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Former Navy officer uses YouTube to show people the life of an aviator

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The 2024 Sea, Air, Space Exposition features men and women in uniform with talents that extend beyond their military training, including this episode’s interviewee. Host Ryan Robertson interviewed Lt. Rob Roy, creator of the YouTube channel “Fly Rob Roy,” which gives viewers an inside look at life as a naval aviator.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Ryan Robertson: All right, Lt. Rob Roy, formerly with the U.S. Navy. Thank you so much for joining us for this conversation on Weapons and Warfare. Really just want to kind of dive right in. I mean, you were a lieutenant in the Navy, you flew propeller planes. How did you how did you get into it? Where did you start?

Rob Roy: Thanks for having me, Ryan. Yeah, I was a lieutenant in the United States Navy. I got out about two years ago. I got commissioned at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2011 [SIC] and then I went to flight school shortly thereafter, Pensacola, Corpus Christi, Texas, Meridian, Mississippi, back to Corpus, and then ultimately sort of flying the mighty C-2 Greyhound at a Norfolk, Virginia, in the mid 2010s — with VRC 40 — my squadron.

Ryan Robertson: For folks who don’t know, the C-2 Greyhound is one of, what, two propeller planes that can land on aircraft carriers?

Rob Roy: Yeah, the E-2 Hawkeye. It’s got the big dome on top, so people seeing the recent Top Gun Maverick movie, there’s a two-and-a-half second shot of a Hawkeye controlling the aircraft, basically.

We are a version of that. Take away the dome, same propellers, same cockpit basically, but a lot fatter of a body of an aircraft and take away all the officers in the back and replace them with 30 souls. So couple aircrew and a lot of passengers or 10,000 pounds of cargo or a combination of the two.

So we were the COD for the air wing, the carrier onboard deliveries. We brought all the mail cargo, people, distinguished visitors, supplies, engine cars. We were literally Uber for the Navy and Amazon Prime, basically.

Thirty years ago, I had USPS Postal Service patch and I would bring on, like, pizzas and shawarmas. Some people would get tuxedos and suits at the local markets overseas — they would go there on their liberty call — and three weeks later, we’d like pick up all their orders and bring out huge boxes of custom-made suits and whatnot to the to the air wing. Yeah, it’s good time.

Ryan Robertson: You have a YouTube channel, you started it when you got out of the service, is that right?

Rob Roy: I started it in fall 2020 because, like everyone else, I was kind of bored and COVID. So I upload these videos, in the fall 2020 — or a couple of them. I knew that they would pop with like 10,000, maybe 100,000 views, [I had] no idea that would get millions of views, a few weeks and months later. Because when I recorded it, it was for my wife and my mom, basically, I put [the video] on Facebook, got, you know, 1,000 views, whatever.

I didn’t record it for the whole point of YouTube. I mean, if I could do it over again today, knowing what I know about building a brand, and even telling the Navy story, it’d be like, “Hey guys, let’s follow me out to the… we’re gonna…” I didn’t know that.

You’re so focused on the mission, it was a lot of during pre-flight, you know, certainly before I did the first couple, it was really testing like, will these work? Are these GoPro grips gonna hold, kind of thing.

Once all that was dialed in, it was like, you know — because I’m not trying to be a nuisance to my co-pilot, to the aircrew, to the mission — so you get it quick, and then you’re like, “Okay, I’m focusing on the carrier landing on the boat and then working, we’re about 10 mins from landing,” and you’re done.

If you watch the videos, I’m completely focused on the task at hand, I kind of forget there’s even a GoPro there. Maybe one or two, I’m getting ready to take a catapult shot I kind of look at it because we’re just literally waiting to launch that point. But yeah, that’s how it all started. 

Ryan Robertson: Thank you for launching this, because you give people insight into something that we don’t see on an everyday basis, and you have a good personality and you add some humor to it. So from your audience perspective, I understand why it popped. 

So when the when the idea came, like, “Hey, you know, these videos are doing pretty well. I’m going to start leaning into it.” Obviously, you’ve gained some notoriety within the world of YouTube streamers and all that kind of thing. What’s been the personal impact? Like do you get recognized when you’re out and about?

Rob Roy: I’ve been recognized twice. Once was at a restaurant in Washington state, during COVID with a mask on and everything, and that was kind of very surprising. I kept hearing “Rob Roy,” [I thought] maybe I’m like, hearing things. And they were being really nice. And then one of the times was at Oshkosh, which kind of made sense because I was there at the big air show. But no, nothing too crazy.

