We at Social Nation are ardent believers of talents, creativity and the booming ecosystem of digital content. We believe in the power of ideas and that superstars come no more only from the big screen. Hence, for the first time we are stepping away from our home turf to explore the digital content and creator ecosystem across the globe! 

For our very first edition we sat down with Captain Joe who is a pilot, a motivational speaker, a YouTube content creator running the channel ‘Captain Joe’. Living in the beautiful city of Munich in Germany, Joe makes videos which give the world a closer look into the world of aviation.

Thank you so much for joining us Joe! How are you doing?

Absolutely amazing! Thank you so much. This means a lot to me. This is my first recording for India! I’ve a really big following in India and I’m proud to be able to speak to a great country.

Q1) You currently run a YouTube channel by the name “Captain Joe“. How did you start making aviation based content and how did this idea of running an aviation based channel first come to you? 

It was actually by pure coincidence. It was a funny day, I was at work. My father called me and he was saying I’m reading a newspaper article, I don’t really understand the system behind this aircraft. He was reading something about aviation and he asked me if I could help him understand this instrument and I said absolutely. I took him on FaceTime on my phone and did a virtual walk around with him around the aircraft, I pointed out everything and showed it to him and he absolutely loved it!

A couple of weeks later at my parents’ house we spoke about this and my father said that Joe you’ve explained it so well, don’t you think that your passengers could be interested in these kinds of videos where you explain stuff to them. That’s when I uploaded my first video which was about the “Sterile Cockpit“. 

The video didn’t do so well, but I thought “never mind”. Then I uploaded a video about “Reverse Thrust” which is something that a passenger can see from his window. That video had a million views in just a couple of days!

That’s when I knew I was onto something. I knew that people when they see something or when they need an explanation for something that content will do well on YouTube. If you see the first 30 – 40 videos of mine, they’re all passenger related. That’s how my YouTube journey started.

Q2) What’s your thought process behind each video? How do you come up with a topic/idea and then how long does it take to make a video? What’s the entire video making process like?

A lot of it is from the comments people leave on YouTube and DMs from Instagram. If I realise that this question has been asked a couple of times then maybe there is interest in that kind of question. Sometimes when I’m at work and there’s something I’m struggling with or if I find something interesting for the audience out there, then I come up with a topic.

Once I have the ‘topic idea’ then I record the video material I need in the aircraft and then I write a script about my ideas as to what should be there in the video followed by actual recording of me in the video. What takes the most amount of time is editing as one has to see what actually goes into the video and what does not. 

Finally there is the uploading on YouTube which also takes some time as there’s a description to be written along with proper tags, thumbnails along with other things that go hand in hand. Between the idea and the final output it takes about 2 days. Since I do everything by myself, it is a lot of work but it’s also a lot of fun. I enjoy it. 

Q3) Your channel is currently cruising at over a Million Subscribers. Anything special you did after hitting the milestone? What’s the difference between Captain Joe at 100k and Captain Joe at 1 Million. 

Yeah! When I hit a million, I was in Italy recording a video and we were flying in an aerobatic plane. I hit the million the day before we went flying and the following day we did the aerobatic flying which was my celebration. (Honestly no celebration could have been better than that for Joe’s channel

As for the difference, if I’m being honest, there’s none. The only thing that I think has improved or changed is the video quality, it has gotten better in terms of recording style, the speed of how fast I speak, the videos that are put into the actual video and the frequency of uploads has increased. But as a person I have not changed at all. It’s all the same, it’s just who I am and for me the subscriber count is not that important. 

The biggest success for me is when I see people sending videos or pictures of my videos being shown at flight school during their theory lessons. This is what is best for me. That’s when I know that I must have done something right as people enjoy showing my videos during classes. 

Q4) You also have your own online shop, which is the Captain Joe Online Shop. What was the ideology behind coming up with an online store and how has the experience been so far? 

The experience has been a lot of fun! The whole idea was by my girlfriend. She came up with this idea during corona time when we were home a lot and we wanted to do something so we came up with this idea of bringing out some products. It’s been an incredible journey but it’s also a lot of work! Many people underestimate how much work goes into running an online store, especially the whole shipping, packaging. We even pack the items ourselves.

Captain Joe
Image Source: flywithcaptainjoe.com

Now we are focusing more on digital products such as checklists, eBooks, tool guides etc. The key rings will always be there but the model planes and the calendars are slowly leaving the online shop as it’s also a question about space. We had a thousand calendars in my cellar! That’s when we decided to go more towards digital products.

