Some time back we set up a number of Twitter accounts that would automate the hourly posting of aviation metars for a small number of airports (examples: @YSSYmetar & @KLAXmetar). We were later inundated with requests from people that wanted us to set up accounts for their own local airports. It was a little time-prohibitive to set up individual accounts for every request that came through so I made a note to set up a standalone web based Twitter application that would automate the process for any user. I finally found the time a couple of days ago and I’ve set up a very basic service at weatheraviation.net.
Incidentally, weatheraviation.net was a domain I registered for a completely different purpose – but I’ve used it here simply for the sake of saving myself yet another name registration.
From a marketing perspective, and in terms of extending your online reach, accounts like these create another channel for you to distribute information every now and again (despite our own organisation not using them for such a purpose) and it’ll provide you with another mechanism that’ll connect you with potential or existing clients.
Since we retrieve metars from the NOAA database, we’re generally limited to fetching airports that have an operating RPT service – so it’s possible that your airport of choice won’t exist. In such a case, a nearby major airfield is usually a good alternative. You can check for the existence of your preferred airport by searching the airport’s 4-letter ICAO airport code (not IATA or other codes) here.
We’ll provide you with the option of tweeting the report (truncated to 140 characters) every hour, 6 hours, 12 hours, or once a day. If you plan on tweeting every hour, we recommend registering a new purpose account.
First, you should set up an account, write up the account profile and attach a profile image. It’s important that you upload an image to the account that you register because we’ll use that image in a directory of available metar accounts [ Image ].
Once you’ve registered your preferred account and included a profile image, visit WeatherAviation.net and click on the “Sign in with Twitter” image. Because we’re only allowing a certain number of accounts (initially) to determine the load it has on our server, you may see a red cross through the Twitter link. If this is the case, sign up for the mailing list and we’ll let you know when we release more spots [ Image ].
You’ll be taken to the Twitter page where you must authorise the METARS application. Should you choose to authorise the application, click “Authorise app” and you’ll be directed back to WeatherAviation.net [ Image ].
You will be directed to a screen where you will select a metar to tweet and the frequency that you want to tweet it. There is a box that will permit you to search for available reports via the 4-character ICAO code. Should you submit an invalid code, it may terminate your session [ Image ]
Select the frequency of tweets. This will be more customisable in the future so it’s more in line with your own time zone [ Image ].
If you choose to register the service, we’ll automatically create a follow to @MyMetar and @FlightPodcast. In the spirit of keeping the service free we’ll follow our podcast account as ‘payment’. We check the relationships regularly and if you’ve unfollowed either account your service will cease to function.
Last, we send a test tweet to your account to ensure the connection is correctly made. We’ll now start tweeting at the time interval you specified [ Image ].
As stated, only limited spots will initially be made (so we can measure the load sending multiple messages has on our server). Be sure to sign up to the mailing list if you miss out.
The service is very new and you may encounter errors or bugs… or you may have ideas of how to improve the service. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.
We have a lot of new features coming so please ensure you’ve liked our Facebook page or subscribed to our mailing list so we can keep you informed.
Want the code to run your own application?
We may be able to provide the code (and assist you in setting it up) if you want to run your own Metar to Twitter service. Make contact with us if you’re interested.
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