“This whole area suddenly becomes your backyard,” Flighttime member Sean Rafter said of flying, looking at a map of New England on the wall of a hangar at the Wiscasset Municipal Airport.
Flighttime is a nonprofit and fractional ownership flight club based at the Wiscasset Municipal Airport that offers members the opportunity to fly the club’s 1977 Cessna 172 N plane, as well as flying instruction for those looking to obtain a private piloting license.
The club, which Rafter helped start in 1998 with six other people, currently has 13 members and hopes to see its ranks grow.
The club gives both beginners and seasoned pilots the chance to learn and improve their skills, according to member Geoff McCullen, of Damariscotta.
“You’re always learning; it never stops,” said McCullen, who has been flying for three years and joined the club last year.
“The fun about a flight group is the camaraderie,” he said. “You share the experiences … you share the expenses.”
Members pay dues, and those who are licensed pilots can sign out the plane whenever it is available.
“It’s convenient; it’s available,” said Rafter, who has been flying planes for 55 years. “I’m in it for the joy of flying.”
All of the membership dues and usage fees go directly into maintaining the plane, according to Rafter.
The initial cost to join the club is $4,000, which is returned to the member upon leaving the club.
Members then pay $83.33 per month and $75 per hour when using the plane.
“It’s probably the most inexpensive way (to fly),” Rafter said.
The club meets at the airport on the first Friday of every month at 7:30 a.m.
Another opportunity to meet club members would be to attend the annual hangar party at 3 p.m. Sept. 29 at the airport, according to Rafter.
Even after 55 years of flying, Rafter said he enjoys the perspective that being 1,000-1,500 feet in the air gives.
“(It’s the) same place, but a whole different view of it,” he said. “It’s still a thrill.”