Travis Samson is flying solo… quite literally. There’s not a big drone scene on Bainbridge Island… which is about an hour outside of Seattle. We met up with him at this picture-perfect park.
"Being up here is great, it’s so pretty and everyone is so nice. It’s the best kept secret in the world is the northwest summers. It’s so pretty up here."
When people see your videos, they see this cool graffiti wood everywhere.
"It was an old wood mill, so a lot of the economy in the area was logging. They took big logs, milled them and made them into useable wood and floated them out to Oregon and places they need wood. Now it’s this abandoned spot and the city was like people are painting it anyways let’s just let them paint it so it became this art installation and now it’s just a really cool backdrop to fly."
In The rainy season, do you have to use the sim a lot? Or do you have enough flying opportunity?
"The thing about the NW rain there’s a lot of days that involve rain, but it doesn’t rain all the time. So most days out of the year there is rain, but at some point you can sneak out. My philosophy is have your stuff ready in your car and go “oh! no rain!” stop what you’re doing - run out and fly. It’s frustrating because you can’t fly all the time, but it makes when you can fly that much better."
You're not just here, you're in Africa a lot, which is something when we were in the AirVūz offices we were like "who is this? He's all over the place! Where does he actually live?" What the heck? Why do you get to go there so often?
"We have family friends down there and we’ve been friends for a really long time practically family, they run a game farm down there so we get to go at least once a year. Half the reason, well, a big part about why I like it so much is it’s unlimited opportunity to fly anywhere you want. It’s cool to take a second set of goggles and show people a VR of themselves flying. "I’m blowing your mind!” in real time it’s really fun!"
"There’s giraffes down there... The story with that giraffe, it’s a game farm and cattle farm… abandoned, like a puppy. It's like their big dog. A 20-foot tall thing. Sweet as well. So I got to fly around him."
I've only just met you. I've seen your videos, someone else had written "this guy is your favorite new FPV pilot you haven't heard of." How does that feel?
"It was cool, man. I don’t promote my stuff much, I’m not a big spotlight guy, despite doing this. It’s cool to get recognition. I could probably get more if I tried to promote it more. I think it’s nice and organic about it people discovering it, flight for the sake of flight."
Travis didn't set out with aspirations of becoming a pilot. He's never done anything like this before. He turned to the internet and found a new past-time.
"I was actively seeking a hobby. I just sold out of a bar so I had this big void in my life of what do I do? What do I do, yeah. Before that I was a brewer, I made beer for a living. Beer was my hobby. I loved brewing, i went to school for brewing and I brewed professionally for a long time. Opened the bar - I quit drinking and I was like I need a hobby! I literally went on the internet and I was like i’m going to find a new hobby today!"
Travis’ videos aren't his only project that's taking off. His podcast, The FPV Show is also off the ground and gaining popularity.
"So me and a few other guys as a joke were like let’s do a podcast and we did it four months ago and it’s been really fun. It’s getting bigger and it’s exponentially growing and we’re getting nervous because we don’t really know what we’re doing - we’re just three idiots talking on the internet. But people like it." VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Kendall Mark: 00:02 Drone racing and FPV freestyle are some of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Meet the men and women behind the goggles who are changing the way we see our planet. Kendall Mark: 00:10 Travis Samson, aka GAPiT is flying solo, quite literally. There's not a big drone scene on Bainbridge Island, which is about a half hour ferry ride outside of Seattle. We met up with him at a place that's pretty familiar to those who watch his videos. Travis Samson: 00:42 So, just being up here is great and it's, it's so pretty, oh and so nice, and uh, uh, it's just the best kept secret in the world is the, the northwest summers. It's so pretty up here. Kendall Mark: 00:52 You know when people see your videos, they just see this cool graffiti structure with a bunch of wood everywhere. Travis Samson: 00:56 Yeah, so, um, it's, it was an old, uh, wood mill, um, so a lot of the economy on the island and, and this area in general was logging. And so, they'd, like, process a bunch of them. They took, like, big logs, floated them in, killed them, I'm not sure what that entails. You know, they made them into usable wood, and then they put them in the Bay, and then floated them out to, like, Oregon, and other places where they need wood. Travis Samson: 01:16 Um, and so, now it's just kind of this abandoned spot, and the city was