All posts by Sally French

DJI Mavic Air unboxing video: here’s what it looks like inside

I’m normally not into unboxing videos, but I am SO in love with the DJI Mavic Air that I had to do it. This is definitely a drone that I legitimately want to buy myself, so if you’re anything like me — you’ll want to know what’s inside when you buy!

Here’s my DJI Mavic Air unboxing video. Want even more Mavic Air? Check out my full review of the drone here!

The Mavic Air launched today as DJI’s best drone yet, with a 4K camera, new QuickShot modes and SmartCapture for easier, more intelligent photo and video capturing, and FlightAutonomy 2.0 with Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems, intended to make flights safer. Continue reading DJI Mavic Air unboxing video: here’s what it looks like inside

The DJI Mavic Air is a mix between the Mavic Pro and DJI Spark — and it’s absolutely perfect

When the DJI Mavic Pro came out, I thought that DJI had reached peak perfection with a drone. Boy, was I wrong. The DJI Mavic Air is way better than the DJI Mavic Pro.

The DJI Mavic Air combines the best of both worlds of the Mavic Pro and Spark. It’s about the size of a Spark in flight, but folds up like the Mavic Pro to become even smaller. It has the Spark’s nifty gesture control, but it also has the Mavic Pro’s 4K video.dji mavic air

And best of all, while it’s a huge improvement over the Mavic Pro, it’s $799 — less than the price the Mavic Pro was when it launched.

The Mavic Air is incredibly small and nimble. It’s about 8 inches diagonally across, and it weighs less than a pound. It makes the Mavic Pro look kind of huge — which is surprising given how small the Mavic Pro felt when it was announced.

DJI Mavic Pro vs. Mavic Air

The DJI Mavic Air can fly for just over 20 minutes on one battery. It comes in three colors — white, red or black. There are also sensor improvements, with a sensor that detects objects on both the front AND back of the drone. That’s amazing processing power, given how small this drone is.

There is a sensor on the back too.

DJI also made some improvements to its camera technology with the Mavic Air, including removing the delay in the shutter when it is triggered, and better highlight and lowlight details.  The drone also has TapFly and ActiveTrack features, along with improvements such as “TapFly Backward Mode.”dji mavic air

The Mavic Air also comes with two big changes to the RC transmitter. The transmitter doesn’t have a built-in screen like the Mavic Pro does, alerting you of things like battery life, flight modes, etc. It pretty much guarantees that in order to use the Mavic Air, you’ll need to rely on a smartphone app to translate what all the various beeps mean while in flight.

The removable joysticks are really interesting. At first, I thought, “huh?” Now I love them!

The other major change is that the joysticks on the RC transmitter can actually be removed. At first I was a little surprised by the decision to make the joysticks removable. “Is this REALLY necessary?” I thought. Turns out, it really helps when packing the drone away.

However, those little joysticks can get lost super easily. I’ve already had one small heart attack over losing them — though the easy solution for forgetful folk is to simply never unscrew them.

I still don’t love how my iPhone fits in the RC transmitter. Can this be fixed in the next Mavic?

That being said, I’ll still withhold the title of “perfect” on this drone, because there are some issues I’ve found in my year of flying the Mavic Pro that still haven’t been fixed with the Mavic Air. Namely, the RC transmitter. DJI’s drone design is simply flawless, but it seems that care given to the drone itself has been ignored on the RC transmitter. The spot to hold an iPhone just doesn’t quite fit perfect. It’s clunky to tap the iPhone’s home button when the phone is connected to the transmitter. Most phone cases must also be removed to connect them. Maybe Android users are exempt from the RC transmitter issues (I’ve never used one with a drone!) but the user experience connecting an iPhone to the drone just isn’t quite there — and never improved upon with the Mavic Air.

I love the DJI Mavic Air!

The DJI Mavic Air is the second drone I’ve ever reviewed that I thought that I’ve truly, 100% fallen in love with. (The first was the Mavic Pro). It’s a drone everyone needs. It’s easy to fly, takes gorgeous images and even more portable than the Mavic Pro.

I can’t wait for you to get your hands on it. Happy flying!

Pre-order your Mavic Air here.


The Fat Shark FPV drone kit could be the key to bringing drone racing to the masses

Drone racing has an adoption problem. It looks glamorous on ESPN, but for an average person who is inspired by a drone race they just saw, the barrier to entry is often to hard.

It’s difficult to find a drone racing kit that is easy to set up and fly.Fat Shark FPV drone racing thedronegirl

But the same company arguably responsible for even making drone racing a thing to begin with could soon be credited with bringing drone racing to the masses.

