW’s cost of processing new members, the clothing item each new member receives, and the cost to produce the Angel Flight West newsletter. In addition, the application fee and the dues themselves are partially tax-deductible by AFW’s status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
In summary, the dues support administrative costs and provide an important link in keeping us in compliance with our safety guidelines as well as go towards the support of other VPOs and general aviation.
Blue skies and tailwinds,
Alan M. Dias