I think the reason is because in a lot of my videos my visor is down. We didn’t wear a mask like all the Hornet guys — can’t even see who they are — but visors down. You can’t hear me talking because, again, I recorded in 2015. I wanted to record the audio but I just couldn’t get the time between Amazon and you know, BH Photo and Video. I couldn’t find the adapter for the very specific Navy plugs.

So yeah, I think as my channel grows and pivots — I’m kind of moving towards more of a general aviation direction in the next couple weeks and months — I think it will definitely get more exposure with my face and my voice. A lot of my Navy buddies have reached out and just said they liked what I’m doing, you know, representing the Navy in a good light.

Ryan Robertson: I think that’s just about all the questions that I had for you today. Really appreciate your time, Lt. Rob Roy.

To hear more from Roy, listen to Weapons and Warfare bonus podcast with the entire conversation about his life in the Navy and his take on what challenges the Navy is facing today.

Access the full Weapons and Warfare episode here.

Access all Weapons and Warfare podcast episodes here.

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[RYAN ROBERTSON]

ONE THING YOU GET AN APPRECIATION FOR WHEN YOU COME TO EVENTS LIKE ‘SEA, AIR, SPACE 2024’ IS THE WIDE CROSS SECTION OF AMERICA THAT IS REPRESENTED BY OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM. PEOPLE WITH TALENTS THAT EXTEND WELL BEYOND THEIR MILITARY TRAINING. LIKE THE SUBJECT OF OUR DEBRIEF THIS WEEK. 

[ROB ROY YT]

“MEATBALL, lineup, AOA. Meatball, lineup, AOA. Ball… BALL! BALL!! I’M NOT SO SURE ABOUT THIS ONE!!! Oh, we’re good, it’s not that scary But there’s a ton that has to happen before we ever get to this point. ” 

[RYAN ROBERTSON]

THAT’S FROM A CLIP CALLED ‘BEST ARRESTED LANDING NARRATION DOT DOT DOT EVER QUESTION MARK,” AND IT’S FROM THE ‘FLY ROB ROY’ YOUTUBE CHANNEL. A PLACE THAT OFFERS VIEWERS AN INSIDE LOOK A LIFE AS A NAVAL AVIATOR. AND IT PROMPTED US TO WANT TO KNOW MORE, SO I RECENTLY SAT DOWN WITH THIS CONTENT CREATOR TO LEARN  ABOUT HIS STORY. 

All right, Lieutenant Rob Roy, formerly with the U.S. Navy. Thank you so much for joining us for this conversation on Weapons and Warfare. Really just want to kind of dive right in. I mean, you were a lieutenant in the Navy, you flew propeller planes. How did you how did you get into it? Where did you start?

{ROB ROY} 

Thanks for having me, Ryan. Yeah, I was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. I got out about two years ago. I got commissioned at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland 2011 [SIC] And then I went to flight school shortly thereafter, Pensacola, Corpus Christi, Texas, Meridian, Mississippi back to Corpus, and then ultimately sort of flying the mighty sea to Greyhound at a Norfolk Virginia in the mid 2000 10s. With VRC 40 my squadron.

{RYAN ROBERTSON} 

For folks who don’t know the C-2 Greyhound is one of what two propeller planes that can land on aircraft carriers?

{ROB ROY} 

Yeah, the E-2 Hawkeye, it’s got the big dome on top, so if people see in the recent Top Gun Maverick movie, there’s a two-and-a-half second shot of a Hawke you know, controlling the aircraft. Basically, we are a version of that take away the dome, same propellers same cockpit basically, but a lot fatter of a body of an aircraft and take away all the officers in the back and replace them with 30 souls. So couple aircrew and a lot of passengers or 10,000 pounds of cargo or a combination of the two. So we were the cod for the air wing, the carrier onboard deliveries, we brought all the male cargo, people distinguished visitors supply engine cars for the Navy, we were literally Uber for the Navy and Amazon Prime basically delivers to the Navy, I had an Amazon Prime patch. 30 years ago, I had USPS Postal Service patch so and I would bring on like pizzas and shawarmas. And some people would get tuxedos and suits at the local markets overseas and like they would go there on their liberty call. And three weeks later, we’d like pick up all their orders and bring out huge boxes of custom-made suits and whatnot to the to the air wing. Yeah, it’s good time.

