John "Rain" Waters - F16 Demo Fighter Pilot - on Talk4 Podcast EP 67 - LouisSkupien

 

Louis Skupien & John "Rain" Waters

In this episode of Talk4 we spoke with John about his career, flying the F16, the future of military aviation, getting a huge following from posting the display videos and more.

 

Maj. John “Rain” Waters served as pilot and commander of the Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, showcasing the legendary aircraft’s capabilities in front of millions of fans at air shows around the world. Waters is a seasoned fighter pilot with more than 960 combat hours in the MC-12W and the F-16. The Georgia Tech graduate earned his wings flying the T-6 Texan II and T-83C Talon at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, and went on to fly combat missions as part of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. He currently serves as a member of the 20th Operations Group based at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

 

THINGS WE DISCUSSED:

 

👤John’s Backstory
🛫 F16 vs L39
💪🏼 The physical demands of flying a jet
🛩️ What is the best jet in the world?
⏳ The future of military jets & AI
👋🏻 Transitioning out of the military
✈️ The F16 Demo Team
🚀 Going viral on social media
😎 Lessons from the military


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This episode is available to listen to on all platforms by clicking the link below or visiting the @talk4podcast Instagram Page, following the link in bio and choosing any of your favourite platforms!

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TRANSCRIPT:

Hey what's up guys and welcome to episode 67 of talk for the quickfire podcast where we asked four great questions to unique and interesting people behind the mic today is your host Louis Skupien that's me and let me introduce our very special guest for today John his call sign is “Rain” Waters he's going to be answering some questions today John welcome aboard the talk 4 podcast please do take a minute to just say hi to the fine people listening and introduce yourself and tell us what you do 

 

Hey thanks for having me on excited to be here uh again really gracious for you to your host me it's somewhat different for me to be sitting on this side of the mic normally I'm doing doing the interviews over on my podcast yeah but as you mentioned uh my name is John Waters I go by rain and I came about that because I spent 13 years active duty flying in the air force and part of that is you do get a call sign if you're flying fighter jets unless you just really mess something up but I spent uh 13 years like I mentioned flying uh in the Air Force I was a T6 first assignment instructor pilot I think the Brits call them creamies they're so I've been told um and in that time I deployed Afghanistan flying mc2s doing intelligence surveillance reconnaissance and then eventually made my way to the F-16 where I did uh combat deployment F16 and then wrapped up my activity career as F-16 Viper demo pilot flying all across the United States and even around the world from Colombia to Bahrain and everything in between so quite an exciting time now I fly with commercial airlines I have a podcast the afterburn podcast where I'm just bringing people together tell stories and that's pretty much it so day in the life of.

 

