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AOPA upgrades fun finderAOPA upgrades fun finder

AOPA’s newly revamped Destinations page makes it easier than ever to find great reasons to go flying, from tasty restaurants to golf courses, amusement parks, and more, seamlessly integrated with the AOPA Airports database that members have loved and used for years.

Composite by AOPA staff.

The recently implemented upgrades expanded AOPA’s online airport directory into a more robust search tool that streamlines the process of finding fun places to fly. To see the results of the development team’s effort for yourself, click over to the new Destinations page and type in the name of any city, state, or airport you care to explore. If you’re searching by state, you can check boxes to zero in on exactly what you’re looking for. Checking those boxes (public-use airports is checked by default) filters the results, making it easy to find, for example, airports with on-field restaurants, with ground transportation available (rental car or courtesy car), on-field camping, various types of runways, or specific services such as oxygen resupply or maintenance.

Once you’ve clicked “search” and started to look at an area, airports that meet your criteria will be displayed on a map, and you can click on the airport’s icon for the full page of airport details, just as before. Now, however, the  development team has added a new tab on the search results page to look at “nearby activities.” Food being on many of our minds, the default search will show you up to 20 restaurants that are within the scope of the map view. Clicking on “Restaurants” near the top of the results page will provide you with other options to find other kinds of attractions.

Eric Rush, director of AOPA’s project management office, said the most recently implemented upgrades include the ability to search an entire state, not just one city or airport at a time. The AOPA development team integrated Google search tools to help users find golf courses, amusement parks, and other attractions, and the team continues to work on customizing and refining the results with a pilot’s point of view in mind.

“It’s all about helping people find cool places, interesting places to go with their airplanes,” Rush said.  

Once a search is started, the results are plotted on a map. You can drag that map around in any direction to see what else is around, be it airports, restaurants, or other attractions you’ve selected. Integrating Google’s search tools streamlined the process from a user’s point of view, reducing the number of clicks and pages required to gather information for a fun flight. Rush noted that with the current iteration, relying on Google as it does, there are a few limitations to bear in mind. For example, a search for restaurants (or other attractions) in any given area is limited to 20 results, so searching for restaurants across a large area will only show the first 20 eateries in Google’s database, not every restaurant you might want to visit.

Zooming in to a smaller area will yield a more complete picture of what’s to eat, see, and do, but Rush said AOPA has something else cooking.

“We’re going to start curating more member-fed content,” Rush said. “We’ll be creating a forum to start to gather all of this information. We want this to mature into a robust destination finder that goes beyond what Google can provide. This is very much a 1.0 or a 1.1 version that we have out there right now… but there is more in the works.”

Being able to drag the map view in any direction and expand or contract it with a spin of the mouse wheel is a significant upgrade that makes finding reasons to fly much easier.

With a nod to Stevie Nicks and the late, great, Tom Petty (who co-wrote Nicks’ 1981 solo debut single “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Mike Campbell), Rush said, with a chuckle, that it is now time to “start draggin’ our map around.”

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: US Travel

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