Flight Chops videos: learning to fly, with cameras — and without the ego
Pilot takes “license to learn” seriously, with 2.5 million views
Humble pilot seeks to improve flying skills and inadvertently gains loyal following, major sponsors
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Steve “Flight Chops” Thorne has been called the least cocky pilot on the internet, and that suits him just fine. With what began as a personal mission record his flights to learn from — and improve on — his mistakes in the cockpit, his everyman approach has resonated with fellow pilots and flying enthusiasts the world over. And, over the past few months, has attracted the attention of some big-ticket sponsors.
Self-deprecating and approachable as a host, Thorne also brings top-notch production value to each episode with his signature multi-camera, fully-immersive filming style and a strong team of collaborators. Every two weeks, an expertly crafted new episode (thanks to skills picked up in his day job as a film and TV Editor) goes live on his Youtube channel.
“Practice, Review, Improve” is the Flight Chops motto and its simple premise hit home at a recent visit with a group of pilots at Google headquarters in California. While the roomful of pilots and CFIs wanted to ask about flying a vintage WWII Stearman and onboard camera placement, Thorne asked who among them debriefs their flights beyond writing a single line in the log book. The answer was, “no one.”
With that, the proud boisterous tone in the room turned humble as the pilots immediately recognized the issue and the validity of Thorne’s point. He believes that one of the biggest things lacking in GA is a quality debrief, and that – his own early debrief that made such an impression – was the beginning of Flight Chops.
In the 1990s, detailed journal notes were based only on what he could remember, good and bad. However, in the digital age, adding tiny “set it and forget it” cameras to record what went on, including the recorded intercom, created a level of debrief beyond what he could remember. And he could practically relive the flight.
Now, 2.5 million views and 70 episodes later, Thorne has caught the attention of supporters and major sponsors who believe in his mission and want him to continue doing what he loves — though he will work only with companies and products that he likes and uses himself.
Supporters pledge micro-amounts for his productions on the crowdfunding site, Patreon. ForeFlight was the first sponsor to come aboard, with its widely used aviation app. Soon came other big players in the industry;OpenAirplane, breathing new life into the aircraft rental system, and PIVOT Case provides unique mounts for iPads, while iCloth Avionics® display wipes keep screens clean and help improve touchscreen responsiveness. Today, Bose® Aviation joins Flight Chops with its top-of-the-line A20® headsets. Popular monthly contests held on his website offer the chance for his followers and fans to win prizes from his sponsors.
While offers to fly in exotic locations around the world continue to pour in, Thorne dreams big. Most recently: learning to fly in challenging mountain terrain in The Finer Points Mountain Flying Adventure with noted instructor, Jason Miller. And one day, he hopes to master the greatest challenge of man vs. machine by learning to fly vintage Warbirds, unaided by modern technology.
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Available to General Aviation:
The iCloth is a big fan of GA and recently began sponsoring Steve Thorne and his fully immersive “Flight Chops” flying videos. To show its support, the company not only contributes to Flight Chops film productions but also participates in monthly contests and prize giveaways.
Distributor, reseller, and promotional programs are available, including special pricing options for Flight Schools. In a new and aggressive marketing push, iCloth Avionics now offers a free sampling program to all pilots, aircraft maintainers and owners on their website.