That is so cool what a badass man we've got on our hands absolutely talking to you and then 100 I've seen the videos I mean it does not get cooler than flying an F-16 it's just ridiculous but okay so it isn't one of the official questions but I just wanted to ask it anyway so I've had Wiz Buckley on the podcast before his co-signs whiz and he told me that his call sign was from doing something remarkably stupid I've had another F-18 pilot um uh on on the show before his course time was Smurf and he they've been telling their stories about these cool signs and it tends to be something stupid that they've done but I'm just wondering your core signs rain your surname's Waters is that just the easy kind of pick for them or was there a little story behind that and if it's something embarrassing you don't have to share but just wondering well there's always a story and if anyone tells you one if they tell you your call sign what it means right off the get-go they're lying to you and then two there is always a story especially the Air Force I think um when it comes to naming a fighter pilot we spend a lot of time and thought goes into naming that person you can't always say that about the Marines and maybe sometimes the Navy like when you kind of burn through the night of naming the drinks are flowing and then whatever whoever's getting named lasts it's probably not going to be that great they're probably not going to tell their parents but with rain there is an acronym associated with it it was something dumb I did um and I can say you know I can attest my squatter mates did a very good job with a play on Waters and dumb things I did so there you go uh great stuff man yeah I thought so but some yeah whiz was kind of saying that in the old days they they could have like whatever if it was they were brutal with the cool signs but kind of getting more towards this era they sort of had to have like a a justifiable sorts of PG story for it but they tended to try and get around that sort of thing so yeah always always cool to hear about people's cool signs but yes so um like I said four great questions lined up for you today man we've already had one less one but we're gonna ignore that um I know yeah tell him about it you know the podcast how it goes and everything else the host but um if you're ready for question one should we jump right into that girls ripped the Band-Aid off I love it right let's do it then so question one tell us a bit about your backstory then man so how did this journey in aviation start for you and was it something you were super passionate about as a kid how did it all come about I kind of found the bug early on I would say um probably about 11 12 time frame years old and I was fortunate I grew up in a community that was surrounded by Aviation there are a lot of Delta Pilots where I live all of them were X Air Force and navy my family had nothing to do with Aviation my father saw the route of a pilot might be something that interests me so he kind of pushed me that way I went flying with one of my neighbours on it was a beautiful afternoon in a Piper Cub door open like it doesn't get any better than I was hooked and then I decided to pursue my pilot pilot certificate which again I was fortunate I grew up around a lot of Aviation people one of my best friends his dad wanted to teach him to fly but wanted to teach him to fly with someone else so on September 10th 2001 I had my first flight the next day obviously it was a catalyst and a big life-changing moment for a lot of people I think I was no different I saw September 11th is something hey I want to go serve my country and I was fortunate to be able to go pursue something in the military and go serve in the military but also pursue something I was passionate about which was Aviation so kind of killing two birds with one stone that put me on a path to where I am today definitely yeah and um wow it's a seriously good job and when you when you can kill two birds if you understand like that you just do such a good job of it too especially when you can be proud about serving your country but also doing the thing that you're most passionate about that's such a such an important thing but yeah tell us about the military then so when exactly did you join was it after 9 11 then um and what was it like and just tell us a bit about your service and what you were flying and and where yeah and so I mean I'll probably even say like you know I'm very fortunate I found that early on right because I think a lot of people don't realize if they're a teenager you know the runway is pretty short like you say you got you can always reinvent yourself and do things but it's really those 400 years that it's going to set you in that trajectory so I that happened when I was in high school and then when I was a junior in high school so two years later I went into college and then University we have ROTC Reserve officer training Corps so you do that concurrently while you're doing your academic uh studies and at the end of the four years you commission or earn your commission into the military so I commissioned the Air Force and Matt kind of put me on the past so 2007's when I became a lieutenant I spent about 15 months waiting to go to Pilot training that's such a big backlog which was a great year because they they still pay you and you get a hangout on a squadron I was fortunate if I went and um served down in a combat search and rescue Squadron a world I knew nothing about it was a great experience because it's exposed to a whole new Mission set exposed to the rescue piece exposed to a-10s doing close air support and rest Court the rescue escort for the the helicopters going in there low and slow um and you know I mean for a lieutenant I gotta ride around shoot the gun the mini gun and the 50 pound on the helicopter which is pretty awesome just again good experience but that was kind of my path into it after that 15 months I went on to Pilot training which is a year long for us and probably most most western