Tell us your story. How did you get started in the drone industry and when did that happen?
I have loved gaming on consoles and PC since I was a kid and I used to collect remote controlled cars (and break a lot of helicopters). I love using controllers, joysticks just make sense and they provide so much escapism.
So, when I saw someone flying their drone at Rainbow Serpent Festival in 2016, I suddenly realized that I wanted to be that person with the high-visibility vest and the controller in their hands. What a job; flying amazing technology with professional camera's attached, and being surrounded by nature and people and art, and an amazing warm and energetic creative community.
That is what inspired me to start droning, and now I am glad to call it my profession! I bought my first drone in the summer of 2016/2017 and I am now the owner of a growing collection. I fly every week and I now own a camper van (ie. a portable house!) which I use for adventures down the coast with my drone and surfboard.
I own and run Skypan Australia, which is an aerial drone operations business. I am the Chief Remote Pilot and Director/CEO. I have my RePL, ReOC, and Public Liability Insurance up to $20 million. I specialise in videography and photography for events and festivals, which is my passion as I love the community and atmosphere at big events. They deserves to be appreciated from above, especially light shows at night!
I also conduct real estate and landscape architecture photography and design plans (as I studied Landscape Architecture as a Bachelor and I have a Permaculture Design Certificate). I provide 3D point cloud mapping services and inspections. I love sports cinematography such as skating and surfing as well, and how dynamic you need to react in order to get the right shot in the moment. I also work in casually as a product specialist and as a remote pilot for D1 Store, the first and only authorised DJI Retailer in Australia. DJI honestly make the best equipment on the market and I am so satisfied with being surrounded in their merchandise and teaching people about their capabilities!
What kind of drone(s) do you fly and what's your favorite thing about it?
I love my DJI Phantom 4 Pro + Obsidian as it has the best camera that I can afford right now and it flies so well. I also love the 'Obsidian' colour as you can spot it further away than a 'White/Original' coloured one, and I highly rate the built-in Crystal Sky monitor. I want a DJI Matrice 210 RTK with an X30 and XT if I could have any drone I desired, or an Inspire 2 with an X7 lens!
Have you learned any valuable lessons being in the drone industry you can share with our female drone community?
I have learned so much already from my fellow community, particularly on Instagram and also with the Women Who Drone organisation, who have provided so many amazing opportunities for me to share my work. People are so encouraging and willing to share information if you ask for it and if you have confidence in your content. My advice is to find your unique style and find a way to communicate it in a way that is consistent and legible (whether its with color, content, or themes...).
There are not nearly as many women as there are men in these STEM industries, so the more the merrier! Anyone can pick up a drone and fly it, and I want to see more women reaching out and linking up in the online drone community and producing content that inspires me. I love flying my drone as a career and I am grateful that I chose to follow my passion. If you do what you love everyday, you won't work a day in your life (as they say!).
Whether its from a creative, commercial or humanitarian perspective, tell us about your most memorable drone flight you have piloted thus far.
I was lucky enough to record the Mother's Day Classic in Melbourne this year, which is a run/walk which raises money towards breast cancer research and awareness. To date, the organisation has raised over $33.2 million dollars over 20 years. My mother passed away from metastasized breast cancer in August 2016 which was a big turning point for me in pushing me to do what I love in this short and beautiful life. She was always so supportive and excitable and active in the community, and I want to give back and share my energy just like her. It made me so happy to be involved in the event as a professional photographer and I look forward to returning next year.
What would you say to women and girls about the drone industry to spark their interest in getting involved?
I think the time is now to follow your dreams, and be a pioneer in the flourishing and fresh new drone industry. I want more women pilots in Australia to meet up with and be inspired by, so that the community can grow and so that we can make history! This is a movement and now is the time to be inspired by what you do and where you go.
Photography is the art of saving moments of time and space in history, and someone needs to write that history book! Also, we need more women becoming talented remote pilots and FPV pilots. Drone racing is going to get huge in the next decade. The next Formula One. E-Sports is massive and drones bridge the gap between the physical world and online gaming world!
What excites you most about more women joining the drone industry?
I want to see the percentage of women drone operators in Australia growing to 50%, and same for the worldwide ratio. It is far too low. Apparently there are less than 100 in Australia! Drone's are a new industry and there is so much room for equal opportunity and equal pay. Like all creative industries, you need to know your worth and have the courage and confidence to ask for the price you deserve for your time. It is worth the responsibility for the freedom that owning your own business provides you.
As a woman, to have a job with freedom and flexibility means so much as you can always decide to start a family and you can be assured in your independence. And as a person, freedom to live the lifestyle you choose, and independence from the churn of the corporate ladder, is a blessing in this day and age. Also, the more women e-sports representatives the better, as it will be another massive industry and I can't wait to see where it goes.
Thanks for taking the time to read about me! I hope that you also wake up every day feeling passionate about life because you do what you love. The world needs passion and creativity and you need to start following your heart and find your niche. You only have this one life regardless of your scientific or spiritual alignment; and no one on earth is promised tomorrow. So be you! And try to fly a drone at least once, just for me!
Sara is a certified remote pilot, landscape architect, DJI product specialist, and drone nerd located Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. She is running her own aerial drone business and wears many hats as an influential individual in the droning world.