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Ruth Favela
By Ruth Favela
Ruth Favela
Ruth Favela
Ruth Favela is Tomorrow.io's AI Marketer. She draws on over 5 years of experience as an editor, writer, and social media manager for AI startups, B2B SaaS, and B2C products. In her role, Ruth focuses on using AI tools to create customer-first content for the various industries Tomorrow.io has solutions for. She writes about weather innovations, AI/ML modeling, weather API applications, weather AI use cases, and much more.
Jul 16, 2024· 4 min, 47 sec

Building Hangar: Using Tomorrow.io’s Weather API for Aviation Applications


    • Hangar is a social platform for pilots, inspired by Strava for runners.
    • The app has seen rapid growth in a niche market, with over 3,200 users in under three months.
    • Integration of Tomorrow.io’s Weather API has enhanced flight tracking with weather overlays.
    • Hangar was developed using Swift UI and Firebase, overcoming technical challenges along the way.
    • The app’s success showcases the power of combining social networking with robust weather data for aviation applications.

    The world of mobile apps is endless and ever-growing.

    The world of mobile apps is endless and ever-growing, with hundreds of apps created every day.

    Innovative ideas continue to emerge, addressing niche markets and solving unique problems, often with the help of a weather API.

    One such app that has recently taken flight is Hangar, described by its founder Sam Sessler as “Strava for pilots.”

    In a recent interview, Sam shared insights into the development of Hangar and how Tomorrow.io’s Weather API has played a crucial role in enhancing the app’s functionality.

    Check out the entire conversation below, or read on to see the highlights.

    ‎‎The Birth of Hangar: A Social Platform for Pilots

    ‎Sam Sessler, a private pilot himself, conceived the idea for Hangar while using Strava for running. He noticed a gap in the market for a similar social platform tailored specifically for pilots. Unlike existing aviation apps that focus primarily on logbooks and track logs, Hangar aims to introduce a social aspect to flying, gamifying the experience and promoting exploration among pilots.

    “I started running a lot and I was uploading my runs to Strava and sharing with my friends. It was super refreshing. And I’m also a private pilot, and I was kind of thinking, why don’t they have something like this for pilots?”

    Rapid Growth in a Niche Market

    Despite being in a specialized market, Hangar has seen impressive growth since its launch. In just under three months on the App Store, the application has garnered over 3,200 users.

    This rapid adoption demonstrates the demand for social connectivity among aviation enthusiasts.

    Integrating Weather Data: A Game-Changer for Flight Tracking

    One of the key features that sets Hangar apart is its integration of weather data, powered by Tomorrow.io’s Weather API. Sam highlighted the importance of weather information in enhancing the storytelling aspect of flight tracking:

    “I thought a really good pro feature would be weather overlays. When people do use the weather overlays, it’s really cool to see.

    The weather overlays allow pilots to visualize precipitation and cloud cover along their flight paths, adding context to their journeys and helping to explain route deviations or challenging conditions encountered during flights.

    Choosing Tomorrow.io: User Experience and Ease of Integration

    When selecting a weather data provider, Sam was drawn to Tomorrow.io for its sleek user interface and ease of use. The decision to integrate Tomorrow.io’s API was driven by the need for a customizable solution that could seamlessly fit into Hangar’s existing framework.

    “I was looking for a weather provider and I came across Tomorrow, and I’m a fan of like a good sleek UI and easy usage, and that’s what I saw with you guys, that’s kind of why I went that direction.”

    How Hangar Was Developed: Technical Challenges

    Building Hangar presented its own set of technical challenges. Developed using Swift UI for iOS and Firebase for the backend, Sam encountered some initial hurdles when implementing the weather overlay feature:

    “It was really simple and it wasn’t as much code as I thought it would be. I had never pulled in like tiling map tiles before. I had this weird glitch where it was like duplicating the tiles. Eventually, I figured it out and it was a lot simpler than I was making it out to be.”

    To overcome documentation challenges, Sam employed an innovative approach by training a ChatGPT model on Tomorrow.io’s and Mapbox’s documentation, creating a personalized assistant to help navigate the integration process.

    The Impact of Weather on General Aviation

    Integrating weather data in Hangar isn’t just about enhancing the user experience—it reflects weather’s critical role in aviation safety and flight planning. Sam noted how adverse weather conditions directly impact app usage:

    “There’s been pretty bad weather here the past month or so. And when it’s nice out, it’s super windy. So I haven’t been up all that much. I can see my traffic slow down on my app, actually, if the weather’s kind of worse across the nation.”

    Future Developments and Expanding Horizons

    Looking ahead, Sam envisions expanding Hangar’s capabilities and user base.

    Here are some improvements he plans to make:

    1. Adding more weather overlays to provide unique insights

    2. Developing an “All Trails for pilots” feature to help users discover new airports and activities

    3. Creating a community-driven database of airport amenities and nearby attractions

    4. Expanding the platform beyond pilots to cater to other aviation-related audiences

    Soaring to New Heights with Robust Weather Data

    Hangar’s success story is a great example of the power of combining social networking with crucial flight data, including weather information.

    By leveraging Tomorrow.io’s Weather API, Hangar has created a unique platform that connects pilots and enhances their flying experience through data-driven insights.

    As Hangar continues to evolve, integrating comprehensive weather data will remain a cornerstone of its functionality.

    For developers looking to build weather-resilient applications, Tomorrow.io’s Weather API offers a robust solution that can be seamlessly integrated into various platforms, opening up new possibilities in app development across multiple industries.

    Whether you’re building the next big thing in aviation or looking to incorporate weather data into your existing application, Tomorrow.io’s Weather API provides the tools and flexibility needed to elevate your project to new heights.

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