militaries about a year is where you spend going through training and out of that year by earned my wings and they just love my personality so much they kept me for another three years to stay and teach in the T6 and as I mentioned I did a combat deployment to Afghanistan which was kind of non-standard but it became a standard thing during that period because we needed so many people we needed intelligent surveillance and reconnaissance platforms we needed more drones and we couldn't make drones fast enough so in that time period we bought a bunch of King airs twin engine turbo props slapped a bunch of equipment and people in it and went out there and you hunted high value targets again something it wasn't really super excited about going to do but it was one of those things that exposed me to a whole new Mission set and something different that fast forward as an F-16 guy later on down the road in Iraq and Syria when you're in a stack with multiple aircraft you have a better understanding what their capabilities are where I probably would not have gleaned or understood that being a young fighter dude that hey there is a plane sitting over there that has four people with high definition monitors autopilot and they have nothing but time to just look and analyze what's going on Meanwhile your flying formation looking on a tiny screen that's low resolution you know working hard to do things so kind of round about weight but recently went out in the other 39 Albatross with whiz Buckley incredible experience pulled about 6.5 G's just wondering then so comparing something like that to an F-16 how much more brutal is an F-16 than that like how much more crazy would it be if you were just like times you know 39 or something like that so I've never flown in l39 to be to be fair however I've flown aircraft that can't sustain G which I would say in l39 and I think whiz would probably agree you know the F-16 especially a block 50 the one I flew it's got a big old motor you can accelerate in the vertical so you know as you're going straight up and climbing you're still accelerating it's just it is a phenomenal machine so it's the sustained G's and I do think there's a difference going from about seven to nine G's it's an exponential pain threshold if you will jump from that seven to nine when I was doing the demo you know it's about a 15 minute routine in that 15 minute routine on average you know if Garmin is accurate with the watch and the heart rate monitor burning anywhere from like five to seven hundred calories in that short little window Jesus and you're pulling nine plus G's upwards of 15 times in that time span so at the time I had a very high resting G tolerance I think you know by six G's is kind of where I was hanging out which is like on the high side for resting tolerance right but nine G's I get hurts you know I spent about a year after once I did the demo where I like I could about 30 degrees left was as far as I could look without having any kind of pain it's got a lot better with like physical therapy and things like that but um it it is so crushing so an l-39 it doesn't have an afterburner it's going to deplete those G's really quickly now you're still going to feel it and you still can gray out and you still can g-lock from it but yeah there's a video out there I was actually flying with one of my maintenance superintendent and he just wanted to feel the pain and so we went out there and for 20 plus seconds we pulled nine plus G's just to call it a spiral a death and you're just you're on it and it is uh you know I weighed 200 pounds so it's like having 1800 pounds of force exerted on your body yeah it hurts yeah that's so cool actually you know quick question then so tell me a bit more about what you were saying about the kind of the physical effects of it because I was saying this when I went out in the l39 I I said to everyone that was one of the hardest physical challenges I think I've ever done and I've been doing sports since about four years old and it was just it was so difficult I was exhausted after that experience and literally it's needed food so I'm just interested that it literally went to Chipotle and just devoured it I loved it and she literally chug the whole energy drink I was buzzing like a rabbit after that for a few minutes just tell me about that then so how you've got the Garmin watching everything like let's say half an hour of flying how taxing actually is that on the body and how many calories are you actually burning flying a fighter jet just out of Interest I mean it depends right like if you're going cross-country from point A to point B you know A Thousand Miles whatever it is it's probably been pretty benign and you're just sitting there I mean other than thinking about when I'm always thinking in a single engine fighter wins my engine going to quit where am I going when's my engine going to win where am I going so it's more of a mental game uh that play in there versus like the demo is very high intensity high impact if you will it's a full-on Sprint if you watch some of the demo videos um you're you're not I actually have one or two up there that actually have the heart rate monitor where you can kind of see it going um and you know it probably doesn't go below 150 until the slow speed pass like that's kind of the first time you can catch your breath where you're getting you're still focused but you've just been sprinting for the last seven minutes get a 30 45 second break and then you Sprint for another seven eight minutes so again you can you you know again if Garmin is accurate you know anywhere burning from you know four to seven hundred calories is not uncommon just to get out of the jet after you know 20 being in the jet for 20 minutes and just be completely drenched some fun facts about the F-16 is you know it does have an air conditioning right but it is designed the environmental cooling system the ECS is designed to cool all the avionics and all the things that kill and break things right so priority is cooling