Q5) One of the most catchy phrases on your channel is the outro where you always say “A GOOD PILOT IS ALWAYS LEARNING”. Tell us a little more about this quote, how did you come up with it and how much do you think it applies to life in general? 

“A good pilot is always learning” is something that a flight instructor told me when I was 18 years old and I was having one of my first flight lessons. That’s when I came across this quote and I really enjoyed it. This quote is very very true and if I compare this now to my work life, as pilots we are constantly reading files and come across bullet points about new updates on planes, new procedures and operations that are in place so you can’t just become a pilot and expect your life to be easy.

You constantly should go through books. For example when you have a simulator check, pilots have to study the procedures again and that’s where if a pilot isn’t in his books he will struggle at some point. 

This quote applies to me in real life as well. I’m currently learning French and have been taking lessons for it because I enjoy learning a new language. Then I also want to play the piano again. If you just sit around and watch Netflix all day, it’s not going to get you anywhere. It is entertaining but what’s the value you are taking out of it? That’s why I think in everyday life you should always do some reading, get some physical workout just to stay healthy and mentally at the top of your game.

Q6) Right now you are flying for ‘Cargolux’ but before that you flew for ‘Air Berlin’ which sadly shut down. Anything which deals with losing a job is quite hurtful. What kept you going during that phase? 

It was very heartbreaking when Air Berlin shut down and we were all out of a job. I didn’t fly a plane for 6 months which is a very very long time. I remember going through all sorts of phases. At one point I was happy that I was taking a break, on the other hand I was super upset that I wasn’t fine. All the emotions went up and down.

For the first month I really took a break from flying, I focused on other things but then I knew I needed to focus as flying is my career and I’m required to do something about it. Following that I set up a game plan which included all the airlines I wanted to apply to, all the benefits, disadvantages and the Do’s & Don’ts. Then I worked my way through these airlines. Luckily the airline I really wanted to go through is the one I really got. 

But this game plan of going through assessments, preparing through assessments, talking to other pilots, getting to know where they are hiring and where can I apply next. This took me away from all this misery, all the bad thoughts and it was quite uplifting during this miserable time. I decided to get myself out of this misery and I had a clear structure. 

One of the motivators that I had during this phase was the realisation that no one will come to help me. I am responsible for my own actions in my life. Take responsibility for what you’re doing, own actions and then you’ll find a way. 

Q7) One of the most beautiful things about YouTube is that there is a community for almost everything. Even on your channel we’ve seen other pilots feature for eg. Dutch Pilot Girl. Is there a pilot’s community too? If there is, what more can you tell us about it?

Yes! There is a little community. Michelle and I are good friends and we plan on doing more videos together. There’s a friend of mine 74 Gear who has become a good friend and we have phone calls every now and then. Pilot Emilie from Canada, pilot Alexander Williams in France, there are so many people! As a community we support each other, we use each other’s videos.

I’ve also been on a podcast called “Pilot To Pilot”. We have shared all our knowledge together. I’ve met all of them in person which has enabled the creation of this community and I’m always open and enjoy sharing knowledge on my channel. It’s a growing community and if you do things all by yourself then it might get a little boring. 

Q8) We know you are currently writing a book. What is the book going to be about? What has been your inspiration behind becoming an author and when can we expect the book to be out?

Yes! The book is very very simple. It is pilot related, it comes from a pilot’s background. The title of the book will be “Read And Do: 100 Checklists To Become A Better Version of Yourself”. The title “Read and Do” is also how we apply checklists on flights. The book aims to bring to you 100 checklists that will inspire you to think a little bit differently, a little bit of hint here and there and a few things about reducing phone usage, doing some DIY projects, having that honest talk with your friend who hurt you at one point. There are all sorts of inspiring little checklists in there which have been very simply written.

I talk about my life experience, why I think that checklist is good for you followed by the actual physical checklist. There is aviation in there and I do speak a lot about my career but it focuses on getting people freshen up their mindset about the world and thus inspire them to be better. 

The book will be available from the 15th of November, which is the date for pre launch (pre order) and the book will be officially coming out on the 1st of December. The book will be available as both an ebook as well as a physical book too.

Q9) In one of your videos you sat down with the legendary ‘Kennedy Steve’. Could you tell us about how the entire collaboration happened and anything secretive which did not make the cut.

