The two living founding members of the Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) were honored at the group’s gathering April 21 at the Sun Lakes Country Club.
Vern Nelson and Al Galvi received plaques recognizing their years of service since helping launch the club in 1996. The other two founding members, Elton Dyal and Sam Doria, have passed away.
Galvi penned a number of articles for the Splash back in 1995, each including a photo of an airplane. One article suggested the possibility of forming an aviation-related organization for Sun Lakes. Plane owners/pilots or aspiring pilots were encouraged to contact Galvi to express their interest in forming such an organization.
Doria and Dyal were among the first to respond to Galvi’s article. Nelson joined the group in January 1996. The four formed the backbone of the club in its formative years.
“Early meetings were very informal, generally consisting of flying enthusiasts sitting around a table telling war stories about their flying experiences,” Galvi recalls. “Occasionally, a hat would be passed for donations to support the club’s expenses, but that was about to change.”
With his corporate background, Nelson introduced many ideas that gave structure and strength to the club. A newsletter was added, by-laws, policies and procedures were developed. Annual dues were established and officers were elected. Monthly gatherings were added with guest speakers on a wide range of aviation-related topics.
Nelson was also instrumental in developing a twice-monthly update available to members electronically. He gleaned the internet for aviation-related articles and happenings from around the country for distribution in his much-anticipated update. This feature was extremely well-received by club members.
Little by little, thanks to the leadership provided by Galvi and Nelson, SLAC evolved from an informal gathering of aviation buffs into an official Sun Lakes organization. Today the club boasts more than 80 members, including more than a dozen who own airplanes. Activities include monthly programs with guest speakers, field trips and breakfast fly-ins to nearby airports.
Additional information on the club is available from Bob Walch at 895-8869 or Gary Vacin at 298-7017 or by visiting the club’s web site at www.sunlakesaeroclub.org.