Category Archives: Drone Girl Profiles

Got a new drone? 7 things you need to know before getting started

So you got a drone. Congrats! Now what?

There’s a lot you need to know about getting started before you even get your drone in the air (sorry). From registering, to getting a license, to knowing where you can fly, here’s everything you need to do before you get to the fun part — flying!

  1. Register it. Is your drone more than 0.55 lbs and less than 55 lbs? You need to register yourself as a drone operator with the FAA. The process is easy. Simply visit the FAA’s drone registration website and create an account. You’ll have to enter your address, phone number and email. You’ll also have to pay the $5 registration fee. From there, you’ll receive a Registration number, which you need to simply need to affix somewhere on your drone. I recommend writing it with Sharpie on a piece of masking tape, so you can easily remove it should you decide to sell or give away your drone. (The registration number is tied to the pilot, not the drone). Continue reading Got a new drone? 7 things you need to know before getting started

Drone Girl profiles: Meet Abbe Lyle

Meet Abbe Lyle, one of the most fun personalities in the drone industry, and a talented drone pilot (and a private pilot). She has been a professional photographer for more than 15 years and was one of the early adopters of DJI’s drones.

How have you turned drones into a career?

Because I love flying so much, it integrated naturally into my workflow. Obviously it took time to really master the controls, but going back when restrictions simply were not in place as they are today, I would supplement images for my clients’ websites (especially the cutting edge high tech clients who loved the idea of incorporating new technology through their images). Then I started teaching safe flight to groups at conferences, kids in schools, or intense week long classes at Maine Media Workshops and College with Scott Strimple.

Now I am working with Visual Law as a pilot and their creative director. What I really love about this is that we create recreations of crime scenes incorporating drone technology, along with ground based scanning to give a true extremely exact rendition of the scene. Mark and myself talk at forensic conferences about what we do and it is a totally different audience! There is a tremendous amount of excitement, and a thirst for knowledge.

abbe lyle dji phantom
Courtesy Abbe Lyle

You actually just got back from your Maine Media Workshop. What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for drone photographers?

Learn the rules before you fly. Give yourself the gift of taking to the skies with confidence. Don’t try and be cavalier, take baby steps and you will have a great foundation. Take a class, any class! Don’t write off the importance of the Part 107 rules even if you are only flying for recreation. Sorry, Sally, that is more than one piece of advice!

I’ll take it! On that note, what are things a lot of people with a standard photography background don’t realize about drone photography?

This is such a great question and one that is extremely close to my heart. Continue reading Drone Girl profiles: Meet Abbe Lyle

YI Erida drone exec Ye Song “not afraid of competition”

Ye Song is the president and cofounder of YI Technology, which makes everything from action cameras that compete with the GoPro to home cameras to dash cameras.

And now, YI Technology is making the leap into aerial cameras with the launch of YI Erida, a carbon fiber drone that it claims can fly for up to 40 minutes at speeds of up to 75 mph. 

We caught up with cofounder Ye Song about her business philosophy:

Ye Song
Ye Song is the president and cofounder of YI Technology, maker of the YI Erida drone.

Drone Girl: What brought you into the drone community? Continue reading YI Erida drone exec Ye Song “not afraid of competition”

How Good Morning America’s Maria Stefanopoulos is using drones for TV news

Good Morning America’s Maria Stefanopoulos has had more wild adventures working in drones in the past couple years than many people might have in a lifetime. She has flown over (and through) everything from a volcano in Iceland, to a cave in Vietnam with DJI.

Stefanopoulos is a Production Manager at ABC News, Good Morning America, based in New York. She first got into drones about 18 months ago for GMA’s first drone-related shoot (in Iceland), and purchased her own drone shortly after that.

Here’s her story:

abc gma iceland
Courtesy Maria Stefanopoulos

DG: Let’s start by talking about the first shoot you did with a drone in Iceland. So originally, the plan was to have a drone flying around the studio, but then you decided to just go big and take it to the Arctic Circle. How did that all happen?

MS: February is a sweeps month, so for us TV people that means we like to up the ante. Our senior editorial staff approached me about an idea to have drones take over our studio for a “Game of Drones” series — Wiz by the weather wall, carry scripts to our anchors at the news desk, even drop off a cup of coffee to a correspondent on the set.