that radar up front in a hot human environment or a human environment you have to dry the ECS out right after you start you have to run full hot for five minutes so imagine sitting in your car cranking on full hot on a summer day but then I mean it's I mean it's like having hair dryers just blow in there because it does move a lot of air volume yeah so flying in a place like Miami where it's just 100 humidity you're essentially getting just a few minutes where you don't have to have it in full hot so you're sitting in a sauna running a full Sprint you know by the way you have a gorilla that's stomping on your chest uh and ripping your neck around so there's a lot of physiological things going on the Viper has a recline seat and so your head is actually forward of your spine and doing the demo we call the speed lid it wasn't the geohimics The Joint helmet mounted queuing system like the bug eye thing that one with the jahimics it's actually like wearing a baseball cap almost you have about a pound and a half forward of your eyebrow roughly but now when you pull nine G's with that right you got 11 pounds and now your neck is forward of your spine even more and you're looking around trying to fight someone you know I've just heard my neck crunching and grinding so uh it it's a lot of fun uh but it's a lot of work and it can be very it is very taxing on the body on the seats as well trust me people that probably don't actually think about this like the kind of people outside of the military and everything but actually the seeds are rock hard as well I mean that's another brutal side of it too there's zero padding on those seats it is brutal especially when you've got those J's on you as well isn't it it's yeah it could be I think it's got you know probably an l-39 you know it's a soviet-ish design so design right yeah yeah I think the Viper had a little more ergonomics and then hopefully that 35 although I haven't flown F-35 but it's not you know it's not a lazy boy you know get get some pads and then a lot of f-16s we have flying around today have nine thousand eight thousand hours on them and while the seats have been changed out the pads are changed out routinely again it's not uh it's not super comfortable yeah so tell me about this then so what do you think is the best fighter jet in the world and this might be a question that you might come out of a blast answer like yeah F-16 because you absolutely love it but what do you actually think is the best fighter jet in the world just just out of curiosity well right under the F-16 um it depends what what the mission mission set is it's true so if you're looking for something like air dominance Fighter the Raptor is is going to be it I mean the maneuverability of the Raptor what it can see and what it can do is really impressive however you know now with F-35 that's I mean it can't maneuver like a raptor but it's taking a lot of the technology from the Raptor and things that we learned with F22 and now is incorporated into F35 which is just made it that much more lethal because if we're talking about near Pier threats or the next threat the the threat environment's changed and so you need some really advanced technology to go kick down the door with Advanced surface-air missiles and integrated air defense systems and other 5th gen Fighters but then there's also caveat too is like well if you know near peer threats have 5th gen Fighters and everyone's going to calm jam and GPS Jam when time comes to go across the border like you know initially once you're pointing at each other for the first volley you know who the bad guys are but once you mix it up now you have to go to the merge and now you're going to maneuver just like Vietnam and dogfight so and you know the Raptor is going to be much better much more maneuverable fighter so if I really had to pin it down um the F-35 just with what it is bringing it's bringing the Next Generation it'd be nice if this movie role as a raptor but you know it's yes it's absolutely awesome and just so I'm kind of feeling a little bit off topic here but I just love asking questions and it's just something that pops in my head so top gun Maverick fantastic move I absolutely loved watching it um whiz wasn't a big fan of it but that's a different story but you know towards the start you know Ed Harris he said he's talking about the kind of unmanned drones and everything we're seeing a lot of unmanned drones being brought into you know like the war in Ukraine and stuff I'm I'm interested then so do you think like what he was saying about sort of phasing out the sort of piloted aircraft do you think that's something that will actually happen in the future or do you think there's always going to be a place for like the fighter pilots and and real pilots in the seats I think they're all I mean again uh no one cares about my opinion I think you'll always have a pilot there but it would be and maybe an initial phase right you have one F-35 and he has five or she has five drone F-35 wingmen out there and then when you start talking about AI I mean we're already seeing it we've flown it we've flown an F-16 with AI we've fought them with AI controlled so it is the future there's some things that it it's probably that I don't know at least right now you could remove a human from and be able to do an Adaptive and dynamic situation like talking to a JTAG a joint terminal attack controller on the ground who's getting shot at and you know kinet plane look outside and Visually ID the smoke the jtax pop probably not so I think maybe maybe it's coming um or they'll be complete removed but my guess is you're always going to have a need for someone sitting in a seat but you might not need six fighter pilots sitting in six Jets you might just need one who's kind of leading leading the Gaggle out across the line that's a really interesting concept actually wow I hadn't thought of that actually it's a good point I mean where do you think I mean we look at these fifth gen Fighters and stuff and they