I’m a full time content creator and travel reporter. This means my job is to create content for YouTube and Facebook. Most of my income (around 80%) comes from advertising revenue on the videos – with a further 15% coming from video sponsorships, and the remaining 5% between Patreon donations and sales of merchandise. After expenses are taken care of (an aviation channel is not cheap to run!) this leaves me with a modest salary.
I pay for all of my flights myself, usually at regular prices. The cost of the flights is just an operating expense of the business. That said, I do use several techniques to get my flights as cheap as possible – you can join my mailing list to hear some of them. Very occasionally an airline may give me a complimentary seat, but this is very few and far between (maybe once every couple of years this happens) – and I always disclose this in the video so you know when I’ve been given a free flight. Airlines don’t like giving away free seats!
Actually, around 60% of my flights are in economy. When I’m not filming, I’m more often than not in the back (I’m a tight northerner, I have to justify paying more money – and will only usually do that when I can film). The reality is though that there isn’t that much to show in economy! One airline’s economy is pretty much the same as another airline’s economy – you have a seat, maybe a meal if you’re lucky, and that’s it. There’s certainly not enough to create a meaningful video from. The other issue is that the majority of people just don’t want to watch economy reviews. I have created economy reviews before (especially when the channel was younger) and sadly they just don’t get the views to make them sustainable.
I take one trip to film every few months. Then I’m usually away for around 2 weeks, when I’ll film around 2-3 months of content to edit and release while I’m home with the family. Compared to when I worked in IT, when I was away for 3 weeks of the month, then I’m actually home a lot more now than I was then.
I had a ‘proper job’ for over 20 years, with a career in IT. Giving up that stability to be a full time content creator was not an easy decision, but was a necessary one to A) pursue a career in an area I love and B) be around to see my children grow up. Running a business as a content creator isn’t necessarily an easy ride. I still have a company to run, staff to manage and pay, accounts to balance, and I end up working longer hours than I ever did in IT. But the rewards for doing that are immense – and being home to see my children grow up is well worth it.
My equipment (as of March 2021) is as follows:
- 1 x GoPro Hero9 Black with Media Mod Kit
- Used for the vlog footage, as well as mounted in the cockpit of my pilot videos and connected to the intercom to record the ATC
- 2 x GoPro Hero7 Black
- One is clipped to my backpack when filming commercial flights. The other is attached to the window.
- 1 x iPhone 13 Pro
- Used for other footage in low light or where more complicated shots are required.
For editing I use FinalCutPro X on my Macbook Pro. I find it faster and easier to edit than my previous choice, Adobe Premiere Pro. I also use Adobe After Effects for some animation effects.
The flight map is a piece of software I built based on Cesium, with map layers designed on MapBox. This sits on a web server. As much as I’d love to release this as a public piece of software – it’s very clunky and I just don’t have time to manage any support that would inevitably be required.
As an aviation geek, I agree that the takeoff and landings are the best part of the videos. Sadly, most of the world are not aviation geeks – and including long shots of the takeoff and landing almost always leads to a massive amount of people getting bored and clicking on another video. This ultimately means you’re less likely to see the video, as YouTube’s algorithm punishes videos hard when they see a lot of people clicking off to watch another video, and you’re less likely to get the videos pushed into your feed.
I fly two aircraft from Gamston Airfield, near to Retford in North Nottinghamshire.
G-GALB is a Piper PA28-161 Warrior II, a 4 seater aircraft that was built in 1986, and is fitted with Garmin G5 avionics. I use this aircraft for shorter flights, or flights where I need to land on a shorter airstrip.
G-AVYT is a Piper Arrow (PA28R-180), also a 4 seater but with retractable undercarriage and variable pitch propellor, with a cruising speed of 150mph. This aircraft is ideal for longer trips.
Both are lovely aircraft to fly.
I currently have a basic UK Private Pilots Licence (PPL), with an Instrument Rating (Restricted) to allow me to fly in instrument conditions.
I fly from Gamston Airfield, near to Retford in North Nottinghamshire. It’s a lovely little airfield with a real community spirit. I would highly recommend Gamston Flying School to anyone local looking to either start or continue their training, or rent from a good selection of aircraft.
I first obtained my PPL in July 2001, after 48 hours of instruction. I flew regularly until 2003 when we moved into our first house and I simply could not afford to keep flying. First lesson – never take out a loan to pay for flight instruction! The ongoing costs are fare more than the instruction. I’d all but given up any idea of flying again, until the events o f2020 came along and inspired me to grab life by the horns, and get back in the skies. With just a few hours of instruction and a checkride, plus a long wait for the CAA to sort their paperwork, I was soon the proud holder once again of a valid SEP (single engine piston) rating and was able to fly once more.
The first step is to book a trial lesson with your local flying school. This is usually a 30-60 minute lesson with an instructor, and you’ll usually get to have a go at flying the plane under instruction. After that, there’s a number of routes to your license that the school will go through with you. For me, I had to do a minimum of 45 hours flying instruction, as well as several ‘milestone’ flights (first solo, qualifying cross country, skills test). There’s also a series of written exams to do. Once you pass your skills test, you get your license and are free to go flying!