The Honeywell Flying Club, predecessor to the Arizona Blue Sky Flyers, was organized in 1981 by employees at Honeywell's Thunderbird & I-17 computer facility as a component of the Honeywell Employees' Clubs. Ron Riemar who became the first president and designed the club logo as shown here led the organizational effort. Ron was an air tanker pilot in the Arizona Air National Guard and a strong advocate of aviation safety. He insisted on wearing a fireproof jacket when he flew, although he rode his motorcycle without a helmet. Sometimes pilots are hard to understand.
The club received financial support from the Employees' Clubs organization, which enabled it to purchase the ATC-610 "simulator" and equipment such as headsets, survival kits, training videos, etc., which could be checked out by the members and are still available. Honeywell provided a room for the simulator so that club members could use it any time. Subsequently, the simulator was housed at various valley FBOs where it earned a reputation as a curse, since those FBOs all went out of business soon after accepting the ATC-610.
Some of the members had their own airplanes. Most of those who did not own an airplane did their flying with Sunburst Aviation at Deer Valley Airport. They gave club members a special rate on rentals and allowed club instructors to operate freelance. Sunburst also provided facilities for ground schools and a cabinet where we could store the equipment so that it was easily accessible to the membership. The club offered several ground school classes at Sunburst as well as at the Honeywell facility. Flying at DVT was more casual then, and we even were able to conduct spot landing contests on the north runway.
As time passed, financial support from the Honeywell Employees' Clubs dwindled, and when Honeywell sold the computer business to the French company Bull, club members decided it was time to become independent from Honeywell/Bull. After all, nobody thought "Bull Flying Club" was a very good name. The name "Arizona Blue Sky Flyers" was suggested by Betty McColley and unanimously adopted by the club members. Dick McColley designed the current club logo.
We filed our initial Articles of Incorporation in May 1994. Jim Ohlin was club president then. An amendment was filed a year later to satisfy the Internal Revenue Service that we were really just a social club and not a cover for an FBO who didn't want to pay taxes. That was back when some FBOs actually had taxable profits. There are about twenty-four categories of tax exempt (non-profit) corporations, and each has its own set of rules. Our attorney, a club member at the time, picked the category "social club" for us, and it seems to be an accurate description.
Our attorney also developed the waiver that members must sign when they join and again when they renew membership each year. That and the fact that we are a corporation is supposed to limit our personal liability in case of an accident at a club function.
Over the years, members have come and gone but there are a few of the charter members still around. Some of the early members who have moved on are sorely missed but we are also thankful for some of our more recent members who have stepped up to the challenge of keeping the club operating all these years.
Club sponsored trips have taken us as far West as Catalina Island, as far East Albuquerque, South to Patagonia and North as far as Durango Colorado. Other flying activities have included spot landing contests and fly in camp outs. Besides the trips, we seem to be a group, held together by the common bond of flying, who just flat enjoy one another's company. Throughout the year, we hold a number of activities, such as our annual hangar party in May and the Christmas party, that don't involve flying but give us an excuse to get together and have a good time.
One of the most popular of our activities has been the Christmas Airlift to the Navajo Reservation at Window Rock, which has been an annual occurrence for 17 years. On this trip, we each gather up donated food, clothing and toys, load them in our airplanes and fly them to Window Rock to be distributed among the Native American charities there. Dick McColley has been the organizer of this trip each year and its popularity seems to stem from that fact that we get to use our airplanes to do something charitable. Last year we had 18 airplanes make the trip.
In the twenty plus years of the existence of the Honeywell Flying Club/Arizona Blue Sky Flyers, I am sure that there have been bigger clubs than ours but I doubt that there were any that have had more fun!!