A brief History of the Aero Club of Metropolitan Atlanta
The Aero Club of Metropolitan Atlanta was founded in 1984 by Lockheed Aircraft Company Executives and local aviation businessmen. Early meetings were held at the Atlanta Commerce club in downtown Atlanta. Then Georgia Governor and avid pilot George Busby was an active member and the goal of the club was to attract aviation business to the Atlanta area. One notable success was to convince Swissair to begin passenger operations from the Atlanta airport to Europe.
Meetings in the 1990's were smaller and more business meeting like affairs in a conference room setting.The President at that time was Guy Hill Jr. who is now President of Hill Aircraft at Fulton County Airport. Some were lucky enough to attend the meeting when Guy had Famous Flying Tiger pilot and "God is my Co-Pilot" author General Robert L. Scott as an animated and inspiring speaker at the Commerce Clubdowntown.
In the late 90's, meetings were held at the Atlanta Financial Center buildings on Peachtree near Lenox malland Highway 400. The President at that time was Computer Consulting Wiz David Black. David specialized in preparing businesses for the much publicized Y2K computer software upgrade.
In 2000, the Aero Club had languished for several months with membership dropping and no events when Mike Pickett of Wachovia Aircraft Services took the helm and re-established the club as a going proposition. Mike was able to bring the key members bang in and resume the luncheon meetings at "Petit Auberge" Restaurant at Toco Hills shopping center, then later at The Capital City Club Mike hosted Sergei Sikorsky at a heavily attended meeting as Sergei told the story of the invention of the Helicopter by father Igor and history of Sikorsky aircraft.
With interest increasing Steve Champness became President in 2001 and carried on with the rebuilding ofthe club. Steve was able to attract top level speakers and one of the largest attended meetings was with Piper Aircraft Company President Charles (Chuck) Suma for his talk about the history of Piper and what the future held for aircraft design. After 2 years of growth Steve passed the baton to prominent Atlanta Attorney and avid Pilot Don Andersen as President.
Don presided over the Club and continued attracting top level speakers. One of the most memorable meetings featured Brian Moss, President of Gulfstream Aerospace at a heavily attended meeting. Don was also instrumental in forging a relationship with Mr. Hollis Harris, President of World Airways.
Steve Champness then was asked to return to the Club as President in 2004. The club has continued togrow and is now recognized by the NAA as one of the largest and most active "Aero Clubs" in the United States. Membership is currently near 250 individual and business members from the Atlanta area.
Meetings are scheduled on a bi-monthly basis and are still held at the prestigious Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta. Attendance now averages between 80-120 members and guests at the luncheons. Luncheon meetings are now held in the Grand Ballroom on the third floor of the club. National Aeronautics Association President Jonathan Gaffney is a regular attendee and great supporter. Speakers now come from places such as Wichita, Arizona, Orlando or New Mexico to speak to the Atlanta aviation community.