July 1, 2014
By Dave Hirschman
Providing new reasons to fly has been SocialFlight’s reason to exist since Jeff Simon launched the online firm two years ago—and it appears to be working.
More than 25,000 people have signed up for the free service that includes customized weekly email listings of regional aviation events. About 200,000 people see online SocialFlight calendars through other media.
Now, the Massachusetts firm is launching SocialFlight 4.0, a free app that provides detailed information about destinations as well as reviews of area restaurants, hotels, and attractions. The mobile app also shows current trip planning material such as airport information and weather forecasts.
“Flying tends to be a somewhat solitary pursuit,” Simon said. “SocialFlight changes that by helping people connect around events, destinations, and shared interests.”
About 15,000 aviation events have been listed via SocialFlight in the last 18 months, and some are drawing people from far outside their usual geographic areas.
“Flying clubs and other aviation groups used to be inward-looking,” he said. “All of a sudden they are getting a lot more new people at their events, and that’s really healthy for small organizations.”
SocialFlight’s weekly list of aviation activities is distributed every Wednesday evening, and that gets pilots thinking about making plans for weekend flying. It also has the potential to reach many more aviation enthusiasts who haven’t grown up around aviation.
“We as an industry tend to do a fairly poor job of reaching people have a desire to fly but don’t know anyone who actually does fly,” Simon said. “Things change as soon as they start to make those connections.”
SocialFlight 4.0 also includes search tools designed to form networks based on common interests. If you want to find someone living within 50 miles that owns an antique biplane and is also a flight instructor, SocialFlight can do that for you.
SocialFlight 4.0 can be found at both Apple and Google app stores.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
Over the past several years, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) developed its digital flight planning tools into a suite of products that put flight planning capability, airport directory information and aviation weather in pilots’ hands. AOPA partnered with Seattle Avionics to create FlyQ EFB, an electronic flight bag (EFB) iPad application, and FlyQ Pocket, a smartphone application.
AOPA is exiting the electronic flight bag (EFB) market, and the association’s existing products will transition to Seattle Avionics.
An accident claimed a 17-year-old pilot seeking the world record as the youngest pilot in command to fly a single-engine airplane around the world.
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