just seem so Advanced I mean you look at the kind of even something like an l-39 or whatever um no offense with me by the way um you know that it's an outdated fight and you look at the kind of advances in the technology and just the general performance of these planes now in the fifth gen stuff I'm just where where can you go now with this almost like how do you improve upon that and where do you think the kind of technically speaking where do you think the improvements are going to be in the future in you know the next Generations of Fighters well I think obviously hypersonics is going to be one of them um I've the probably a parallel we could draw that people could use their imaginations right you know if we if we jump back 15 years no one knew what an iPhone was right but how much I mean how much of our world has changed purely based on just having that device in your pocket in your hand like everything we do now and we see how fast our world transformed around a smartphone and smart devices I mean now just imagine what what's happening in the defense sector with how we kill break things or survive Etc so there's a lot of smart people you know whether it's Hypersonic laser laser energy um you know you can go you can go down the rabbit hole and tinfoil had of uh now we're calling uaps unidentified what you know UAV you know UFOs right and the maneuverability and things um that those things are capable of if they're real or yeah who knows but so it's it's going to be interesting 10 years from now it's gonna be an entirely different landscape and that technology is only going to continue to accelerate I think at a faster and faster rate yeah it's fascinating because you look at these things I mean I remember when I was a kid my dad's first phone I mean it was one of those tiny tiny things like the screen was just I don't know how you could make anything else it was the one with the buttons where you had to like click six times and one buttons again to get a Capital C out or something and now you look at these things nowadays even stuff like another little example is when I went flying I used my old GoPro 3 to record the footage and I recently bought a GoPro 11 you look at the kind of difference in quality and capabilities and everything it's just mind-blowing so you look at the difference in these Jets like the fifth gen to the old of planes and you think and you just look at it and you just think it's so Advanced but how can you kind of Advance this even more but then I'm sure we would have probably been saying that back then as well would you say that that's probably the mindset too and you do you think these planes are going to look very different in the future from these kind of advanced looks like you know the f-35s and stuff I you know the in Gad Next Generation air dominance fighter is that's one thing our Air Force um the Royal Air Force both in England and Australia I think the Koreans the Japanese I think there's six different designs kind of out there in competition most of them don't have tails right and that's dealing with like RF spectrums and things of that nature so it'll look more like a dark star from uh from Top Gun Maverick again it'll be interesting to see if there's some really you know it's amazing to see yeah an F-16 right inherently that's the same plane the guts of it have been ripped out and changed out with with various computers and things like that but with slide rules they designed and created this fighter that is the most are probably the most versatile and most proliferated Fighter the world has ever seen so you have to think now like what is possible what's capable you start you know again using AI all these different Technologies are being leveraged red six is a company that I talk about but is founded by former British tornado pilot he was the first F-22 exchange pilot and it's wild when you see what they're doing with augmented reality developing that so you know you can go out there in an F-22 or an F-16 if you're fighting a Chinese j-20 you can go out there and you can merge in augmented reality and see a j-20 that's using AI that is maneuvering in relation to you to provide to fight its best fight against you um so it's it's wild to see just what I mean has transpired and red six I mean probably uh bond is gonna but probably 2 only 19 is really I think when they started that in like four years later yet videos like they've been out there demonstrating what they're doing uh with augmented reality and it's in such a dynamic environment as flight is wild to me I'm simple-minded though so no I mean one of the things I heard about recently too was I'm not sure if it is new or if that's just kind of like an outdated story or something but I've heard about this new helmet um that goes on the on the pilots and you can see straight through the plane is that right yeah that's why actually I did a breakdown video that I just have up in my my Clips YouTube channel with bayos at 35 demo pilot so that 35 helmet costs about four hundred thousand dollars Jesus it is an impressive piece of technology but the F-35 has yeah yeah don't don't drop the helmet that's a whole other story in itself but you know the pilot can literally look through themselves or look back through the seat um and then the camera's gonna transpose it fourth generation Fighters even Fitch in uh F-22 you're putting on night vision goggles that are external to your helmets you're snapping those on like if you're watching Zero Dark Thirty like you know the Navy SEAL is going right a house and if Fighters yet you have goggles hanging off your head which if you go pull seven G's at night now you have this moment arm that's seven inches out in front of your face that weighs four pounds so now your neck's just getting pulled down even more that 35 incorporates that they have the IR Vision thrown over their eyes as well as the night vision incorporated into the helmet so it's pretty well it's again it's pretty wild so cool isn't it and anyway before before we move on