A powerful tool for GA: Jump online and join the aviation social revolution!

August 26th, 2013 by Dan Pimentel

It is hard to ignore the current explosion of social networking that is occurring in the general aviation family. Every time you go online, a new aviator has joined the conversation – a great thing because as we all know, GA faces challenges today that are best met with a unified front.

Even though the 2013 edition of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is now a happy memory, many aviators who attended this air show/family reunion are still talking about the big increase in social networking that took place. Because so many #avgeeks are now connected via social networks – especially Twitter – hundreds of these aviation socialites hung out together all day, met up to watch the afternoon air show as small groups before partying into the night at gatherings of 100 or more. Everyone knew everyone else, and it just felt right to see such a dedicated mass of passionate aviators celebrating GA…together.

Twitter is the network of choice for many of us online aviators because of the real-time nature of the platform. When news breaks, Twitter users see it first. When we need to join together to build solidarity, putting that request out to the Twitter #Avgeek community is by far the fastest way to make our collective voice heard.

But there is a growing population of pilots who are not satisfied with the status quo in aviation social networking and are using everything in their digital arsenal to push important information out to friends, fans, family and followers. Two active members of the aviation family who are stretching their imaginations are Brent Owens and David Allen. They exemplify what it means to dig deep and develop new ways to use existing social networking tools to gather together like minds and help rally the rest of us.

Owens, who writes the IFlyBlog came up with the brilliant and successful concept of “Blogging in Formation,” where six veteran bloggers team up to all write about the same topic one week per month. When each of these “formation bloggers” posts their material, the other five cross-promote like crazy, and the result is a significant bump in traffic. The other five “Formation Bloggers” are Andrew Hartley, Karlene Petitt, Eric Auxier, Ron Rapp and Dan Pimentel.

Allen, of Other People’s Airplanes, has published his well-produced “video blogs” for years. But at Airventure 2013, Team OPA had a sizable crew wearing identical team shirts, using the latest video/audio gear to produce broadcast quality content to be streamed live online or made available on iTunes. This new energy from Allen and his team demonstrates how some in our community are bringing their “A” game to aviation social networking, determined to tell the world just how cool GA can be.

Even AOPA is adding new content that pushes GA forward through more pinpoint use of social networking. The Opinion Leaders Blog you are currently reading is just one more example of how some aviators are taking existing platforms – in this case, AOPA.org – and developing new ways to tell GA’s story.

Facebook, Twitter, blogging, videos, podcasting, or the next big thing to debut tomorrow…take your pick. The platform does not matter. What matters is that you jump on these social networks and join the conversation. General aviation needs you to be all in right now, we need to stay focused and band together.

Hiding in our silos, afraid to take on the challenges GA faces is how we lose. And social networking is how we win.

Dan Pimentel

Dan Pimentel has worked in journalism and graphic design since 1979, and is the president and art director of Celeste/Daniels Advertising and Design Inc. He's an instrument-rated private pilot and owns a Piper Cherokee 235. He has been blogging as Av8rdan since 2005 and writes the Airplanista Aviation Blog.

The opinions expressed by the bloggers do not reflect AOPA’s position on any topic.

  • http://karlenepetitt.com Karlene

    Excellent post. And we need to call upon the airline pilots to come back to their roots and assist in supporting general aviation.

  • Ron Rapp

    Brent is someone I really admire — not only did he come up with the Formation idea, but he’s also got a site called Fixed Wing Buddha which focuses exclusively on cost-saving ideas for GA.

    One of the difficulties I have with social media is that there’s so much stuff out there that at times it can be challenging just keeping it all organized. Anyone else have that issue?

  • http://smartflighttraining.com Andrew Hartley

    You know what I love best about aviation and specifically my new “Blogging in Formation” family? No one else in my family (or most of my immediate group of close friends) is a pilot, or involved in aviation.

    Aviation in general (and Blogging in Formation specifically) gives me an “aviation family” who I can talk to about flying, or aviation, or anything really. And social media has amplified that and made it even more immediate and more real!

    As one of the first readers of the Blogging in Formation series said, ” It feels like a conversation. Like we are all hanging out at the airport together telling stories.” I loved that comment, and I think it rings true!

  • http://iflyblog.com Brent

    Thanks for the kind words guys! It has been really fun. We all bring our unique insights and experiences to the table with our blogs and sometimes you never know how it’s going to turn out. I have to say that I’m always amazed at how much fun it is each month reading each others contributions.

    Now if we could all just meet in person, that would be fantastic. Dan has done a great job of cracking the code of virtual families with #oshbash. What an amazing way for folks who interact all year long to actually hang out for a short period of time in person and what better venue than OSH.


    • Dan

      I really am happy to be out there talking up this social revolution…we need this and I meant every word of this post. And yes, Brent, my #Oshbash events at AirVenture are a very cool way for everyone to meet. I hope we Formation Bloggers can pool our collective energy on this and make the next #Oshbash at #OSH14 even better.

  • http://capnaux.blogspot.com Eric Auxier

    So nice to hear from our Blogging in Formation team chiming in on this.

    I think social promotion of aviation, and GA in particular, is close to each of our hearts. Karlene and I may be somewhat, ahem, “seasoned” airline pilots, but I think neither of us have forgotten our routes. In fact, we blog about it all the time.

    The overused buzzword “synergy” works fantastically well here to describe the exponential dividends we—and aviation as a result—reap from our Formation blogging.

    And we have an absolute blast doing it. I hope everyone joins us for the fun!

  • gene

    great to see the networking . we need more of this to assist in saving GA on every Airport there is . too many airport board members with no working knowledge of how Aviation works .

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