A two-week-old aviation group is growing in Oxford, thanks to an University of Mississippi freshman hailing from Louisville, Kentucky.
Just days before classes began for his first semester in the School of Business, David Flynn earned a private pilot’s license that “burned a hole in his pocket” since then. Flynn saw there weren’t many opportunities to fly despite spending his first semester finding ways to become involved at the Ole Miss Airport through washing planes, cleaning hangars or “just about anything else if it meant I got to hang around the airport and meet some people…,” he said.
But he was not able to meet up with anyone to at least clean the planes at the local airport.
Flynn said he couldn’t find “any form of connection or community between the pilots at this airport.” He reached out to a few aviation Facebook groups for advice but he received similar stories of disconnection between aviators and local residents.
“I realized that the majority of airports lack the close-knit community that existed in the ‘glory days’ of aviation,” Flynn said. “Last semester, I noticed that my generation is not involved in aviation like the older generations. I also learned that this is a growing concern for many aviation companies and organizations. I have become very involved in promoting aviation to my generation through social media and a new application: Hangaround.”
Hangaround is a website that he plans to use to revolutionize general aviation communities. During four months of its inception, Flynn cultivated an active online community on Facebook by connecting people to regional aviation groups. Recently, he created a blog to explain issues and solutions that face the aviation communities today. Flynn said that the blog has an unique spin: anyone is allowed to submit an article to the blog as long as it discusses aviation.
Last week, he released the first version of the Hangaround app in Oxford.
“It’s showing great potential and has a growing user base comprised of Ole Miss students, local pilots and aviation enthusiasts,” Flynn said. “I plan to implement the application at a few more airports around the country in order to test it.”
He believes his app will benefit interested Ole Miss students who want to participate in aviation – something that is “next to impossible otherwise in this area” due to the lack of flight schools, he said.
Once implemented at an airport, Hangaround provides two main features: Newsfeed and Hangar. Newsfeed is where people can meet, ask questions and share stories. Hangar is where people can connect with mentors from local airports who can answer questions, encourage involvement and assist in any way to foster interests in aviation.
“These days it is very difficult to meet people and get involved in aviation if you do not have an existing connection,” Flynn said. “Time and time again, I hear about people wanting to get involved in aviation but there are many common factors holding them back. The most common are that they cannot afford flight lessons or they simply do not know where to begin. Using Hangaround they can simply reach their local airport community and ask. Most of the time pilots are more than happy to take someone flying, especially someone who has an interest in aviation.”
He plans to test the app at a few more airports around the country. As Oxford’s Hangaround community grows, he is thinking about organizing meetings and events either on Ole Miss campus or at the Ole Miss Airport.
Flynn is excited to share his lifelong passion.
“I’ve loved aviation my whole life,” he said. “My uncle was a pilot and took me for rides when I was young. At 12 years old, I took my first lesson. At age 16, I took my first solo flight. At 18, I passed my private pilot check ride.”
He shared the story of how he got his private pilot license on the Hangaround blog: http://blog.hangaround.co
My goal for the summer was to complete my 6 years of training before heading down to The University of Mississippi for my first semester. After a number of roadblocks and weather related delays, the only day the DPE was available for a check ride was on Thursday… three days after I was supposed to move into Ole Miss. My only other option was to put it on hold until I came home for Christmas break. Although I didn’t want to miss the first week (the week before classes started) of my college experience, I was too close to put it on hold, so I made a plan.
My parents, brothers and I left on Monday to move my stuff into my new home (a dorm room) at Ole IMG_1964Miss. I spent most of the 7 hour drive with my nose in the books. The trip home the next day was spent the same way. I spent Tuesday night studying and Wednesday in the air finalizing everything for my checkride. When Thursday morning arrived, I was ready – and terribly nervous.
That morning, the exam went as well as I could have hoped for – but there was no time to celebrate. After a quick lunch with my parents and grandparents, I hit the road to officially start my college career.
The reason Flynn chose to begin his college career at Ole Miss was a football game.
He said, “I’ve always wanted to go South for school, but I had never considered Ole Miss until I was invited down for a football game my junior year of high school. Once I saw it, I fell in love.”
Now he hopes that many Ole Miss students and Oxonians will fall in love with aviation through Hangaround app. The link to the Oxford Hangaround community is here: Oxford.hangaround.co
Those interested can learn more about Hangaround at www.hangaround.co.
Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor at HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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