I used to be a developer. I remember being so proud at getting my Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer qualification, and later becoming an official “Early Adopter” in .NET. The buzz from watching what happened every time I pressed the run key in Visual Studio, and then the sinking feeling when the red exclamation mark appeared was just magic. Today, of course, we expect to fail early and often as a way of life.
I still love to create techy stuff. A little while ago, when I was developing my pilot skills, I had a “must be an app for that” moment. Turns out there was. I thought there could be a better one.
Pilots have to deal with wind all the time. Its nothing to do with what they eat. You cant always just point the aeroplane in the direction you want to go, because wind blows you off course. The trick for student pilots is working out by how much they need to steer into wind.
I thought an app that did all this for you and printed the wind star would be helpful as a learning aid. Students must of course use the whiz wheel when they actually plan a flight.
So I decided to see if I still had it in me to create that app for the iPhone. And I did. It was a little challenging, but after a lot of Googling, forum reading and red exclamation marks, I uploaded my first app for Apple to review, and it eventually appeared in the app store. By any standards it is very simple (the most complex thing about it was the maths), but I made it, and people actually seem to use it. So I hope I made a difference to any student pilots grappling with the concept of drift, and that I got a little closer to my colleagues in the engineering team. The app can be found here.
This wasn't an attempt at launching a new product line or business. It was an exercise in personal achievement. If this were to be a serious business venture, then I clearly went about it the wrong way round. Building something doesn't mean they'll come. Best to test if there is a need for it first. But for now, it was a bit fun.
I don’t code for a living anymore. I get my kicks today from pressing the metaphorical run button on people, and facilitating great things from diverse teams. When a red exclamation mark does appear to be forming on someone’s forehead, I bring out the ambassador in me and carry out a jolly good debugging.
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