An interview with legendary aviation YouTuber Kelsey Hughes (74 gear)

Kelsey Hughes, known best as the man behind 74 gear, is an aviation YouTuber with nearly 800,000 subscribers worldwide (as of January 2022) and a commercial and cargo Boeing 747 pilot. Viewers can expect humorous and interesting videos based on a variety of topics ranging from debunking the vast amounts of fake aviation news on social media to reacting to ex-US President Donald Trump’s speech on how the Boeing Dreamlifter was helping the US during the global pandemic.

Join me as I put some questions to Kelsey himself.

Where did your passion for aviation first come from?

“Growing up my aunt was a flight attendant and my uncle also worked in aviation on the maintenance side for an airline, that’s where I was first introduced to aviation. My uncle was an incredibly smart guy and also a pilot before he lost his medical to fly. I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to be smart enough to be a pilot as he was the only pilot I knew and he was next-level intelligent. One day I was talking to him about it as a career and asked him if he thought I could be a pilot and he was so confident that I would be able to do it, I decided to jump into it. I didn’t even do a demo flight. I knew I was going to go for it so I started working on my ground schooling while I worked and saved up the money. As soon as I had enough saved up for my private pilot’s licence I jumped in and bought a block of hours and started flying every day.”

It's All About Aviation; Q And A With YouTube's 74 Gear
Kelsey on the aircraft he is best known for, the Boeing 747

What made you decide that you wanted to share your love of aviation with the YouTube community?

“I was doing some long layovers in Asia and thinking I needed to make use of my free time while I was sitting around and I thought “Oh sure, a 10-minute video, how hard could that be?”. I am pretty efficient with my time so I thought I could get that done in an hour or two. Now that I am 3 years in, I realized it’s like a full another job, but it’s fun because of the feedback I get from pilots and other people who feel safer flying as they understand what is going on during a flight and all the safety features in place.”.

What helps you to decide what to do next as a video topic?

“I try to keep my videos in a series. I think about something I would enjoy making and people would enjoy watching and I make those videos. I am sure there are videos I could make that would get a lot more views, but if I won’t enjoy making them, I won’t make the video. It’s really about finding an overlap between me making a video that I will enjoy and that people will enjoy watching. Sometimes I am spot on, sometimes I am wrong, but that is the process and then when I find things we both like I try to turn it into a series that both of myself and the viewers can watch.”

What has been your favorite video to make and why?

“I don’t know if I have a favourite video to make, but I think watching videos I collaborated on are more fun because of the interaction with other people. I think you get a better sense of who I am as a person during those compared to when I am explaining something about aviation and I think they are more fun to watch. The videos like my flying videos on 74 burger or some of the radio interviews I have done are the ones I think are really fun for me to watch and I also enjoy making them as they are more interactive and in some cases, I don’t know what is going to be said so that is fun too for me. In the videos, I film in my hotel nobody is challenging me in what I am saying.”

Dangerous Runway Landing With Sam Chui | 74 Burger - YouTube
In Kelsey’s YouTube series “74 Burger”, he takes other faces of aviation with him on a flight. Here you can see a video he did with flight reviewer Sam Chui.

Do you prefer flying for an airline, or flying the Dreamlifter?

“They are both similar types of flying really because someone is telling you where to go and off you go flying. Of course landing in the Dreamlifter, you get a lot more looks and sometimes you hear other airline pilots asking air traffic control what the plane is when they see you since we are so oversized, and lots of pilots have never seen it in real life. When you see her flying she is quite oversized. I enjoy flying the Dreamlifter for that reason because I realize every time I fly it, it’s something a lot of pilots would love the opportunity to fly; so I keep reminding myself of that especially when it’s a flight happening in the middle of the night when I would rather be sleeping.”

74 Gear - YouTube
An image of Kelsey in front of the Dreamlifter (Credit:

And finally, do you have any plans on becoming a captain in the future?

“Yes, I think every pilot does, but it is typically based on seniority and aircraft type. I have the seniority to be a captain on a smaller aircraft but not on the 747 and that is really what I would like to upgrade on. I like flying on the 747 more and destinations are more desirable too in my opinion. It can also be a challenging aircraft because on the 747 we do a lot of charters to random places in the world compared to scheduled flying that happens on other airframes; there are a lot of unique challenges involved with flying the 747 and at the end of the day looking back on my career, who wouldn’t want to say they were a 747 captain?”

If you want to follow Kelsey on his social media accounts, you can find him at @74gear.


  • Interview by Sam the Avgeek
  • (Cover Image)

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