When David Flynn started college at the University of Mississippi, one of the first things he wanted to do is check out the local airport.
A self-proclaimed aviation nerd raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Flynn had just gotten his private pilot certificate and was eager to put it to use.
“I was a brand new pilot and I went up to the airport and I was like, ‘Man, I’d love to get know some people and go flying,’” he recalls. “There’s no flight school or anything, and it was just really hard to get to know people. I couldn’t find anybody, so I was like, ‘Maybe there’s a Facebook group or something online where I can start talking to some people.’ And there was nothing.”
He joined a few general aviation Facebook groups and started talking to people online. He found that everyone was experiencing the same problem.
“I realized that at a lot of airports people have this problem of trying to get involved in the community and there’s no centralized source of information,” he says. “So I said, ‘All right, I’m going to fix that.”
And that was how Hangaround was born.
A social platform for airports, Hangaround offers each of the nation’s public airports its own group. Pilots, FBOs and others interested in the airport can join the airport’s group to connect with each other, share information, ask questions, and tell stories, he explains.
“If I would have had this available when I got to school, I could have said ‘Hey, I’m new to school, I’d love to go flying with somebody or get to know some people,’ and directly gotten in touch with the community,” he says. “Now that’s available at every airport.”
The platform also offers other information about airports, such as whether a courtesy car is available or whether there are restaurants and hotels near by.
“That’s a determining factor if they go to Airport A or B or on to their destination,” he notes.
Hangaround is an open source platform, which means any member can add information, such as events scheduled at the airport or the best approach for a particular runway.
FBO staff can monitor the site to answer questions, he adds.
“When you respond and another airport FBO doesn’t, you just got their business,” he says. “It’s a great tool for the business side of the airport as well.”
Hangaround is free for individuals and, right now, FBOs and other airport businesses.
“Because it’s new, I’m not charging FBOs, flight schools or airport businesses,” he says, noting that once the platform takes off, he plans to charge businesses a small monthly fee.
Now 20, the college junior, who is studying Management and Information Systems (MIS), has been working on Hangaround since he started school. It was finished about six months ago and now it’s time to get the word out to get people to join their airport group.
The target audience for Hangaround is everyone who is interested in aviation.
“Anybody from the kid who just wants to go hang out at the airport and meet some people so he can watch planes to pilots to airport businesses,” he says. “The big picture is that it’s for anyone involved in aviation. It’s trying to bring a home base for every airport.”
His ultimate goal is to have Hangaround be the go-to source for information.
“So if I’m flying from Austin to Louisiana or somewhere I’ve never been before, I can pull up Hangaround and it pulls all the information that I need together,” he says.
He acknowledges that AirNav has some of that information.
“But I want Hangaround to pull that information and also pull all the information provided by the airport members, and then maybe if I have a question, I can ask and then the airport manager is watching it.”
“I just really want it to be the centralized location for the community aspect of general aviation, and hopefully help modernize aviation and help shine a new light on it, because there’s so many young people who aren’t getting involved in it, mainly because they don’t know how,” he continues.
“Hopefully by bringing airports online and giving people in my generation a place to go online to take that first step into aviation and to meet some people, it will help revive and help grow general aviation.”