just a bit of trivia then so what did you think of top gun Maverick then how what was your opinion on the movie and how was it received so I I really liked it but I walk into it knowing that okay this is Hollywood in order to make it exciting there they have to have Liberty doing certain things like when you walk in and like well we're gonna over G every single plane every single day training for this Mission and like over geed to the point where it's going to the Boneyard and gonna be on a stick because you you know pulled 10 G's and a hornet like that plane's not flying again that plane is going to be a static display somewhere um you kind of forgive you know forgive them and give that Liberty because my son who's eight we took him to see it and you know I saw Top Gun as a kid right like that was a pivotal movie and inspirational to my generation that's his now that's his and all he talks about is top gun Maverick his buddies who've seen it they talk about top gun Maverick and flying fighter jets planes fly over so the importance of that I think is to me slightly biased it is really cool and important to get kids inspired about Aviation that's a great move it's a that's a great movie to do it so they did a good job there are definitely some there are definitely a lot of movie-isms but I just I just you know give them give them leeway to at least make it entertaining because if you did a documentary a Fighter Squadron you're like well this is pretty boring we sat and breathed for four hours you know Mission plan for eight hours and got 20 minutes of fighting and it wasn't that exciting uh it's so true that and it I mean back in the you know when Top Gun came out what it did for the recruiting was insane I actually saw an image of it off the top the Maverick came out the recruiters standing outside of this cinema right yeah they set up inside yeah that's brilliant it's so good to see but anyway then so question three so we've been through the military part so tell us about your transition out of the military then so how did you manage with that and how did it you know becoming part of the Viper demo team come about for you well so I still did the Viper drone team while I was in the military that piece was right place right time right qualifications I did a full uh assignment at Shell Air Force Base in South Carolina and a combat coded Squadron I was set to do a permanent change of station PCS to Holloman New Mexico to be a F-16 Schoolhouse instructor the F-16 demo job came open I applied for it again went through a couple interviews but right place right time I got hired to do that so for the next two and a half years I stayed at shawl and led the F-16 demo team and flew and did air shows which was awesome but at the end of that two and a half years that's where I separated from active duty Air Force which you asked about the transition and no one fully prepares you for getting out of the Air Force and what you're doing next there's a lot of stress because you're trying to figure out at least for me I think a lot of my buddies who kind of experienced the same thing yeah you're used to hey I got a paycheck on the first the 15th of the month let's say you get injured or you get sick like the Air Force is going to keep paying you and they're going to find a desk job or something like that for you to do my current role like you you get sick like you're not getting a paycheck now there are there's disability payments and things which is it's it's just a little bit different right um so there's those the kind of comfort blankets that are gone once you step out into the civilian World obviously a lot more freedom which is kind of nice but trying to figure out hey where you're going to move who's going to hire you to work for them you know you're gonna go to the Airlines and I was juggling if I was gonna go into business if I was going to go to the airlines doing interviews both in the business World getting ready for airline interviews and juggling all that so it was probably a tumultuous you know year year and a half by the time you say hey I want to start this process I'm getting out of the Air Force lining everything up starting to do all your yeah application prep getting all I mean just getting your logbook in order um because you know the Air Force does maintain it there's always a few errors but you have to translate your logbook into hours that you know UPS or FedEx or Delta or American Airlines they all want something different no one wants the same thing so there's always a little bit of a balance so the transition was probably the least fun I've had in quite a while I can imagine it worked out but it worked out it certainly did and um so so with the Viper demo team Webb was like your favorite place to have flown or done a demo or like just around the world like you said you've been around the world doing these things do you have like a favorite place that you've gone flying in it's really tough to pin that down because there's some iconic places of flying like flying in San Francisco like zip around Alcatraz and Golden Gate Bridge doing stuff that like you know Grand Theft Auto that you'd see you know it's like you know like this is legal and uh you know I'm going 600 knots across the East Bay Bridge to flying around Miami and again you're like on the South Beach flying down the government cut which has all these cruise ships uh you know flu is Memorial Day weekend flying over a destroyer that had all the sailors out in their white uniforms coming back into Port going across them and you know mock point nine um you know it's like this is a lot of freedom but so those places are pretty iconic to fly Rio negro Colombia of all places I I did not know much about Colombia until we went down there phenomenal time that was probably the most fanatical if that's the right word fans on the planet for air shows wow it is uh it is it's wild and that was an incredible experience going down there and then it's always like it was July and it was like 75 degrees so it