Fellowship in the Sky: Catholic Aviation Group Takes Flight

Combining interests in aviation and faith, the Catholic Aviation Association hopes to build strong communities through inexpensive flight courses.

There’s more to being an amateur pilot than just owning a plane—the community matters too.

That’s the thinking behind the Catholic Aviation Association (CAA), a new nonprofit focused on bringing a social and religious aspect to the amateur aviation space. The Indiana-based group, which just received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, hopes to boost interest in flying—as well as lowering some of the costs involved—by launching a network of flying clubs.

By growing in our faith we will be able to live a more joyful life and present a positive Christian witness in our sphere of influence.

CAA’s Cupertino Aviation Clubs (CACs)—named for St. Joseph of Cupertino, the patron saint of aviation and studying—will aim to provide affordable flying resources and free instruction once they get off the ground. The first one is planned for Carmel, Indiana, this year; the goal is to launch five clubs throughout the state over the next year.

In an interview with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, CAA Chairman and President Tom Beckenbauer noted that the group will allow him to combine multiple loves and skills—something he hopes to share with other interested pilots.

“When I was an ROTC instructor, I got to help young people grow in their personal lives and help show them how they could become successful,” Beckenbauer said. “Through my experience, I saw that aviators tend to be successful people. It occurred to me that I could combine lessons learned in aviation with lessons to be successful in life, with a faith component to it.”

The goal of the clubs, according to CAA, is to keep costs low, partly through the use of standardized, cost-effective planes. Beckenbauer compared his vision for CAA to Women in Aviation, International, a nonprofit group that works to narrow the gender gap in aviation. WAI started in a single location in 1990 and now has more than 10,000 members.

“By joining together in the spirit of solidarity, we can create within the aviation world a central organization to support local communities where we can support each other and grow in our faith,” Beckenbauer wrote in a welcome statement on the group’s website. “By growing in our faith we will be able to live a more joyful life and present a positive Christian witness in our sphere of influence.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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