All posts by Sally French

How to learn mapping and agriculture for drones

I’m interested in breaking into agriculture and mapping. I think what I need the most is some training so that I know what I’m talking about when looking for clientele. Do you have any suggestions?

Yes, I know exactly what you need. I highly recommend Icarus Aerials’ Lewis Butler and Trevor Duke’s online course on mapping and 3D modelling.

The course goes over a variety of topics – photogrammetry, structure scanning, hardware, software and more. It primarily discusses using Drone Deploy, though I personally have had success with Skycatch’s software, which is similar to Drone Deploy.

It’s a self-paced online course so you can do it on your own time – and there’s lifetime access in case you need a lot of time. The course, called Mapping and 3D Modeling 101 costs $199. Continue reading How to learn mapping and agriculture for drones

Ask Drone Girl: getting a job in drones

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about getting a job in drones. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.


I am retired from the US Army and back in College. I am wanting to get into a engineering field that would be best for working with drones. What would you suggest? San Diego City College has a AA in Electronics. They also have the first 2 years of electrical engineering or mechanical engineering degrees with a transfer to San Diego State University. Do you have any suggestions on what’s best to study to get into the drone field? Thanks!

Thank you for your service, and welcome to the drone world! The tough thing in the drone industry is there is no “set path” to succeed. The great thing about the drone industry is there is no “set path” to succeed.

I’ll let you know my story. I got into drones by accident. I was a college student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in both German and Journalism, with a minor in multicultural studies. I needed one credit to graduate and the only thing that really fit in my schedule was a course on drones, so I signed up and of course, fell in love! Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: getting a job in drones

FAA Remote Pilot Certifications: here’s the database to search Part 107-certified pilots

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about the FAA Part 107 Certified Remote Pilot database. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

Does the FAA have a website where you can see if a drone operator has a license to fly commercially? 


Hello, Dave!

The short answer is yes! You can browse the FAA’s public registry of Part 107-certifed remote pilots here.

In order to browse the database, you will have to start by submitting information about yourself, including your name and address. From there, you can browse all airmen (okay, how about airwomen?!), whether they are manned or remote pilots.  You’ll be able to see each pilot’s certificate and their rating (including that of yours truly).

If you’re hiring someone to do commercial drone work for you, this is a great place to check if that drone pilot is actually certified.

As of March 21, the FAA had issued 37,579 remote pilot certificates, according to an FAA spokesperson.

And if you’re a drone owner who flies commercially but is not yet Part 107-certified, save yourself the embarrassment of not showing up in this database by taking the Part 107 test. I promise, it’s not as hard as it may seem, even if you don’t have a background in aviation. (Here’s my guide and video to taking the Part 107 test, which is a 60-question written test that takes up to 2 hours. If you don’t have a background in aviation, you’ll certainly need to devote a few evenings to studying, but it’s not something you can’t do.

Note that not all pilots who have certificates may show up in your database search. Pilots do have 90 days to opt-out of having their address posted so there is a significant lag in posting, and someone’s legal name may not be the name you know then as when you search them.

Looking for study resources to ensure you pass? I used Drone Pilot Ground School and passed on the first try. I also recommend UAV Ground School — you can save $25 with coupon code DRONEGIRL. 

Happy flying, and happy test-taking!

Star Wars drone review: Propel’s collectible $200 battle drones

For those of you Star Wars nerds out there, there’s a drone for you too.

Propel’s new line of Star Wars battle drones are essentially a basic 4-ounce toy drone that is operated via remote controller — but there’s a whole lot more to it than justthat. These highly-deta iled, hand-painted (and very pricey) drones are a perfect gift for the Star Wars fan in your life, and an incredible keepsake item for the collectors in your life.

The drones cost $199 each and come in three different designs, the 74-Z Speeder Bike, the T-65 X-Wing Starfighter and the Tie Advanced X1.

propel star wars drone battleStar Wars drone review: The packaging

I had so much fun simply opening my drone from its box, which was the Tie Advanced X1. Each drone arrives in a wax-sealed box that, much to my surprise, actually plays Star Wars music and lights up when it’s opened. It’s mounted on a fancy stand inside a clear plastic case, for display in my home, rather than packed in a closet (which unfortunately most of my drones are!). Continue reading Star Wars drone review: Propel’s collectible $200 battle drones

Why are all of these enterprise drone packages terrible deals?