was super nice that's sick so obviously these places you've recorded them with the GoPros and stuff and put them on the YouTube channel and it's done really well so just so just next little kind of question how did that start feed like that side of it and obviously you look at the channel it's huge you've got hundreds of thousands of subscribers and you've done really really well with the social media side of things so I'm just just curious how did that kind of start for you and what was the sort of trend almost in like that subscriber count with you did it all just shoot up from when you just posted these things or was there kind of a strategy to get to where you are now cost and stuff uh no so there's no strategy whatsoever other than the very beginning when I took over the the demo team this was in 2017. I couldn't spell Instagram um I watched YouTube occasionally and so I said hey what I want to do we're doing all this stuff we're flying with GoPros none of this footage ever makes it out there I think Facebook we we actually set a specific goal hey I think we had like 10 000 followers by the end of the season we want to have 50 000 followers on Facebook and so I made a really big push and to hey let's just do a bunch of stuff on Facebook because that's what I knew about halfway through the season it was actually after Miami the first time I flew it um the person who is downloading all the GoPro footage like they really just weren't putting anything out um come to find out they weren't doing any of that stuff and a lot of that footage had been lost so I then started taking all that footage when I got out of the jet I would download it onto my hard drive and then I would give it to them and so again we're still trying to encourage public affairs to what do what I wanted them to do right because I saw hey we fly in front of a crowd of 300 000 people or four million people at a beach or an airport right that's a lot of people you're showing showcasing the dod to but we can reach so many more people with social media 100 by the end of the year it just wasn't happening so I started posting short clips just raw Clips on Instagram again I couldn't spell Instagram I started doing it it's like I think at the time you know you can only do like horizontal videos uh I would do pictures and things like that and my Instagram just started growing and growing growing right but it really was Oshkosh the next year and I'll give uh Chris Snyder who is my demo superintendent in charge of all the maintenance he found some guys from Garmin Josh Mormon Chad din so Josh uh just saw him at Sun and Fun last week they convinced me to put a 360 camera in the jet did that and I was like yeah whatever they took it the next day came back and Josh pulled into the garminton at Oshkosh he showed me a one minute clip of what he did in that video I think that kind of like broke the internet I mean I had my boss's bosses sending me message them reposting it because it was the first time anyone ever seen this like you know camera stabilized in relation to the rise in the Jets rolling around there's fire everywhere so Advanced yeah so it just kind of grew and then when I got out of active duty like I just honestly during that time we just focused on Instagram our whole team just kind of integrated and shared a bunch of stuff on Instagram when I got active duty I thought hey you know I met a lot of cool people what's next and that's kind of where I Stumble I started listening to podcasts like hey you know what it'd be cool to start interviewing people so I did the podcast and then kind of concurrently was like yeah I have this hard drives of just terabytes and terabytes of GoPro footage and I remember um Mickey who is the Belgian demo pilot probably in 2005 2006. I remember watching actually probably like 2003 2004 because I was in college I remember watching his demo is a Belgian F-16 guy um and I'd probably watched that thing a hundred times I was like I have all this footage I need to post it well Mickey he was one of my F-16 instructors as an exchange officer um at Luke so I just started posting a lot of these videos just raw format you know just rip it off the hard drive and throw it up there with no no editing and I it's obviously a lot of the a lot of them have gotten a lot of views so hopefully there's you know another 13 14 15 16 year old me out there that sees it and then wants to go fly fast Jets because of it absolutely uh what was the kind of obstacles and hurdles to jump over with sort of posting videos from inside of a fight's Jets that's obviously in the military of that sort of caliber um was it was it quite a simple thing to get these videos out or did you have to sort of get approvals and stuff for that too you had to get approval the initial resistance there's a lot of resistance at time period like again when we started doing this in 2017 you didn't see the stuff on the internet really like May onesie twosy not that not perfect now if you go to Instagram if you go anywhere I mean there's f-18s and f-15s and f-22s and the F-35 like there's GoPro footage for days now um I had a several really good bosses at the time who said hey you know I would like to do this but at the time too is like you can use this GoPro with this serial number this has been tested by the engineers there's no RF interference and those things kind of loosened up over time like okay look this GoPro 4 is probably the same as this GoPro 4 and it's not pumping out any different emissions so if this one breaks we don't have to send this one to get it tested um etc etc what do you get all that signed off the other piece is the security aspect of it so um doing the demo like if I you can the data cartridge can classify the jet pretty quickly and so doing the demo at home I would actually fly with the data cartridge would give me auto ground conclusion avoidance system a g cast going off station to an air show if you're Landing in you know Chicago or Miami there's nowhere to store that data cartridge which