This is such a funny coincidence! I put out a video about ATC and his conversation is in the video. Then I reached out to him in the video asking for him to contact me and he actually did! At the beginning I was a little unsure if it’s really him or someone who is faking it but then we exchanged phone numbers and the second he picked up the phone I could immediately tell that it was him. Only a week or two later I flew to New York and had this interview with him.

He is an incredibly genuine guy and he is really funny too. It is his natural persona and that’s who he actually is. Of course there were a few things we didn’t put in the video because he realised maybe I shouldn’t be talking about that. It’s something I can’t tell anyone but it was a lot of fun.

Q10) Besides YouTube, you’re also quite active on Instagram, especially with the “Motivational Monday”. Could you tell us the ideology that made you come up with these Monday posts?

Motivational Mondays started because of self help books as there’s a lot of motivation which you can take away and become a better person. I thought I have all these quotes sitting around in my apartment, why not share them with my community and they absolutely loved it. 

In the beginning there was a quote and an aviation related picture. But now I have moved to a more personalised note where I am actually explaining what the quote means and what it could do for you. It helps me to inspire people at the beginning of the week and some people take it seriously. It’s really nice to see that the people share the same kind of feelings and motivation.

Q11) What is your take on the current use of social media? Furthermore, how do you deal with the hate that comes alongside appreciation? 

In one of my videos, I speak about social media and usage of your phone. I think people just lose thought when they are on their phone, they don’t know how much time they actually spend on it. I have caught myself in this trap as well where you watch YouTube followed by Instagram and suddenly 2 hours just go by. While at the same time you could have done something productive. In my opinion our brain can’t take up all this information and social media platforms make it really easy to get carried away in thoughts. Personally I have limited my usage to an hour a day which is really challenging and on Sundays I don’t use my phone at all. It is really nice as I am there with my family, free of any distractions. I think we all should be going in that direction too.

When it comes to online hate, I don’t deal with it. In the beginning I used to get really upset. There would be thousand positive comments but that one negative comment which really put me off. It even got me distracted and worried. But after a point I thought to myself if I’m not getting criticism directly to my face, and some random person is writing a comment hiding in the basement then I just don’t care. Fortunately I have a positive community who will go right at that person!

Q12) Speaking of content in general. Recently we’ve seen the rise of short forms of content with Instagram Reels, TikTok and YouTube Shorts. Despite that. Why do you think long form of content will never die? 

Majorly because short forms of content don’t have a long lasting impact. First of all an Instagram story is only there for 24hrs and secondly how much information can you really bring across in 15-30 seconds. I’m not saying it’s pointless but a long video which you can save and watch again has a completely different impact.

When it comes to my content, people who are really interested, sit down for the entire duration of the video and in the end they know that they’ve learnt something. It’s true that Short form content is entertaining but after those 30 seconds there’s another video which will do nothing but distract you from the previous video leaving behind absolutely no impact. That’s why I feel long form will never die out.

Now we’ve prepared something fun for you. A Rapid Fire round. So fasten your seat belts!
3,2,1 GO!

  • Air Force One or Concorde. Which one would you fly?
  • Flying a passenger aircraft or Cargo aircraft?
  • “Yeah Buddy” or “A good pilot is always learning.” The better quote.
    “Yeah Buddy”
  • Your favourite pastime.
    Learning something new.
  • 3 YouTube channels you love watching.
    Dude Perfect, Mike Boyd and School of Life
  • If not a pilot then what would your profession be?
    Race car driver!
  • Your dream destination to fly to.
    Small little airfields in Scotland. 
  • Your funniest fan encounter.
    I chased down a fan by driving after him after I spotted a Captain Joe sticker at the back of his vehicle! 
  • One superstition that you have.
    I truly believe in Karma.
  • Your most favourite item in the captain Joe store.
    Captain Joe Sticker

Thank you so much Joe! Before we bid you goodbye. What piece of advice do you have for all the emerging YouTubers and creators out there?

I believe everyone should have a good plan as to what they would like to share on their platform. You should think about your audience, what they would like to see as without an audience there is no channel. Share the videos with your friends first and see what their feedback is but don’t just dive in there and make something up. Make sure you have something to tell and always be careful. Never forget, “A good pilot and a good person is always learning”.

While we are still in awe of this amazing human being, this isn’t the only thing we have in store for you. We will soon be releasing the full video to this interview which features a lot of interesting stuff!

Until then. Stay Tuned!