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Big Jet TV: The YouTube channel where thousands pay to watch planes

A livestream of airplanes landing at Heathrow Airport during Storm Isha on Sunday garnered 544,953 views on the YouTube channel Big Jet TV.

But the numbers pale in comparison to one of Jerry Dyer’s most watched videos, with his coverage of flights during Storm Eunice in February last year attracting 7.7 million.

Mr Dyer, 60, is the founder, presenter and producer of the live show, which now has thousands of paying members.

The aviation enthusiast, who lives in the "posh end" of Staines-on-Thames, five minutes away from Heathrow, told The Standard how his love for aviation and extreme sports turned into a business he is now able to make a living from.

This is something he credits to “commitment, passion, engaging with your audience” and the channel’s Director of Operations Gilly Prestwood, who runs the channel’s technology and “connects Mr Dyer to the world”.

Big Jet TV started in the bath, when Mr Dyer received a message from his nephew, connecting him to a livestream of Iron Maiden’s frontman Paul Bruce Dickinson’s jumbo jet landing in October 2016.

“What struck me was the thousands of people that were watching,” Mr Dyer said.

“I was like ‘that’s really cool man’ because I love an audience, I could just keep talking.”

Jerry Dyer streams planes live (Jerry Dyer)
Jerry Dyer streams planes live (Jerry Dyer)

Mr Dyer, who grew up with a pilot for a father and “aviation running through his veins”, decided to set up a Facebook account and head to Heathrow – “the best place in the world”.

He parked near the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel and walked over to the entry point of the northern runway and “stuck his phone against the fence”.

“The hole was tiny,” he said, adding: “It’s not like I can pan left and right”.

As people tuned in to watch and talk with Mr Dyer about the planes, he was “caught by the bug”.

He said: “The next day I did it again, and the next day I did it again and then eventually I got some scaffold planks and put them on top of the roof rack of my car and got a step ladder and it just evolved very quickly.

“I was teaching myself, doing it all on my phone.

“I started finding different positions around Heathrow and police kept coming up to me saying I couldn’t be where I was without permission, until everyone got to know me.”

Eventually, Mr Dyer gave up running his successful business installing and maintaining shutters to “100 per cent commit” to Big Jet TV.

“That transition cost me a lot of money, I was down at the bottom of the barrel really,” he said.

Gilly Prestwood and Jerry Dyer in Boston (Jerry Dyer)
Gilly Prestwood and Jerry Dyer in Boston (Jerry Dyer)

But things changed when Big Jet TV launched its channel on YouTube and started attracting paying members.

On top of this, Ms Prestwood, who was originally part of Mr Dyer’s viewing community, started helping him with the technology side of the business.

Now Big Jet TV has more than 390,000 subscribers and millions of watchers who span from five-year-old children to a 100-year-old who used to fly with the British Overseas Airways Corporation.

Mr Dyer said: “When the winds come, there’s always a lot more excitement - because I know that people are in it for the wow factor. The sort of ‘oh what’s going to happen next?’ Who knows what’s going to happen next?

“That mixed with my excitement, my passion, my knowledge, I’m not some bloke who doesn’t know anything about planes – I know about planes, I’ve got heritage there, I know what’s going on when that plane is trying to land.

“But on a calm day, I get just as excited, because I see and feel the excitement from the audience.”

Mr Dyer said humbly: “If I can make a living out of it, then great, and we’ve been rewarded for the hard work and commitment."

He is headed to Toulouse in the south of France on Tuesday to film the assembly line for Airbus Aircraft.