is classified so I'd fly without a data cartridge so without the data cartridge there's no way to make it a classified jet so then it was a pretty easy argument again I had really good bosses and a really good individual Hyde who is running all the security and responsible security at the time who used common sense and said yeah there's no way you can physically make you cannot there's no way you can spill classified information unless you just turn to the camera and spill your secrets verbally um and they just they okayed it so then we were just off the races we'd have five GoPros every single time and it was a again it still was a real challenge to get what I wanted which was that volume of content out there like hey this isn't to be well polished people want to see just kind of the raw footage so if we fly in Vero Beach this weekend we need to get that out tonight or tomorrow not three weeks from now we're on another show yeah um and our public affairs I had some great public affairs officers uh with us and then some that just really kind of struggled or they didn't see that that Vision necessarily the way I did and so some of that I just kind of took it upon myself to to push that content out there because I felt timeliness was an important thing and also like every single week you know you're racking up 200 gigabytes worth of footage so I mean it's still to this day like they're terabytes of footage that I've never seen the light of day just because I just don't have enough time but one day whoa it's good to have the content in store though for sure for anything um but yeah I mean looking at these kind of things you've done obviously you you can have the content and you can make you know one hit wonder or whatever but you've clearly done a fantastic job with maintaining this and you've clearly evolved it with the podcast too so um just talking a little bit about those successes so what have been some of the best lessons you learned from the military that you feel have you know had a big effect on you know your success as a person outside of the military too so in terms of like habits practices or methods what have you really applied that's that's kind of had a big effect do you think I think I've always been a hard worker um which you know if you're not working hard then it's probably not going to go well for you in the military I would imagine but if there's something I really gleaned I think from the military it's by honing the ability to handle Dynamic situations better be able to when things are going wrong because nothing is going to go to plan right the enemy always gets a vote whether that's my you know 16 month old twins they might be the enemy today and they get a vote they're not going to take a nap and you got to deal with it so it is handling those problem sets when they get thrown your way and just working through it whether it be in chunks and you know more platitudes right what's the nearest alligator to the boat like everything being going sideways but what's the nearest threat what's going to kill me the fastest what's going to kill me you know the soonest addressing that and then working it back because again rarely when anything goes smoothly but figuring out hey here's the battle space Here's the problems I got to deal with these are the priorities and being able to prioritize that and then work through it in a in a commenter I'm not always perfect at doing that but yeah I try to be I think the military does a pretty good job of setting you up uh for that because it's usually just here there's nothing good it's all bad news you know you're you're you got an engine fire Hydraulics out you know you got nowhere to land and the weather's bad so start solving problems you know you got you got no choice absolutely and yeah like you said it's just contingency planning too isn't it but what does that quote they say in the military I think it's um um all the plans go out the window after first Contact it's true isn't it and that that's the same in life too isn't it it's like you can never quite plan for these things but you can have the contingency plans and you can be as prepared as possible so there you go but um anyway well look that is the four questions done for today uh this is the moment that everyone loves the Shameless plug so you've got a podcast you've got your uh Instagram and stuff so please just take a minute to promote anything that you're working on believing or just send my people to to find your stuff man yeah well I I really appreciate you having me on here I have the afterburn podcast that's something that I really been working on last few years and just trying to bring together people like you um to share stories and I think that's the most rewarding part so people can find the African podcast wherever they get their podcast and then this year we've kind of pivoted to more of a video format so YouTube page that we're in podcasts obviously you can find the full episodes there you can find some of these flying videos and then rain waters27 Instagram and dare say even Tick Tock yeah so um I'm there in those spaces um as well so awesome stuff John thank you so much for joining me today for the talk full podcast man it's been an absolute pleasure having you on it's been a great talk thanks dude hey I really appreciate it thanks for having me no problem at all and yeah guys so rains uh John rains gonna be um he's coming to the UK soon so maybe get to see you there for a little bit hopefully at some point but um I'm thinking of doing Sun and Fun maybe next year I mean it looks so good so hope they get to see you there but yeah guys this has been episode 67 and if you'd like to listen into the past episodes go and have a look at our Channel and if you'd like to listen in for the future ones too make sure to hit that subscribe button and spread some love by leaving a like and a comment signing off for now

 

F16 demo teamF16 fighter pilotJohn "rain" watersLouis skupienTalk4

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