The Music Guy in the Sky: Joe.e Joins the Cast of “The Aviators” and Discusses His Aspirations Against Gravity
Joe Ellis reveals being pen pals with an astronaut, his anticipated return to the sky, and the coolest thing he’s ever done in an airplane
The Aviators, fans at AirVenture in Oshkosh met up with executive producer and host, Anthony Nalli. They also got a chance to meet the newest face on the show: Joe Ellis, also known in the music world as Joe.e.Just weeks away from the season four premiere of
Some people were born to do what they end up doing, and Joe gracefully exemplifies this. Growing up amidst a long lineage of pilots, he has heard generations of stories from the sky and spent a lot of time hanging around airports. His enthusiasm for flying and talent for all things musical brought him down an unexpected path, where we catch up with him today.
What part of filming season 4 was most enjoyable for you?
Well, I haven’t seen the final cuts of my segments yet, but I imagine the editors had a hard time cutting my comments during each flight, like “now THAT’S the coolest thing I’ve ever done in an airplane!” This is a cool show, and I have already done things that I would have never otherwise had the opportunity to do in my life. I’m just soaking it all up and I’m blessed.
This season also includes segments involving helicopters. Did you have any part in these?
I hosted both the Huey and Cobra helicopter segments, which was really special for me because my dad flew as a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War — so I grew up listening to fascinating stories of those birds. After my first helicopter flight ever, yes, THAT was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in an airplane!
Tell me what it’s like to work with Anthony.
Anthony is a cool cat. Given his success, and this may be redundant, I have to say I think he has all the requisite components to be a star in the aviation television field. First, I think he is an aviation junkie and truly loves it, second, he is an artist and most definitely has a vision, and third, he isn’t so much of an artist that he would be prevented from building fruitful relationships. Oh, and I should mention as the new guy to TV that Anthony is very patient!
I hear you come from a family of pilots.
Oh yeah, way back. I grew up with hangar talk, washing airplanes, and riding around to cool places. As a kid, I think I drove my friends nuts talking about flying, but I couldn’t help it! After all, hanging around airports led me to becoming pen pals with a real life astronaut at the age of 8. Who wouldn’t brag about that? Airports are like the land of OZ, Disneyland or Walmart; I mean, you meet people and you see things there that are magical!
Who was the astronaut you became pen pals with, and how long did you correspond?
Bob Springer was his name, and I think we wrote for a couple years in total. It started with Bob’s secretary typing letters back to me and he would sign them, but he eventually would handwrite letters and send pictures. It was so inspiring to have someone of that stature took the time to communicate with some kid he met at an airport! I remember when the Challenger accident happened in 1986. I was extremely affected because I felt like I was so connected to them. Eventually we stopped writing, but I have always been appreciative of his time, and I know he helped strengthen my goals.
You’re also a musician. Has this helped to open doors in the aviation world?
There are lots of musicians in aviation, so I have always had people to talk music with at work, which is cool. There are fewer professional pilots who are also professional musicians, however, so I think it becomes more of a conversation piece than normal for me. I have had the opportunity to build a great partnership with Sennheiser Aviation, which has plugged me into some great aviation events around the country to perform my music at. We also recently wrote and recorded a theme song for Sennheiser’s “Live Your Dream” program, which was an amazing experience. I truly believe that being a pilot helps me become a better musician, and being a musician has helped me become a better pilot, so I think indirectly the two open doors along the way.
What’s your favorite aircraft to fly?
I have so many memories tied to different types that I think I’d like to go back and fly some to re-live those moments. I took my girlfriend (now wife of 14 years) on a couple weeks of traffic watch gigs in Albany, NY in a Maule, which was a great GA bird, and an amazing memory. I used to love burying the needle on the VSI (which went to 10,000 feet per minute), while climbing in Lear 24’s, and I love the jets in the airlines. That’s really not a fair question!
What are your aspirations as a pilot?
It may sound morbid, but I don’t want to die in an airplane. People always say “they died doing what they loved,” but that’s not true. I’ve read many transcripts of accident cockpit voice recorders, and I’ve had friends pass in airplanes, and none of them were happy to be going that way. My goal is to have fun, always be willing to learn, and treat every moment of every flight with respect.
About Joe Ellis
Joe.e, a commercial airline captain and professional musician, joins the cast of “The Aviators” for season four of the much-anticipated docuseries. As an ambassador of Sennheiser’s “Live Your Dream” program, Ellis has been flying professionally for 15 years, with over 9,000 hours of flight time. You can learn more about his music at www.joeellismusic.com.