Experimental Aircraft Channel takes flight online

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Humans have dreamt of flight for centuries. One man is realizing that dream, by building his own airplane in a hangar at Calhoun County Airport.

The airplane in question is what’s known as an experimental aircraft; a designation given to recreational aircraft that meet a specific set of criteria and are often built by people in their own garages.

Outside of a few parts, Bryan Walstrom chose to fabricate his plane from the ground up, using plans from a Missouri-based business called Zenith Aircraft Company.

“It’s not a very fast airplane, this will probably at best do 110 mph in cruise,” Walstrom said. “These plans offer the dimensions and the angles that you need to fabricate each part. So you literally go from the flat plans - and you draw and measure that out on the sheet metal - and make your cuts and make your bends, and wouldn’t you know, it looks like a factory piece when you get done cutting it. "

It’s been a time-consuming process, and delays are being compounded by a career spawned from his passion.

“I told my wife one day, ‘you know what, one of these days when I retire, I wanna get a camera, get some editing software, and just go around visiting people building airplanes and factories,’ and I decided one day, why wait? So I bought the camera and the software and little by little I started traveling around, and wouldn’t you know, people are interested in seeing this just as well as I am,” Walstrom said.

His YouTube page Experimental Aircraft Channel talks all things aircraft, documenting the process of construction while showing the world that flight can be achieved from humble workspaces.

Nearing 5 years in the content creation world, Walstrom has earned more than 140,000 subscribers.

“It’s many hats, right, I mean that’s what you do when you bootstrap a business - you do all the things. Between social media, between actual phone conversations and conversations I have with people, and then to hit the air shows and the travel involved it’s a lot to do,” Walstrom said.

His content covers everything from airshows to factories, and backyard fabricators building airplanes on their dining room tables.

No matter what the focus of a video is, the themes are often about sharing the hobby with those who might be interested as well.

“If you have interest, start,” Walstrom said. “It does take a little bit of time to get together, but it’s enjoyable. And the people that you meet and the things that you learn along the way, it’s just an amazing experience.”

For now, progress on Walstrom’s plane is slower than he’d like. But he is continuing to chip away at it while managing the difficulties of writing, filming, and editing content of his own.

“I don’t actually call this a job... it is work, don’t get me wrong, it is work. But it’s not a job, I love what I do,” Walstrom said.

Experimental Aircraft Channel uploads videos weekly, you can see what he’s been up to most recently by clicking here.