We were sold on this idea, until our Senior Producer came across Eric Cheng’s video where he flew a drone into an active volcano in Iceland. I remember the day my boss approached me about production managing this event. She said “Would you mind putting together a budget for another crazy idea? I’m sure it’ll never happen. A volcano. Iceland. Drones. LIVE.” I watched the YouTube video and thought – for so many reasons –  there’s no way this is going to happen…”

DG: But it happened! Continue reading How Good Morning America’s Maria Stefanopoulos is using drones for TV news

Meet 2DroneGals photographers Kim and Makalya

This week’s Drone Girl profile highlights a mother-daughter photography duo. Kim and Makalya Wheeler go by 2Drone_Gals on the internet, and in real life they can generally be found flying around the Space Coast of Florida capturing photos and videos.

Kim, the mother half of the duo, got into photography in high school via her cousin’s  Canon AE-1. Makayla, now 18, started shooting  with an Olympus C-740 and won her first photography contest at age 10 and at that age already had her photos published in an international nature magazine.

Drone Girl: You have photography backgrounds. How did drones enter your life?

Kim and Makalya: Makayla’s gift in the visual arts quickly transitioned into the video production realm when she began shooting horse chase sequences out on the trails with her iPod Nano and edited them to music. This led to shooting promotional videos, nature documentaries and short films. The interest in drones developed out of a need for epic aerial cinematography for these types of video projects. Makayla bought her first drone at age 15 when one of her projects won a national video contest. She sold the Grand Prize to purchase the drone, which was the original DJI Phantom 1.

DG: That means you got in on the drone craze ahead of the curve. How did you learn about drones? Continue reading Meet 2DroneGals photographers Kim and Makalya

Meet Loretta Alkalay, the drone lawyer

Loretta Alkalay

Meet Loretta Alkalay, a New York-based aviation attorney and professor.

She’s highly experienced in drones, having spent 30 years with the FAA and the past 7 years doing consulting work in international aviation. She studied at Cornell University and NYU. She is a renowned teacher who has taught in India, and is currently an adjunct professor at Vaughn College of Aeronautic Engineering, Aviation, and Technology in Queens, New York.

Drone Girl: Tell me about what you do in the drone industry.

Loretta Alklay: I was an aviation attorney for 30 years. That’s not particularly surprising. When people find out I fly drones, I have 5 Phantoms, AND I am a grandmother, people are surprised.

DG: Surprised? Why?

LA: The stereotypical image of someone flying a drone is not a woman, and it’s certainly not a grandmother.

The best compliment I ever got was when I was flying in Bicentennial Park (now Museum Park) in Miami. It’s right next to the port — the center of Miami. I was flying my drone and these two homeless men had been chatting to me. On the way out, one of the them turns to the other and says, “You’re never too old to learn something new.” I felt like I gave him hope.

DG: You studied law at New York University. Why did you decide to do specialize in aviation law? Continue reading Meet Loretta Alkalay, the drone lawyer

Kiteboarder Karlie Thoma uses drones too

Our latest Drone Girl profile is a little different and features someone whose profession has nothing to do with drones, yet they entered her life, which happens to be the life of a kiteboarder.

18-year-old kiteboarder Karlie Thoma recently worked with Salt Lake City-based production company Atomic City Films to film a short film about her kiteboarding.

The film was shot in Maui, Hawaii on the Autel Robotics X-Star Drone with 4K Camera. Here’s our interview:

Drone Girl: Usually I profile people who work with drones as operators, but your story is a little different. You worked with drones so they could film you! How did this whole project come about?

Karlie Thoma: I was approached by Rhett (Director at Atomic City Films) who saw my pictures on Instagram. He then contacted me to set up a time for us to meet and shortly after that we were having lunch discussing his idea of the shoot. I recommend some of my favorite spots to kiteboard. It was difficult to narrow the spots down. There were no fly zones because the beach was close to the airport. We ended up choosing a prime location on Maui’s north shore, Baby Beach.An aerial shot from an Autel Robotics drone featuring Kiteboarder Karlie Thoma in Maui. The picture is from Atomic City Film's short film, shot via an Autel Robotics drone.

DG: How many drones were up in the air each time?
KT: There were 2 drones. One of the drones actually hit my lines and the drone fell into the water. In-between breaks I went diving but did not find the drone.
DG: What was it like working with the drones?

Continue reading Kiteboarder Karlie Thoma uses drones too