CARLSBAD — A group of local pilots have been cleared for take off at Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport thanks to a passionate local flying club — the Pacific Coast Flyers.
For the past 12 years, the Pacific Coast Flyers, or PCF, has been helping local residents achieve their dreams of becoming a pilot. With licensed instructors and a fleet of well-maintained planes on hand, PCF provides an affordable opportunity for pilots to explore the skies above.
“We keep the costs low because we don’t have overhead,” flight instructor Jeff White said. “It’s one of the last affordable places left out of the flying clubs.”
White describes the club as a nonprofit cooperative, where he and two others, Mike Smith and Mike Richardson, volunteer their time to keep the PCF fleet up and running. Their dedication to the club and its members help keep the piloting dream accessible to the community. “We do it because we believe in it,” he said.
Members pay annual dues and rental fees to have access to the fleet of 12 airplanes at both the Carlsbad and Oceanside airports. While PCF strives to keep the planes in top-notch shape, members contribute to the maintenance by keeping a close eye on the planes before and after each flight, White said.
The club has secured a variety of models, including Cessnas and Light Sport Planes, to offer the most options to members. The planes are used for everything from weekend trips to Big Bear and Las Vegas or to teach newcomers how to fly.
“My upside is that I’ve got a place that I can teach,” White said. “I keep musician hours — I work all night and teach in the afternoons.”
People join PCF, also known as “North County’s Flying Club,” for a number of reasons, whether it’s to travel for work or to fulfill a lifelong dream. Members represent both longtime pilots and people who just got their licenses and are working toward different ratings. However, despite their differences, there is one thing they have in common — food.
“Flying somewhere to get something to eat is the greatest pastime,” he said, noting that members often secure the planes to grab breakfast or lunch at nearby airports.
The shared interest of flying and food, among other things, has helped PCF become more than just airplanes for rent — the members consider themselves one big family. Several times a year, the club hosts group outings to take members to places they might not visit on their own, White said.
“This is the way that we can get people energized to go do new things,” White said. “There aren’t a whole lot of places left to do that.”
To learn more about the Pacific Coast Flyers club or flight lesson opportunities, visit www.pacificcoastflyers.org.