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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

Heads high, flying free

Jeff Schmucker Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:44 PM

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For those who are tired of their job, tired of feeling like they don't make a difference, or dream of just quitting and wandering around the country, you might consider becoming a "pirate."

The worst that could happen is that you end up building a (briefly) flying pirate ship that crashes with you and your friends into the Tampa Bay waters.

That's at least what happened to Tyler Watts, who said he quit his job with a video production company roughly two years ago and with the help of four friends built the flying ship in his mother's barn in Brooksville.

He and his friends then entered their flying machine into the 2011 Red Bull Tampa Flugtag event, which consisted of them riding the contraption off an aircraft carrier-like flight deck and landing into water 30 feet below.

Watts said his group, who calls themselves the Pirates of the Care Free Being, are preparing to participate in this year's Red Bull Flugtag event, which will be held in Miami.

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Watts said his decision to quit his job and be a full time "pirate" came to a head one day when he realized he wanted to be doing more with his graphic design work. One day, he finally quit and began working in a diner until he could figure out what he wanted to do.

His current shipmate, Kayne McPhillips, chose to do the same and ended up working in the same diner. Eventually, they struck a friendship and made plans to band together to buy and eventually live on a boat while sailing to wherever the wind takes them.

However, they couldn't find a boat that matched what they wanted. Rather than get discouraged, they soon turned their lifestyle change into a brand. They're also making a video documentary of their adventures leading up to buying and living on their boat one day.

"Our group is really about encouraging people to follow their dreams," Watts said. "Not enough people do that. Basically, if you're following what you want to do, then you're a pirate."

And following your dreams isn't always easy. Watts and his friend quit their jobs and sold most of all their possessions, but he admits he's lucky to have friends and family who let them crash with them while they worked odd jobs and built their flying ship for last year.

He added that their fellow pirate, Nick Stilwell, helped give them purpose through his Never Say Never foundation, which helps children with disabilities, such as those who have lost a limb.

Watts said he and McPhillips do writing, design and assist with camps for Stilwell, who along with providing them work also gives them a place to stay at times. They also travel all over the United States putting on events through the foundation.

Stilwell himself is a double amputee who plans to wear a peg leg.during this year's pirate flying machine adventure.

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Watts said if this year's flugtag is like last year's, then they'll need all the help they can get.

Last year, he said patrons of Pits Lounge in Brooksville assisted them with transporting their flying craft following difficulties with loading the contraption on a truck. He said suddenly many of them came over carrying tools and helped secure and fix the flying boat so they could go on their way to the competition.

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He said his mother likely would once again house the machine as he and the rest of this six-member crew build it leading up to the Nov. 3 event.

"People in Hernando County have been awesome," Watts said. "They were a huge lifesaver last year. And we'll be asking for that support again once we're officially registered for this year's event."

To see photos and video of the group, go to their Facebook page at and (352) 544-5271

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