One of the most powerful stories that has come out of the drone boom is the growing presence of women drone pilots.
At the heart of this story is this: A drone doesn’t care who you are. White, Black, Latino, Asian, male, female, transgender, short, tall, physically challenged, nerd, geek, cool kid, Bruno Mars fan, or whatever other description you want to use – none of this matters.
As women drone pilots so deftly prove, the only thing that matters is a person’s desire to learn and the commitment in time you put toward drone piloting. Take Minneapolis resident Megan Proulx for example.
The Drone Doll
Proulx, who goes by the handle, Drone Doll, began flying drones a little over two years ago. The 29-year-old graphic designer never imagined that one day she would be flying drones – and loving it.
While Proulx says that her father spent countless hours flying radio-controlled airplanes, the desire to get into drones didn’t take off until her boyfriend Simon Cheng, introduced her to the hobby.
“I was never into electronics or video games growing up,” Proulx says, “At first, I was very intimidated by it, mainly because in my head I thought, ‘this is a guy’s thing.’ I immediately crashed my boyfriend’s drone. So he built me a 3-in. drone that could withstand more crashes as I learned.”
And learn Proulx did. Now she builds and flies her own drones, and in the process, creates popular aerial videos that are featured not only on her own YouTube channel, but also on AirVuz, one of the most popular websites in the world to view drone videos.
In addition, with her boyfriend, who goes by the handle Marty Flyzzz, they created a vlog called “Til Drones Do Us Part,” which focuses on couples who drone together.
“Droning has changed my life,” Proulx says. “I’ve always been kind of introverted. But this put me outside my comfort zone, especially in posting my videos. I’ve also had to learn to get use to criticism, some useful and some of it completely unwanted, like a guy who posted, ‘You suck at flying.’”
It also allowed me to re-connect with my dad in a new way. He thinks it’s pretty cool that I drone.
For freelance marketing consultant and writer Kara Murphy, drone piloting helped to re-energize her passion for photography, and at the same time, allowed her to build a new, profitable business.
A photographer since 2009 who primarily covered large music festivals such as Outside Lands, BottleRock and Noise Pop, Murphy was sifting through her Instagram feeds when she noticed an incredible photo of Martha’s Vineyard shot with a drone by Nate Boltron, which captured her attention.
“I had been feeling kind of bored with my photography career,” says Murphy. “When I saw Nate Bolt’s video, I knew I had to try shooting a video with a drone.”
What Murphy saw on film, she soon realized – when shooting a photo or video with a drone, you are not limited to staying planted on the ground like you are as a photographer.
Starting with a Phantom 1 drone, to which she had to attach a GoPro camera, Murphy honed both her piloting and video making skills. In the process, she obtained her Part 107 license and has since taken video in numerous locations in the U.S. and overseas, including Iceland, Scotland and parts of Europe.
The Grand Rapids resident is now on her eighth or ninth drone, and in the process has built a business creating aerial media from the perspective of a drone.
Acknowledging that drone piloting is overwhelmingly dominated by males, Murphy says that most men are respectful – especially if you do good work.
“It’s about putting in your time,” Murphy says. “I think I put in at least 500 hours before I became truly comfortable with piloting.”
In addition to her work, Murphy volunteers her time to introduce droning to young girls where her daughter attends elementary school.
“I was inspired by a man, but maybe I can inspire someone else,” Murphy says. “I’m out to prove that anything is possible.”
Queen of the Drone
For Tressa Cioffi, aka Queen of the Drone, becoming a drone pilot was strongly encouraged by her husband, a realtor, for whom she took photographs of the homes he was selling for brochures and online real estate listings.
“My husband was selling a home for a friend of ours and he really wanted to do it up right,” Tressa says. “So, he comes home and says to me, ‘I want to buy you a drone.’ Well, I’m three-months a pregnant and I’ve never even played a video game and I’m thinking, ‘Are you crazy?’”
And that’s exactly what her husband did. He bought her a drone.
“I took it out to the home he was selling and shot the video,” Tressa says. “It’s kind of hilarious.”
It wasn’t until Tressa, who lives in Fort Myers, Florida, was showing some of her girlfriends the drone that she started to actually have fun with it.
“I created a video of us with my drone and put it on Facebook,” she says. “And the reaction just blew me away. It’s had more than 275,000 views on AirVuz.com alone.”
That’s when she knew she was onto something.
Today, Tressa owns eight drones and her Queen of the Drones business is in hot demand from land developers, golf courses, real estate agents, and many others who’ve come to appreciate her expertise as a professional drone videographer.
“Becoming a drone pilot reconnected me with my passion for taking videos when I was in high school,” says Tressa. “It helped me to realize my talent. When I took photos of homes for my husband’s business, I didn’t think of myself as a photographer. But with this, I realize that all of those photos and videos I took have helped me develop an eye for good video.”
Tressa looks at her experience and sees a new gateway for women to interact with technology.
“It doesn’t matter who you are,” Tressa says. “Anyone can operate a drone – even someone in a wheelchair. It’s all about the time you put into learning how to fly one. I feel that drones offer an opportunity for women to become empowered. You not only can fly these and make videos with them, you can build them, race them, and learn how to design them.”
“When I see my five year old playing with her Barbie drone,” she adds, “I know we’re on the right track.”
Article submitted by:
Megan Gaffney is the VP of Marketing at AirVūz.com and Part 107 licensed drone pilot. Megan is a metric-based, omni-channel marketer with more than 10 years experience leading marketing teams in various industries including retail, transportation, and hospitality with notable positions at The Tile Shop and Transport America.
Megan is a graduate of the University of St. Benedict. She serves as the Executive Vice President and CMO for the non-profit Minnesota Food Truck Association, and has a passion for fine art and design.