An app that helps pilots find airport courtesy cars is now supported by a website that lists more than 1,625 cars around the nation.
Developed by long-time pilot Glenn Brasch, the AirportCourtesyCars.com lets all pilots access the information, no matter what kind of smartphone they have.After launching the app in late 2015, he quickly found success, with more than 10,000 pilots downloading it.
But he acknowledges he ran into some problems. His initial host for the app managed to lose all his data, which meant he had to recreate more than 1,600 listings.
Then pilots complained because they couldn’t use the app on their Windows-based phones or they thought they couldn’t use it on their iPads.
So he created the new website, as well as enhanced the app.
“It can now be used on any device,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you have, it will work, one way or another.”
For some, that means clicking in the app and going directly to the website.
For others, specifically Android and iPhone users, you can access the information directly in the app.
The app contains a map that shows all the locations where courtesy cars are available. You can narrow it down by state, gradually narrowing it down to the location you need. You then click on the pin and it tells you about the car, and the airport location.
The app even includes phone numbers so you can click on the number and call the FBO directly, he said.
On the website the information is presented a bit differently, he noted, but all the information is there, such as the type of car — some listings even have photos of the cars — the FBO’s location and hours and more.
Keeping the information up to date is an on-going process, but he has a lot of help from the users.
One just emailed recently that he had spelled Colville, Alaska, wrong. Thankful, he immediately fixed it.
Then there are the emails that he can’t do anything about.
“A guy from Idaho emails me and says he went to an airport and one of the courtesy cars had a flat tire, while the other one had a dead battery,” Brasch relates.
While Brasch has no control over the state of the cars, he advises pilots to do a bit of homework before taking off. He’s hoping to help them by adding notes to the listings, such as “Not a tended airport, so make sure you call first.”
“I started adding notes a little bit after the fact,” he said. “I wish I would’ve done it from the beginning.”
He also added a Twitter account, which is accessible from the front page of the app, which helps reach more people, as well as keep information current. That, he says, helps people see the most recent listings, without having to bother them with notifications of what’s new.
While Brasch has sold some advertising on the app, he notes developing it and updating it is more of a “labor of love.” He also asks FBOs that buy the $99 a year ads to offer pilots a discount on fuel.
And while many users have said he should probably charge for the app, he wants to continue to offer it for free to pilots.
“I am doing this mostly for fun, not for money,” he continued. “I would just like to break even.”