With its free website and app, SocialFlight is helping pilots interact.
From Plane & Pilot, By Marc C. Lee
Pilots are social creatures. If somebody’s listening, we aviators are happy to talk about our aerial adventures, and we love to spend time with other pilots, obsessing over modifications, the latest cockpit goodies or comparing notes on techniques and procedures. The well-known “$100 hamburger” is the most common expression of aviator interaction, and weekend pilots comprise a considerable majority of the aviation population. The question that always springs up on those gorgeous VFR-for-miles days is, “Where can I fly today?”
In recent years, a declining pilot population has lessened the number of hamburger runs and flights made for the sole purpose of enjoying the beauty of flying. So many other media sources compete for our attention that, as aviators, fewer of us are flying for the fun of it. Many fly-ins across the country that have been staples of the aviation community for decades have disappeared or attendance has dropped.
It’s these two facts that spurred entrepreneur Jeff Simon to create SocialFlight, a website, mobile app and network of aviation enthusiasts that form what Simon calls “Facebook for pilots,” and much more. Since creating SocialFlight six years ago, it has become the go-to resource for aviation enthusiasts to find local events, chat, upload event photos and network with other SocialFlight users. More than just a calendar, SocialFlight is a destination in itself: an active forum for communication and interaction, a source for information, a place to share images and thoughts about aviation, and a dynamic calendar of everything related to aviation.
“I created SocialFlight to answer my own question of, ‘What do you do to get more people engaged in general aviation?'” said Simon. “I knew we had to reach outside of aviation to get more people involved, and I envisioned a place where we could do that and offer more than just a calendar.” Today, SocialFlight boasts almost 25,000 direct registrations and reaches an additional audience of over 200,000 through the display of the SocialFlight event map on other sites.
Though other aviation event websites have been created since the Internet and aviation began to mingle in the early ’90s, SocialFlight is more than just a site. Simon and his technical team have created a useful, intuitive, feature-rich (and free) mobile app that works on just about any platform, allowing users to access SocialFlight anywhere, anytime. The app provides pilots with an interactive map of aviation events and other important resources.