Shenzhen-based Fat Shark is known for making FPV (first-person view) headsets for drone racing, and its headsets are widely regarded as the gold standard when it comes to drone racing pros. Continue reading The Fat Shark FPV drone kit could be the key to bringing drone racing to the masses

Meet Lana Axelrod, Chief Strategy Officer at Drone Pilot Ground School

Lana Axelrod is the Chief Strategy Officer at Drone Pilot Ground School, an online training course designed to help you study for the Part 107 test. All drone pilots who wish to operate commercially must have a Remote Pilot’s License via the Federal Aviation Administration, and passing the test is one of the steps toward getting that license. I personally used Drone Pilot Ground School to help me study for my test — and I passed on the first time! If you’re interested in trying it out yourself, use DroneGirl50 to get $50 off.

Lana has a wildly impressive resume, which includes an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Do you know an awesome drone girl I should profile? Contact me here.

Drone Girl: What is an average day in the life like for you as Chief Strategy Officer at Drone Pilot Ground School?

Lana Axelrod: My average day starts by getting my 1.5-year-old up and ready for pre-school. This process requires some of the same skills as running a business — negotiation, prioritization and maintaining perspective.

My work with Drone Pilot Ground School is part of my role as the Chief Strategy Officer, and it fits under everything that I work on for UAV Coach, which is our parent company. UAV Coach is where we report on industry news and conduct interviews, it’s where we offer a few other courses, and it’s also where you can find our community forum. Continue reading Meet Lana Axelrod, Chief Strategy Officer at Drone Pilot Ground School

A big DJI product launch is coming on Tuesday

If you’ve been hankering for something new from DJI, you’re in luck. The dronemaker that sprung to fame with its Phantom line of drones has another product launch coming on Tuesday.

The Chinese dronemaker revealed a video promoting a new product launch earlier this week with the caption, “Your next great journey begins at 10 am EST on Jan 23, 2018.”

The announcement comes on the heels of CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, the largest consumer electronics show in the U.S. DJI was pretty quiet at CES, aside from a few small announcements such as the new Ronin-S which is like an Osmo for DSLR and mirrorless cameras, and — if you can count this as a DJI announcement — the launch of the new Tello drone, a $99 toy drone made by a Chinese startup called Ryze Tech that is intended to teach kids how to code and fly.

You can watch DJI’s upcoming announcement next week at DJI’s Live site, or stay tuned to Drone Girl. You can guarantee we’ll be all over it.

This SkyUp Drone Girl shirt is totally adorable

I love hearing from fans, and I REALLY love when I hear from them in the form of art!

The shirt was designed by a fan named Nicole who runs the site SkyUp Drones, which has an adorable collection of drone-related t-shirts. So I was totally flattered when she made one in homage to The Drone Girl!!skyup drone girl shirt

I am kind of obsessed with her Pug Drone design, and of course this one is a classic.

Thanks so much, Nicole! To the rest of you — check out her work!

Want more Drone Girl inspired art? Check out these free desktop and smartphone backgrounds, designed by talented artist Carli Krueger.  You can also pick up related merch with those same desktop background designs in the Drone Girl shop.

Join me in San Francisco for my 2nd “Girls Who Drone” event featuring Intel’s light show team!

Ever wondered the science behind how Intel puts on those incredible drone light shows? You know, like the ones at Coachella, the Super Bowl, at Walt Disney World,  in honor of Wonder Woman, and most recently over the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas?

My second ever “Girls Who Drone” event will show you exactly how!

Natalie Cheung, the General Manager for the Drone Light Show in the UAV Group at Intel Corporation, will guide you through what it takes to establish the drone light show business and grow the new segment. You might even find out some secrets as to what’s next for the future of drone nighttime entertainment!

The event will be held Thursday, February 15 from 6-8 p.m. PST at the Samsung NEXT offices at 201 Spear Street in San Francisco.

Tickets are FREE and include complimentary refreshments! Reserve your ticket here. Continue reading Join me in San Francisco for my 2nd “Girls Who Drone” event featuring Intel’s light show team!

Lily drone maker Mota wants to create blockchain for drones

This is an excerpt of a piece originally written for Read the entire piece here.

Not even the drone industry is immune to the blockchain craze.

Mota, the company that purchased the rights to manufacture the Lily drone, says it has been experimenting with blockchain technology for drones. Mota Chief Executive Michael Faro said in an interview Monday that he envisions a future where blockchain could decentralize the system for tracking drones, while providing greater transparency as to the whereabouts of drone flights.

“Think of when we have hundreds of thousands of drones flying in one area at a time,” Faro said. “That’s hundreds of thousands of eyes in the sky. No centralized place should have a monopoly over such data.”

Faro said blockchain data could make information on where drones are flying and who is operating them available to the public worldwide.

“If there is a crash, all that data should be auditable,” Faro said. Continue reading Lily drone maker Mota wants to create blockchain for drones