Fourteen employees of Ford Motor Company established the Ford Ski Club in 1949 as a recreational activity of the Ford Employees Recreation Association [FERA]. Later they changed the name to the Ford Thunderbird Ski Club. Eventually the Club became an independent nonprofit corporation of the State of Michigan, adopted a new name as the Thunderbird Ski Club, and became known on ski slopes as "The T'Birds."
The Club is the largest ski club in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation. Our members are professionals, merchants, businessmen and businesswomen, and employees of many companies and organizations. Many are married and many are single. We hail from many locations. Our roster now includes members from eighteen states and two Canadian provinces!
Members enjoy a friendly and amiable atmosphere for athletic activities like skiing, snowboarding, golfing, canoeing, biking, bowling, and rollerblading, and social activities like picnics, dining, theatre, boat cruises, attending events such as horse racing, Detroit Tiger, Detroit Red Wing, and Plymouth Whalers games.
Summer picnics during June, July, August, and September attract two hundred members and guests who enjoy a summer evening with BBQs and refreshments. Our "Drop-In" Friday Night Golf League at local golf courses enables playing any or all weeks as you choose. Evening bike rides, weekend golf trips, boat outings, theater outings, wine tastings, a weekend canoe trip to Northern Michigan, and other social gatherings happen all summer long. We go as a group to ball games, sample beer brewing at a microbrewery sometimes in Windsor, and have visited Toronto, Chicago, and Mackinac Island. The Club has even been hang gliding, hot air ballooning, and bungee jumping.
Our club is also involved in community service activities. We have adopted a stretch of the I-75 freeway in Michigan. Another group of members meets at Gleaners Forgotten Harvest once every month to pack boxes, sort donations or complete other tasks which benefit those in need. We are particularly proud of our Annual Toys for Tots Christmas Party where members donate toys and funds to help secure a better Christmas for Michigan's children.
An Open House in the Fall provides displays for members and guests of new skiing equipment and schedules of ski trips for the upcoming season along with dancing and socializing. The Fall Season also frequently includes a Road Rally, a Halloween Party, a night at Northville Downs, a hayride/square dance, a used equipment sale, a motorcycle ride, and a night of Whirlyball.
The winter season returns us to our raison d’etre and is filled with selected western ski trips to Aspen, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Squaw Valley, Mammoth, Park City, Steamboat, Vail, and Winter Park. In Canada our popular destinations are Whistler, Blackcomb, Banff, and Lake Louise. Interspersed are weekend and long weekend trips to Boyne, Schuss, Searchmont, and Blue Mountain, and day trips to Mount Brighton, Alpine, and Mt. Holly.
Occasionally an adventurous Club schedules trips to Europe where favorites are Innsbruck, Zermatt, Courmayeur, and Chamonix. We also visited locations in, Greece, Norway, New Zealand, Japan, and South America.
Our club is one of a few in the country that boasts its own SnowSports School. Our instructors are members of the Club and follow PSIA and/or AASI Guidelines. Instruction is offered on some of our local day trips and on longer trips.
The Thunderbird Race Team is an active group of approximately fifty racers of all skiing ability levels, from novice to expert, who participate in downhill ski racing on slalom, giant slalom, and even Super G courses in the Michigan Alpine Competition [MACC] ski race program. The program consists of teams from twelve to fourteen ski clubs in Michigan and Ohio that compete in twelve races over five weekends, primarily at Boyne Mountain in northern Michigan, with one weekend at Searchmont Resort just north of Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Men and women of the race team also enjoy many organized social functions throughout the race weekends.
The Club is a member of the Metropolitan Detroit Ski Council (MDSC) and the Chicago Metropolitan Ski Council (CMSC). And, is the only ski club of the Ford Employee Recreation Association (FERA).
The website, www.TBirdSkiClub.com, provides schedules of local social events and trips and ski trips, photos and articles of prior events, names and emails of the Board of Directors and activity leaders, and other organizational information. Members also receive a monthly newsletter, the “TOWLINE” where announcements, photos, articles and other club information are presented in electronic email PDF format.