FLYING Magazine

Sushee Perumal, of Ontario, Canada, has been a pilot for nearly two decades. After working through earning additional ratings and flying more frequently, he determined there was a problem with general aviation. Perumal felt that there was not an inclusive source where he could learn of new places he could fly to for recreational purposes. 

As a result, he created the FlytoPlaces app in summer 2023. This aviation-centric digital resource can be found in the App Store, with an Android version presently undergoing testing. Perumal has personally benefited from the exercise of looking for new places to include in this resource and expects it to become a community-focused platform where pilots can provide each other with trip tips and cool places to stretch their wings to. 

“For the past 18 years, I have had access to airplanes, affording me the opportunity to visit unbelievable off-the-beaten-path destinations which I otherwise would not have seen in a lifetime,” Perumal said. “Much of this discovery has been spontaneous. I came across a Facebook post, had a conversation with another pilot at the airport, etc. There are various tools available for flight planning. However, existing destination-specific information for pilots is hard to use and terribly outdated, lacking features that could make the discovery and planning easy and even entertaining. I have moved thousands of destinations that I have stored in spreadsheets and internet bookmarks to the FlytoPlaces app, making things more accessible.”

When asked how to further summarize the app and its purpose, Perumal points to a popular nonaviation platform—Tripadvisor. He said the founder of this service similarly leaned on their frustration with trip planning as a driving force for solving pain points. 

“The app is like Tripadvisor for pilots, built for pilots by pilots to discover destinations to fly to,” he said. “From airport restaurants to lavish resorts, romantic weekend getaways to epic adventures of a lifetime, the app makes it easy to find and explore your perfect destination. You can take advantage of curated collections that include procedures for flying to the Bahamas, from Canada to the United States, and even procedures for extraordinary overflights like a Niagara Falls or a New York City tour. And the best part is you can access the airport finder to search for nearby airports and quickly get directions—and even bookmark your favorite airports and set up a bucket list, all within the app. FlytoPlaces will help you discover your next grand getaway.”

Another shot of Shushee Perumal from the same trip to northern Ontario, Canada. [Credit: FlytoPlaces]

Sushee Perumal flies his 1977 Cessna 340A in the Bahamas. [Credit: FlytoPlaces]

Prior to creating FlytoPlaces, Perumal had an extensive entrepreneurial history, including a successful exit of the business-to-commerce e-commerce website he had founded. But he had never created a smartphone app. It was a learning curve, but one the aviator was excited to tackle. 

“It took me several months to put this project together,” he said. “I spoke to a number of pilots concerning how they find places to fly to, where they store this data, and how convenient it is to access. Before I could commence the app development, I set a goal to exceed 100 waitlist sign-ups. I didn’t want to resolve a problem that had no demand. As people were enrolling in the beta app waitlist, and [I] saw an influx of encouraging emails, I began coding the app. I’m still continually upgrading it with features people want. I’m always examining analytics for the app and asking users about their experience with it.”

One of the app’s most recent updates not only added more fly-in destinations, including a multitude of on-airport resorts, but also new categories for pilots to peruse. These include events, as well as a directory of aviation resources (A&P mechanics, avionics shops, paint facilities, and more). 

With the hundreds of locations Perumal has personally added to FlytoPlaces, which are a few of his favorite destinations? 

“St. Simons Island, Georgia, is a real gem with its hotel on the field (KSSI), beautiful beaches and quaint town, making it the perfect getaway,” he said. “Not far from St. Simons is Charleston, South Carolina, an amazing living museum. Newport, Rhode Island. is equally breathtaking. I have visited Portland, Maine, many times due to its proximity to the airport, seafood, and a town with lots to do. Billy Bishop Airport (CYTZ) in Toronto is a must-see for pilots—the view of the city from the sky never gets old. Montreal and Quebec City in Canada are just like being in Europe.

“As I’m on the East Coast, I have an extensive list of places I want to visit, especially after I was able to check the Bahamas off my bucket list. My research for the Bahamas trip had to be very thorough, and I even included the necessary customs procedures, islands for first-time pilots, etc. in the app.”

A look at the FlytoPlaces app, showing several of the searchable sections of the app. [Credit: FlytoPlaces]

One of the most popular parts of the FlytoPlaces app is the fly-in resorts section. [Credit: FlytoPlaces]

The app has built in artificial intelligence (AI) logic, which helps pilots create an itinerary of their own, including customs information, ground transport options, access to groceries, and other aspects. All of these locations within the service’s repository were added by Perumal, who has either personally flown there or found them through extensive online research. Each airport’s data is provided with the caveat that it is for advisory purposes only and not to be used for navigation or taken as procedural advice. There are embedded links to Google and ForeFlight, so that users can quickly verify the information as accurate and current. There are also disclaimers for information that changes regularly, such as restaurant operating hours.

When asked about some of the more unique destinations featured in the tool, Perumal provided several, including some that are on the top of his list to visit. 

“The fly-in resorts are absolutely an experience to be had,” he said. “Florida’s River Ranch Resort offers a variety of accommodations, such as covered wagons and glamping, plus activities such as horseback riding. Also, one can visit Washington [state’s] Roche Harbor Resort and North Carolina’s Mountain Air in Burnsville, all of which are fly-in communities with Airbnbs available. Not to mention all the amazing fly-in camping destinations with hot showers, crew cars and other amenities available to make fly-in camping that much more enjoyable. There are just too many to list, which is why the app exists in the first place.

“I’m eager to visit Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod, which are at the top of my list. Additionally, I’ve heard a lot about Mackinac Island in Michigan and Ocean City in Maryland, as I’m fond of being by the sea. Lastly, naturally, I’m interested in visiting more places in the Bahamas. Without hearing about destinations from other pilots, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to visit the majority of the places I have been. This app should inspire other pilots to fly more often and discover destinations they may not have otherwise known about.” 

The post FlytoPlaces Provides an App for That appeared first on FLYING Magazine.

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