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Big Jet TV: livestreaming of planes landing during Storm Eunice goes viral | UK weather

It is not suitable viewing for people with a fear of flying but a YouTube outlet that livestreams aircraft has become one of the unexpected hits of Storm Eunice.

Big Jet TV has built up a steady audience over the last six years by livestreaming aircraft movements but its biggest audiences come during storms, when its cameras are set up on the perimeter of airports and broadcast for hours.

Big Jet TV

On Friday, the channel hit a record 200,000 concurrent live viewers for its stream of planes struggling to land in strong winds at Heathrow airport – more than usually watch many British rolling news television channels.

The host often praises the pilots and ground teams for their hard work and expertise in landing the aircraft safely in difficult conditions, while viewers’ hearts must go out to those onboard.

A significant part of Big Jet TV’s appeal is its founder and host, Jerry Dyer, who has built up a cult audience online for his unfiltered excitable commentary. Watching the channel is the transport equivalent of tuning into Sky Sports’ longrunning Soccer Saturday programme – except rather than having a retired footballer enthusiastically reporting a goal, viewers are treated to Dyer screeching with delight when a pilot pulls off a challenging landing.

As one wobbling Air Algiers flight approached the Heathrow runway on Friday morning, Dyer shouted over the wind and made predictions about whether the aircraft would have to abandon its approach and make a “go-around”.

“I think this guy’s gonna struggle. He’s all over the place. Here we go, here we go. Easy, easy. He’s down!” he cried.

Occasionally, he lapsed into political commentary such as when welcoming an Aeroflot Boeing 777: “Next in from Moscow, let’s give a big warm welcome – or whichever side of the fence you’re on – to the Russians, ladies and gentlemen!”

He told viewers that the storm was the ultimate test of pilots’ abilities: “They’ve been through all these scenarios in the simulators. British Airways train their pilots hard and they do try their best to simulate these conditions. But it’s like anything simulated: you’re all in a nice clean, stable environment and you can have a cup of coffee with you.

“Inside that cockpit is massively intense. You’ve got the non-flying pilot reading out all the parameters, the altitude, the speed, all that kind of thing. You’ve got the pilot who’s trying to control the aircraft, manipulating the throttle, getting kicked around by the wind. When the winds are very intense you’re literally flying sideways … A big load of props has to go to these pilots and all the other people who are working in the industry as well.”

Big Jet TV is a full-time operation for Dyer, supported by financial contributions from members who pay for access to extra streams. The two-person media business is supported by the director of operations, Gilly Prestwood, an early fan of Dyer’s streams who now provides technical support and keeps the broadcast on the road.

While mainstream news outlets – which often use Big Jet TV’s clips – try to contextualise the storm and offer coverage from across the country, Dyer maintains his livestreaming for hours: “Oh, they’ve got a big one coming, oh it’s a freighter. Oh mate, I can hear that coming over the bushes. That was crazy, man.”

Spotting an Air China cargo flight from Beijing coming in, he dubs it the “testkit express”, explaining that up to five planes a day have been flying in since the start of the pandemic delivering medical supplies to the UK.

But he returns swiftly back to the main appeal of providing commentary on whether pilots can land their enormous planes in the most difficult conditions: “Fair play to this pilot, easy son, easy son. Go on, go, go, drop it, drop it, yeah, nicely done.”