How ForeFlight CEO Tyson Weihs Dominated Aviation Apps

Weihs' bold vision and entrepreneurial determination helped spawn an app revolution.

Tyson Weihs ForeFlight
ForeFlight co-founder and CEO Tyson Weihs.Jack Thompson

If you fly with an iPad, there is a good chance you do it with ForeFlight leading the way. It’s hard to find an app in any industry that dominates the way ForeFlight Mobile does because it just works.

It has to because flying is serious business, and a lame product would have been laughed out of the cockpit long before it grew to become the go-to flight app for many pilots.

In the technology sector — and especially in the rocket-fast world of mobile apps — there are three things entrepreneurs need to succeed: a strong work ethic, some well-timed luck and the ability to push oneself hard every day. Tyson Weihs, one of ForeFlight’s co-founders and the company’s CEO, exhibits all three.

Through his early years, Weihs worked in restaurants owned by his family in Charleston, South Carolina, helping with everything from cleaning the trash room to waiting tables. His father immigrated to the United States in the 1960s with only a few hundred dollars in his pocket, setting the standard for hard work that drives Weihs to push harder and do more today.

An instrument-rated pilot and Diamond DA40 owner, Weihs began his entrepreneurial journey as a kid in the 1980s by starting a mushroom-picking business, in which he bagged elusive Chanterelle mushrooms and sold them to produce distributors. He built ­websites and wrote database programs in high school before his personal stock really started to rise in college. “In school,” Weihs says, “I started a business building websites with a classmate and sold it to a publicly traded ­company when I was 23, long before I met my ­co-founder of ForeFlight, Jason Miller, on the Internet in 2006. That’s when everything changed.”

Tyson Weihs ForeFlight
ForeFlight CEO Tyson Weihs is an instrument-rated pilot and the owner of a Diamond DA40.Jack Thompson

Weihs and Miller had both been developing aviation software projects and decided to merge their projects just before the iPhone was announced. “We immediately pivoted to focus on building software for the iPhone,” Weihs explains. “It was right place, right time. We had some software written, a new platform had emerged and we had the skills to build for it. Shortly after we launched the iPhone version, we brought on our third partner, Adam Houghton.”

ForeFlight quickly exploded in popularity, and Weihs had to draw on his naturally competitive spirit to face the challenges of growing an app that was on fire. “When the iPad came out,” Weihs says, “business skyrocketed, which meant recruiting talent and investing in offices. On a personal level, I realized that to be successful, we’d have to set up a culture for others to succeed, define what success means for them and support them however is needed.”

When revenues hit $10,000 a day, Weihs and his ForeFlight partners quit their day jobs and have never looked back. ForeFlight Mobile has even been featured in iPad TV ads. The marriage of timing, hard work and mad developer skills may be the foundation of Tyson Weihs’ success story, but it was pure entrepreneurial determination that caused this slick app to come together perfectly.

And along the way, it didn’t hurt that Weihs had a little luck on his side too.