Chapter 517's New Missoula Hangar (MSO)
Five Valleys Flyers is now the assumed business name for EAA Chapter 517, Inc., which was originally founded in Missoula in 1976 as the "Experimental Aircraft Association, Inc., Western Montana Chapter 517, Missoula, Montana." After a few years of operation, EAA Chapter 517 went dormant until 1995, when 14 members reactivated Chapter 517. In 1999, Chapter 517 was incorporated in the State of Montana as EAA Chapter 517, Inc. At that time, the Chapter applied for and was later granted 501(c)(3), tax exempt status as a non-profit educational organization.
Over the years the Chapter has conducted various educational activities including providing scholarships to aspiring pilots and other aviation professionals. The Chapter has always recognized that it takes more than just pilots for general aviation to be a successful and healthy community.
In 2002, EAA Chapter 517, Inc. had the opportunity to purchase a hangar at the Stevensville Airport and Chapter Headquarters remained there until 2017. With the establishment of the Chapter HQ in Stevensville, the Chapter instituted an unusual meeting schedule by alternating the monthly meeting location between Stevensville and Missoula. That decision allowed for a sharing of the travel burden by the Bitterroot Valley members and the Missoula members.
For the first several years the Chapter met its hangar mortgage obligation by renting space to members for their airplanes in the Chapter hangar and by our monthly pancake breakfasts. It took a lot of hard work to generate enough money to make our mortgage payment each month, but our members stepped up and made it work.
In 2006, the Chapter invested in the establishment of a specialty vehicle license plate, "Fly The Big Sky," as a long term income generator, which eased the financial pressure considerably. The license plate revenue allowed the Chapter to pay off the Stevensville hangar mortgage several years ahead of schedule.
In 2016, the Chapter voted to invest in a new hangar on the Missoula International Airport with the intent to re-establish the Chapter HQ in Missoula. The Chapter leased land from the Missoula Airport and began the planning process for a standalone hangar. We later learned of a hangar condominium project being built near the approach end of Runway 30. After evaluating our original plan and checking into the condo project, the Board of Directors elected to go with the condo project. The result is that the Chapter ended up with a far better facility at a significantly lower price. The Chapter moved into the new facility in June 2017.
In 2018, there were two significant events: the Chapter sold the Stevensville hangar and made a significant pay down on the Missoula hangar mortgage and the Chapter had a name change. There was concern that too many people in the aviation community misunderstood what EAA Chapter 517, Inc. was about so filing for an assumed business name now allows the Chapter to operate under the name Five Valleys Flyers. Too many people thought if you were not an aircraft homebuilder, you were not welcome to EAA. So, though our corporate name remains the same, the Chapter will be known as Five Valleys Flyers.
Five Valleys Flyers membership includes the following breakdowns:
Anyone with an interest in aviation is welcome to join our ranks. Five Valleys Flyers (EAA517) goal is to be the social center of general aviation in the Five Valleys region. Our members range from Superior to Philipsburg and Darby to Arlee.
If you join Five Valleys Flyers, you can expect to have fun and many opportunities to meet and exchange ideas and experiences with others who have an interest in aviation just like you.
Membership application forms can be downloaded here.
Five Valley Flyers Activities
MEETING: EAA Chapter 517, Inc. only has one official member meeting per year, usually in October, to meet the requirements of a Montana corporation.
Each month, other than October, the Chapter has a gathering on the first Saturday of the month. These gatherings range from informal coffee and donuts during the depths of the winter to a more formal Breakfasts at the Airport during the flying season.
On these Saturdays from April to November a Chapter update meeting with a program of some sort will follow the meal event.
SPECIAL MEAL EVENTS: Five Valleys Flyers has two planned special meal events each year. In February there is the Annual Mid-Winter Chili Feed. On December 17th each year there is the Annual Wright Brothers Dinner to celebrate the anniversary of Orville and Wilbur’s 1903, First Manned Powered Flight and the Christmas holiday.
EAGLE AND YOUNG EAGLE FLIGHTS: Five Valley Flyers, operating as EAA Chapter 517, Inc., conducts regular Eagle and Young Eagles flights based on demand. Often these flights occur on the first Saturday of the month in conjunction with our other scheduled activities. However, off site Eagle and Young Eagle events also are conducted to meet the needs of our surrounding communities. OTHER ACTIVITIES: Five Valley Flyers often participates in the planning and support of other aviation events in our service area. Periodically, the annual Montana Aviation Conference is held in Missoula. In 2018, there was the AOPA Regional Fly-In and a Tryke Fly-In in Stevensville. The Chapter supported all these events and expects to continue such in the future. We also help support the annual Aviation Day in Hamilton each year.
Check the Chapter calendar for upcoming events.
Chapter 517's hangar at the Missoula Airport (KMSO) is at the end of Corporate Way, past Neptune Aviation, across from Homestead Helicopters.
Chapter 517's hangar is not only a meeting place, and a great place for breakfast on summer Saturday flying days, but a working aircraft hangar, with hangarage available for rent to members on a first-come-first-served and space-available basis. Vacancies will be posted here and on our News page.