It’s a nightmare that many pilots face every year: after landing at an airport far from home base, your airplane develops a mechanical problem and you find yourself AOG (airplane on ground). Maybe it’s a flat tire, maybe it’s a bad alternator, but whatever the issue, you need help before you can fly home. But A&P mechanics can be hard to find, especially if it’s after hours or on a weekend, and Uber isn’t always an option at quiet GA airports. Who do you call for help?
That’s exactly the problem Cirrus owner Jay Locke had in mind when he conceived of an app that would connect stranded pilots with nearby owners, mechanics, and pilots who might be interested in helping. He mentioned the idea on the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) online forum, and immediately found support. This led to a GoFundMe campaign and a connection to Gotham Sukumar, another COPA member and software developer. He offered to create the app, and AOG Alerts was born.
This is a simple app, but it’s a brilliant concept and it’s easy to use. Simply create a profile in the app and you’ll have the option to either ask for help or receive notifications when other pilots need help. Best of all, there is no fee to participate.
From the home screen, tapping the AOG button allows you to create an alert that will be sent to all AOG Alerts users in your area (you can choose your alert range when you create your profile). You can fill out any details on your situation, and your profile information helps potential helpers identify you. Since each account is verified, you know you are helping a real pilot when you receive an alert.
Sometimes you might just need a ride to a hotel while you wait for a part to arrive; sometimes you might need the name of a local mechanic. All of these options are available, since you’re connecting with fellow pilots, not maintenance shops.
The app doesn’t have to be just for emergencies; the Social button can be used to meet other pilots in your area or organize a fly-out. Tap on the green button to send a non-AOG message to pilots nearby.
As fate would have it, Sukumar experienced an AOG himself shortly after launching the app. He couldn’t get his Cirrus SR22 to start, but wasn’t sure what the cause was. He submitted an AOG alert in the app and within 30 minutes he received messages from three Cirrus pilots offering to help troubleshoot the problem. It ended up being a bad battery, which was easily fixed by replacing it—a simple fix that avoided a trip to the shop.
Overall, we love the idea of this app. It’s the perfect way to use technology to tap into the informal network of pilots around the country. AOG Alerts is free to download, and is available for both iOS devices and Android devices.