Whiteman Aviation Club: Inspiring Airmen to take flight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Parker J. McCauley
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The Whiteman Aviation Club met to plan and elect a new president on July 13, 2019, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

The club aims to provide total force Airmen and their dependents an opportunity to explore the world of aviation and work toward earning their pilot’s license. The club could potentially bolster pilot recruiting.

 The Club

Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewis, an aerospace ground equipment technician with the 509th Maintenance Squadron and the outgoing president, founded the club in November 2018 but it has been operational since January 2019.

“I started taking flying lessons last spring and a lot of the airmen in my shop showed interest and were asking questions about it,” said Lewis.

He took it upon himself to research everything and found an instructor.

“I started the club with the goal of helping airmen by providing information, training resources and building an aviation community for the base,” said Lewis. “From there I spoke with a flight instructor out of Sedalia to provide members with lessons and aircraft. Once everything was in place we filed all the paperwork with the state and the IRS and signed up our first official member in January of 19.”

The club held an early election during their meeting because Lewis received orders to leave Whiteman AFB after being stationed here for 10 years.

Master Sgt. Michael Vallejo, the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) support section chief with the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron, became the new president of the club.

Vallejo said his incentive flight in the B-2 helped spark his interest in aviation that lead to him joining the club.

 Following the election he spoke to club members and highlighted major goals of the club.

“We’re working on becoming a 501(c) (3) non-profit charity so that once we start our fundraising efforts we can help folks who are dreaming about aviation,” said Vallejo. “Get them flight lessons, basically scholarships or grants to help them learn how to fly.”

 The club does a variety of fundraising activities, such as car washes, to continue to allow them to fly and work towards their other long term goals such as purchasing an aircraft.

 Senior Airman Michael Rosa, a conventional maintenance technician with the 509th Munitions Squadron and the club’s vice president, said that purchasing aircraft for the club would lower club membership costs.     


Vallejo brought his personal flight simulator to the meeting in order to help members of the club gain a better understanding of the instruments and handling of the aircraft.

In the simulator, club members learn how to operate aircraft controls and gain extra insight on the aircraft without ever leaving the ground.

“Currently we have instructor pilots that are supporting us that are more than willing to provide our members flight lessons and right now it’s just the 152 and the 172 that the instructors provide for us,” said Vallejo.

The two aircraft the club members fly in the most are the Cessna 152 and the Cessna 172. Both aircraft are small trainers with wings located high on the fuselage. The 152 is the smaller of the two with only two seats while the 172 has four.

Vallejo said due to the unique mission of Whiteman AFB the club can’t operate on the base’s runway so they commonly fly out of the Sedalia Regional Airport in Sedalia, Missouri.

Chas Perkins, an instructor pilot with Hangar Flying Limited Liability Company (LLC) located in Warsaw, Missouri, is one of the club’s instructor pilots. He has 18 years of flying experience and describes the 152 as a great little trainer.

Perkins brings Airmen on 30-minute introductory flights during which they gain initial aircraft familiarization.

After their introductory flights, members of the club can partake in more in-depth flight training with an instructor and can even rent out an aircraft for a day.

Getting Involved

Airmen who are interested in joining the club are invited to join the Whiteman Aviation Club Facebook group and visit their website. After joining the group they can attend a quarterly meeting and as a paying member they can get an introductory flight with an instructor to see if they enjoy it.

The club does not require knowledge or prior aviation experience. The club, however, welcomes those with flying experience and aircraft they are willing to rent out in order to give Airmen more opportunity to learn.