SocialFlight: The Facebook of Aviation, and So Much More

Social media has become an intricate part of everyone’s life.  Even those people who don’t use the sites themselves are affected by their presence.  It is completely normal to see news programs discussing tweets, Facebook posts, or YouTube videos.  Like every other industry, social media continues to grow and expand in ways that we may not have expected.

One of the most underutilized aspects of social media is the general lack of sites that successfully unite specific communities such as golfers, car enthusiasts, or aviation nuts like myself.  Sure there are plenty of message boards, forums, and communities that exist, but there really isn’t any one site that does a really good job of uniting the community and making it easier to connect with others who are just as passionate as we are.  Most of the successful sites are just too generic.

As someone who loves everything to do with planes and aviation, I can be entertained just by watching airplanes take off and land.  I guess I am just easily entertained.  That being said, I would really love to find more aviation events where I can connect with other people who love aviation just as much.  The internet has made finding these events easier, but it can still be incredibly frustrating finding information about what is happening now, and not just what already happened.

SocialFlight is trying to change that, not just for the aviation community, but ultimately for lots of other communities as well, and their whole model is based on keeping it free for the user.

Their initial release actively sought out aviation related events and tried to bring them all into one database that distributed an event listing on their website, through email, and through their app.  Users are then able to search the database for events in a certain area, over particular dates, or based on other parameters.  While not incredibly unique, it is still pretty cool, and definitely more effective than any existing service.

The second aspect of their plan is to try and engage corporate sponsors to create more, and better, events to bring pilots and other aviation enthusiasts together.  This could be used to help manufacturers get more people out to a product trial, or even to help the FAA better distribute important safety information or meeting updates.

Their newest release has added a somewhat more traditional social media aspect that they refer to as a “Hangar Page”.  It resembles a Facebook page where users can share photos, videos, or even just experiences that they may have had.

What I love most about their model is that they are not simply just trying to use what is already there, they are actively trying to improve the aviation community as a whole.  They want to get the word out about what is going on, and make people excited about getting involved.

AvWeb has a great writeup about SocialFlight that is far more eloquent than anything I write which I highly recommend.  In their article Jason Clemens of Where2 Interactive (the developers of SocialFlight) references a quote from Steve Jobs, “it’s not our customer’s job to tell us what they want. It’s our job.”  While I have never been a lover of Apple products I do love that idea.  If you can make something incredibly appealing then people will want it whether they realized they wanted it or not.

Aviation is very cool, and has been since its inception.  It started out as something only for the very wealthy, and remained that way for a very long time.  Deregulation made it possible for more people than ever to consider air travel as an option.  Despite that increase in air travel, the real wonder has always been in being able to walk around on the tarmac and run your fingers along the fuselage of a beautiful plane.  I really hope that SocialFlight is able to achieve their goals of making that a reality for more people.