Bebop dronemaker Parrot this week announced a modeling bundle, targeted at professional real estate and building professionals.

The $1,099 Bebop-Pro 3D Modeling bundle claims to be “a high-performance tool to develop innovative marketing content like commercial videos and 3D interactive models, or to capture measurements for cost estimates or 3D model printing,” according to a news release. The product will be made available in May 2017.

Essentially, it’s a Parrot Bebop 2 with Skycontroller that also comes with a Pix4D license, some spare batteries and a backpack.

Here is the thing: the package doesn’t actually save you that much money. For $1,099, you would get:

Do the math, and the whole setup minus backpack costs $1,090 if purchased separately. Basically, this deal is netting you a free backpack. Nothing against free backpacks, but that’s essentially what this whole new product offering is. Continue reading Why are all of these enterprise drone packages terrible deals?

Layoffs hit drone-maker Yuneec, and could be as high as 70% of U.S. staff

It’s been a year of downsizing for the drone industry, and Typhoon drone maker Yuneec is the next to take a hit.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed on Friday that Yuneec laid off staff in its Americas division, as first reported by Gary Mortimer of SUAS News.

“After careful analysis of our 2016 results, we concluded that we upsized operations faster than our growth required,” according to a statement issued by Yuneec. “With much reflection, we made the difficult decision to scale back our business structure to a secure balance between operational costs and revenue.”

Because the company is privately held, Yuneec’s spokeswoman would not comment on how many people were cut, though Mortimer reported that the layoffs could be as many as 50 to 70% of staff. Continue reading Layoffs hit drone-maker Yuneec, and could be as high as 70% of U.S. staff

Nominate a “Women to Watch” award winner, announced at the Drone360 ASCEND conference

Odds are, you know an awesome woman in the drone industry. She could be a stellar pilot, a talented artist, a rockstar businesswoman, a brilliant engineer or an entrepreneur.

So many women are shaping the drone industry, and I’ve written about many of them here (though there are far too many to profile all of them!).

Women and Drones, in partnership with Drone360 magazine and the ASCEND drone business conference, is announcing a global search for women impacting the drone industry. The Women to Watch Award Committee is conducting a global search for women impacting the drone industry through achievements in technology, business, governmental relations, advocacy, education, research, journalism, agriculture, and more. Nominations can be submitted online at

Submissions will be accepted until May 15, 2017.

Award recipients will be honored at the ASCEND Conference & Expo, July 19-21, 2017 in Portland, OR. In addition to this Award, ASCEND will provide a meaningful platform to help women share ideas, network with like-minded professionals, and be recognized for their accomplishments.

A roundtable discussion for Women in Drones will be offered as a networking breakfast session (which I’ll be speaking at!).

Nominate someone today, and I’ll see you in Portland!

Ask Drone Girl: B4UFly, what do the grey circles mean, and can I fly my drone there?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about using apps to figure out where you can legally fly drones. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I am about to receive my first real drone, the Phantom 3 Advanced.
My question is on the app it shows airports in an orange circle so obviously NO FLYING. but if I live in a city close by and it’s got a grey circle what’s that mean ?

Hey there!

It’s great to check where you can legally fly your drone BEFORE you actually purchase it. Many people buy their drone, and THEN realize they live a mile from an airport and can’t fly in their own back yard.

To answer your question, first I’d need to know what app you’re using to figure out the colors you’re referencing. There are TONS of apps out there to check where you can and can’t fly. There’s the FAA’s own B4UFly app, but in my opinion the interface is difficult to use. There are lots of other drone apps out there that do the same/similar job, but better. Check out Airmap, KittyhawkHover, or Skyward, which was recently acquired by Verizon.

Personally, I use Airmap, so I’ll walk you through their app to figure out whether you can fly there.

Here’s where I live (San Francisco): Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: B4UFly, what do the grey circles mean, and can I fly my drone there?