like, well, people are painting it anyways, so let's just let them paint it, and so it kind of became this kind of art installation, um, and that was just a really cool backdrop to fly (laughs) I think. Kendall Mark: 01:29 In the rainy season, do you have to use the simulator a lot of do you have enough opportunity to go out and fly? Travis Samson: 01:34 The thing about the northwest rain is that it, there's a lot of days that involve rain, but it doesn't rain all the time. So, like, you know, most days out of the year there is rain at some point, but usually you can sneak out. So, my philosophy is just kind of have your stuff ready in your car, and then be like oh, yeah, no, no rain, and then, like, stop what you're doing and like run out and fly. Travis Samson: 01:50 It, it's frustrating because you can't fly a lot but it, it makes when you can fly that much better. Kendall Mark: 01:55 You're not just here though, you're in Africa a lot, which is something that when we first saw your videos in the AirVūz office we were like "Who is this dude?" Like, he's like all over the place, like where does he actually live? You know. Travis Samson: 02:07 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Kendall Mark: 02:08 Um, what the heck? Why do you get to there so often? Travis Samson: 02:10 So, our family has some, we have like, family friends down there. And we've been friends for a really long time, so they're pretty much family at this point. Um, and they run a game farm down there, and so we get, we are lucky enough to be able to travel down there at least once a year. Like, half the reason, well not half the reason, a, a big part of why I like it so much is because it's just, like, unlimited opportunity to fly anywhere you want, um ... Travis Samson: 02:31 And it's really cool to, to like, take a sec, second set of goggles and show people that have literally never, like, they don't have a cell phone. And you're like hey, you want to have, like, a VR goggle that you can see yourself while I'm flying? And they're just like blowing your mind, like, in real time. Travis Samson: 02:43 Um, but yeah, it's really fun, and like, there's giraffes down there on the game farm that I can fly around. Uh, and ... Kendall Mark: 02:50 I saw that. Travis Samson: 02:50 Yeah, so the, the story with that giraffe really quick, um, so it's a game farm and a cattle farm, and that, they found this giraffe like abandoned, uh, without his parents, so like, that's probably normal. So they came back a few days later and it was still abandoned cause it was like lame or something. And so they just, like, took it in like a puppy. And so now this, this, uh, giraffe named Hugo is just their big dog. And so, like, he's just this, you know, 20 foot tall thing who's sweet as hell. Like, you can give him gummy bears and stuff. Uh, so I got to fly around him and it was very fun. Kendall Mark: 03:20 I've never met you until actually just seeing your videos. Someone else had written "This guy is your new favorite FPV pilot you haven't heard of." How does that feel? Travis Samson: 03:31 Uh, it was cool, man, cause I, like, I don't promote my stuff that much, I don't, I'm kind of not a big spotlight guy despite doing this, but yeah, it's cool. It's cool to get a little recognition, um, uh, and I, I could, I could probably get more if I tried to I, I don't know, promote it more? But I, I think there's something nice and organic about it, just, people discovering flight for the sake of flight. Kendall Mark: 03:50 Travis didn't set out with aspirations of becoming a pilot. He's never done anything like this before. He found it while looking for a new pastime on the internet. Travis Samson: 04:12 I was like actively seeking a hobby. I, uh, I had just sold out of bar, and so I like, I was, I had this big void in my life of, of, of what do I do? Yeah, and like before all of that I was, uh, a brewer, I made beer for a living, and like, beer was my hobby. And so I loved beer, and I, uh, went to school for brewing and I brewed professionally for a long time. Opened the bar, and then I quit drinking, and I knew, I was like I need a hobby. And so, I was like "Let's find a hobby." I literally went on the internet and I was like "I'm going to find a new hobby today." Kendall Mark: 04:40 Travis's video aren't his only project that's taking off. His podcast, The FPV Show, is also off the ground and gaining popularity. Travis Samson: 04:49 I had to shamelessly promote the show, so ... Me and two other guys, like, as a joke, were like "Hey, let's do a podcast." PodCast: 04:55 Are you actually taking your pants off? Travis Samson: 04:56 It's super hot in here. PodCast: 04:58 (laughs) Travis Samson: 04:58 Could you hear that? PodCast: 05:01 Yeah. It was very clearly a man taking his pants off. Travis Samson: 05:04 (laughs) Sorry. Travis Samson: 05:07 It's getting bigger and it's, it's kind of exponentially growing. We're getting nervous, because we don't really know what we're doing. We're just three idiots talking on the internet. But people like it.