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On a sunny day in mid-September, Jean Denis Marcellin stood in a hotel room near the French Riviera, turned on his cell phone, adjusted the lighting and began speaking to the more than 900 subscribers who follow him on YouTube.
Marcellin, a Global Express pilot with Chartright Air Group, acknowledged the beauty of southern France, the quality of the food and the extraordinary people he met on the trip. But he wasn’t sad to leave.
“We’re headed back home,” he said in a bass-heavy voice that carries traces of a Quebec accent. “Woo hoo!”
Marcellin continued rolling as he entered an elevator, walked through the hotel lobby, drove to the airport and began pre-flight checks of the Global Express he and Capt Sean Dubreuil would guide on a transatlantic flight to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
A GoPro camera, mounted behind Marcellin on the right side of the cockpit, rolled throughout the flight, cutting out just as the aircraft landed at Pearson and taxied onto the ramp.
The video was not flashy, by any means, but it served its purpose.
“I’m still a total airplane geek at heart,” said Marcellin, a pilot with Chartright for six years after stops with Ornge and two other charter operations.
“I grew up wanting to be a pilot, and that’s all I knew and that’s what I wanted. So to me it’s still the passion … I love to share it.”
Marcellin started The Global Life, a YouTube series devoted to the globe-trotting life of a business aviation pilot, in November 2016.
The first video was a simple time lapse capture of a flight to Pearson from Region of Waterloo International Airport, condensed to about 90 seconds.
But the series evolved into a video blog with cinematic elements, animations and in-depth explorations of the technical aspects of flying, from maintenance checks to the finer points of thrust, lift and drag.
“There’s lots of videos on YouTube about airline flying, and from the flight decks of 737s and whatnot,” said Marcellin, who is based at the Waterloo airport in southern Ontario.
“But there’s not much about Global guys, or corporate guys. So the idea was to disseminate a little bit the general idea of what it’s like to be a corporate pilot.”
The videos have generated several thousand views, many of them from other pilots–Marcellin’s target audience.
“It is surprising how some of the guys are reaching out,” he said. “On my last recurrent training I met a pilot who recognized me … and eventually I realized it was from the video.
“He said when he did his initial type rating, or when he trains these guys on the Global Express, he shows some of the videos that I’ve been able to create.”
A small but enthusiastic community has grown up around the YouTube series, and generating a dialogue with other pilots is one of Marcellin’s goals.
“I always put that on videos, too, that I’m open to questions,” he said.
“I love to answer them and create an open community feel, so that anybody can feel involved and included or learn from it.”
As the industry grapples with a global pilot shortage, Marcellin also hopes to inspire young people to consider business aviation.
“If I can reach out to potential pilots, young pilots that are training right now … I think that it gives them a really good idea of what corporate life can be.
“You know, it’s not the black sheep that a lot of people think it is. It’s a lot of fun. It’s pretty challenging sometimes, but very rewarding too.
“So I try to inspire them, and show them what it can be.”
All episodes of The Global Life can be viewed here.