{RYAN ROBERTSON} 

You have a YouTube channel? And it’s you know, you started it, obviously, when you got out of the service, is that right?

{ROB ROY} 

I started it and fall 2020 Because like everyone else, I was kind of bored and COVID. So I upload these videos, in the fall 2020 are a couple of them. I knew that they would pop with like 10,000, maybe 100,000 views, no idea, no idea that would get millions of views, a few weeks and months later, because when I recorded it, it was from my wife and my mom, basically I put on Facebook, like, you know, 1000 views, whatever. And then record it for the whole point of YouTube. I mean, if I could do it over again today, knowing what I know about building a brand and, and even telling the Navy story. It’d be like, Hey, guys, you know, let’s follow me out to the we’re gonna get right. I didn’t know that. Right. I just I just you’re so focused on the mission. It was a lot of during pre-flight, you know, certainly before I did the first couple, it was really testing like, will these work? Are these GoPro grips gonna hold kind of thing. Once all that was dialed in. It was like, you know, because I’m not trying to be a nuisance to my co-pilot to the aircrew to the mission. So like you get it. There’s more important things to play than yeah, quick. And then you’re like, Okay, I’m focusing on the carrier landing on the boat and then working. We’re about 10 mins from laning boop, boop, and you’re done. Like you don’t think about any more than I just am. If you watch the videos, I completely focused on the task at hand. I kind of forget there’s even a GoPro there, maybe one or two, get ready to take a catapult shot to kind of look at it because we’re just literally waiting to launch that point. But yeah, that’s that’s I won’t start it. 

{RYAN ROBERTSON} 

Well, thank you for staying focused on the mission and keeping YouTube secondary. 

{ROB ROY} 

Oh, yeah.

{RYAN ROBERTSON} 

But also, thank you for watching this because you give people an insight into something that, you know, we don’t see on an everyday basis, and you have a good personality and you had some humor to it. So yeah, from from your audience perspective, I understand why it popped. 

{ROB ROY} 

So when the when the idea came to do like, hey, you know, these videos are doing pretty well. I’m going to start leaning into it. Like, obviously, you’ve gained some notoriety within the world of, you know, YouTube streamers and all that kind of thing. What’s kind of been the, the personal impact, like you get recognized when you’re out and about I’ve been recognized

twice, like, actually randomly once was at a restaurant in Washington State and just with during COVID with a mask on and everything. And that was kind of very surprising. I kept hearing like, Rob Roy, maybe I’m like, hearing things. And they were being really nice. And then one of the time was at Oshkosh, we just kind of made sense because I was there at the Big Air Show. But no, nothing too crazy. I think the reason is because a lot of my videos my visor is down, we didn’t wear a mask like a hornet guys can’t even see who they are but their visors down. You can’t hear me talking because again I recorded in 2015 I didn’t really I wanted to record the audio but I just couldn’t get the time between Amazon and you know, BH photo and video like whatever I couldn’t find the adapter for the very specific Navy plugs. So yeah, I think as my channel grows and pivoted some kind of moving towards more of a general aviation direction the next couple weeks and months. I think it will definitely get more exposure with my face and my voice but the time you know a lot of my navy buddies have reached out and just you know, said they liked what I’m doing. then, you know representing the Navy in a good light.

{RYAN ROBERTSON} 

I think that’s just about all the questions that I had for you today. Really appreciate your time, Lieutenant Rob Roy, and we talked about this before we hit recording but your namesake is awesome. And for folks who are not fans of history, you should look up Rob Roy, not just the movie that Liam Neeson was in but also the man from history, right? 

{ROB ROY} 

Yeah, great guy. Yeah, no relation, unfortunately to the McGregor clan, I wish that I was. But I pay a lot of respect to Rob Roy. And I feel like if any McGregors in Scotland listening want to give me a free pass to a clan meeting. I’d love to join up because I have a lot of, you know, a lot of feelings in my heart because my whole life just you know, been associated with with him and whatnot. He’ll be somebody I think it’s a call sign but now it’s my real name.

[RYAN ROBERTSON]

A BIG THANK YOU TO ROB, IF YOU WANT TO HEAR MORE FROM HIM, WE’LL BE RELEASING A BONUS PODCAST THAT INCLUDES OUR ENTIRE CONVERSATION ABOUT HIS LIFE IN THE NAVY, AND HIS TAKE ON WHAT CHALLENGES THE NAVY IS FACING TODAY. AND CAN FIND THAT WHEREVER PODCASTS ARE DOWNLOADED.