Where Did AirportGuide.com Come From?In 1991, I went to my local airport to look for airport info on a CD-ROM. I asked the owner of the FBO if he had ever heard of a software-based airport directory with diagrams, sectional maps, local restaurants, car rentals, hotels, attractions, etc. He said it didn’t exist and then the fateful words “Why don’t you create it?” I thought about it for a minute and decided it would take about 6 months to create this CD. It actually took a bit longer. The reason it took so long was for several reasons:
- I didn’t know where the data was
- It was before the internet
- The fastest computers were very slow which required leaving data processing tasks overnight and crossing your fingers that it worked (It takes one minute now when it used to take 8 hours in the early 1990’s)
- The data wasn’t that great when I found it
- I had to scan sectional maps for every airport, heliport, seaplane base, gliderport, STOLport, and ultralight field, and then I had to find diagrams.
- At this point I was a bit ahead of my time as there were no digital airport diagrams to be had so I had to scan those too.
Six years later, Airport Guide Western Edition was released on CD. Yes, I said 6 years, not 6 months.
Later that year, I released the Eastern Edition followed by the Central Edition.
After 3 years of steadily increasing sales, I was at EAA Airventure in Oshkosh and people kept asking me if they could get this for free on the web. My sales at the show were half of the previous year and I saw the writing on the wall......
Convert this to a web application or watch it die very quickly
I learned html and over about a year, converted this into a very nice web site with all of the functionality of the CD. The problem was nobody would pay for this to make it worth my while AND Google’s AdSense program did not yet exist. I started to advertise the site for sale with no serious buyers. While at Oshkosh, I was introduced to some people from Dynamic Systems Integration who were bidding on a NASA proposal called SATS-Net; this was supposed to be the Next Gen Small Aircraft Transportation System. They asked me to bid with them so they could use my databases as the core for the program. We won the proposal but when it came time for the implementation, they only wanted part of the database, As a result, it wouldn’t be worth the effort I would need to put into it. We discussed it for awhile and decided it was in their best interest to purchase the Airport Guide web site.
I was a bit upset about selling Airport Guide after my 10,000+ hours of work that went into its development but I had free time again. After a few years I noticed that the domain name, AirportGuide.com, was not being used except to redirect people to their new site. I really wanted it back even though I didn’t know what I would do with it. In June 2008 I was able to purchase the domain name back but as I said, what would I do with it?
After about a week of thinking about a new angle that has not yet been done, AirportGuide.com now has a new direction. It will be geared towards pilots as before but also to travelers. It will have basic airport information for pilots such as diagrams, runway info, and frequencies but will tailor to all with airport reviews, hotel reservations, and car reservations.
I am sure that I will keep adding to the functionality of the site to make it even more useful to everyone. Please feel free to contact us if you have any suggestions or comments. With your help, AirportGuide.com will once again be a one-stop aviation and traveler destination on the web.
Thanks for reading and here’s to a great community site!