January 18, 2011
By Jill W. Tallman
Software developer Adam Fast is always thinking about his next project. Since he’s also a pilot, he likes to create Web-based applications that involve flying. And because he’s a generous guy by nature, he shares these applications with the aviation community.
Fast lives in Lawrence, Kan., and flies out of Lawrence Municipal. He became a private pilot in September 2006, and has logged about 250 hours. He learned to fly with the Joplin Flyers Club in his hometown of Joplin, Mo., and is still an active member of the club. Joplin Flyers was the initial recipient of his talents when he designed a scheduling system that the club uses to manage its airplanes and their maintenance. The first public program was wxgk.net, a collection of data intended to power an experimental glass cockpit. That grew out of Fast’s plans to someday build an Experimental aircraft, for which he would design the glass avionics for the panel.
The first to reach a wide audience, however, was a little application called OSHPlanner. As the name suggests, it’s a program to help pilots visiting EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., sort through the plethora of seminars, book signings, exhibits, airshow events, et cetera, and plan their days so that they won’t miss anything.
It took Fast about a month of spare time on the back end and working with beta users to make the program as useful as possible, and he only stopped working on it last year when he had to pack up the club’s Piper Cherokee to head out to Wittman Field for AirVenture 2010. He plans to release version 2.0 later this year.
Fast’s newest application is AeroMuseums, which he created because he enjoys visiting aviation museums whenever he flies to new airports but wasn’t having a lot of success finding them. The application is designed to let users add museums to the database as well as search for museums. Fast says that while it’s available in the public view, it’s not yet complete—he’s still gathering data on museums and will be adding features such as a “wish list” for users and the ability for them to share videos or blog entries of their visits.
“Necessity is certainly the mother of invention when it comes to what I write,” he says. “The guideline is if it’s something I’ll use and takes less than three evenings of free time I just do it. … If it’s longer than that I write up the ideas and approaches and see how exciting it sounds over time and the potential number of people it can help before I prototype.” The quickest of these, he says, was an app called ReReg, which cross-checks FAA registrations to see when an aircraft is required to be re-registered under the FAA’s new rule. That took less than an evening, because he had most of the data he needed from other projects.
More information on Fast’s applications can be found on his personal website, and you can follow him on Twitter to learn when he’ll be putting out something new.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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