Tell us about yourself and your background.

My name is Louise Jupp.  I am originally from the UK but have been living in South Africa since 2000.  I live in the coastal town of East London in the Eastern Cape.  I have a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science, a BSc (Hons) in Earth Science and now a Remote Pilots License (RPL).  I have been working in the field of environmental management for the last 25 years.  I’ve worked on projects in the UK, Europe, Cyprus and across Western, Central and Southern Africa. I want to use UAVs for mainstreaming sustainable farming practices, enhancing food security for the future and supporting conservation across Africa.   

How did you get started in the drone industry?

I have always had a passion for technology and gadgets. I first heard about UAVs at the end of 2014. I was immediately attracted by the innovative opportunities UAVs present for solving problems and helping others. There is also an inherent environmental benefit or spin off from the use of UAVs in a number of applications including agriculture.  We obtained our first DJI Phantom in 2015 just before the new regulations were enacted in South Africa.

I am very proud to be one of the first women to have obtained an RPL from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) in 2016. I have over 285 hours flying micro-drones, nano-drones and simulators.  My project for 2018 is to build my own drone.

Tell us about your organization and your role there.

I am Director and pilot of Terreco Aviation (Pty) Ltd.  My business partner and I  established Terreco Aviation in 2016 with the aim of providing UAV-based consulting services for selected business sectors.  We are still progressing through the strict commercial licensing process that exists in South Africa and we’re expecting to be fully operational in South Africa in 2018.

 Industry Experience:

What do you like most about being in the UAV industry?  

I like being part of a new industry that has enormous potential for affecting positive change and making a difference for people and the environment – both directly or indirectly. The scope of opportunities for helping solve problems using UAVs are particularly appealing..

I enjoy the excitement associated with this new and rapidly evolving innovative technology and its ‘disruptive’ effect on traditional business and practices.  I enjoy those ‘a-ha’ moments where initially skeptical people we speak to realize how effectively they can solve multiple problems with UAVs.  And, then it is the pure fun of flying a UAV and observing the landscape below.

What’s your favorite type of project and why?

We have had the opportunity to donate our time and drones for a conservation project in South Africa with a major conservation organisation.  It was immensely gratifying to be able to work with incredibly dedicated people who are working to preserve habitats for a critically endangered mammal. It was deeply satisfying to be able to play a small part in that programme.

Do you have a success story you would like to share?

Our success story has still to unfold as we await our commercial license to operate in South Africa!  But I like to think acquiring my RPL license in my 50th year is a step in the right direction for a bigger success story!

What excites you most about the potential for women in the industry?

The UAV industry is opening up the opportunity for women from many walks of life to become a part of the aviation industry. They can experience flying in their own right and on their terms as we are already seeing in Zanzibar and Kenya.  I also feel many benefits arising from UAVs play to the strengths of women, insofar as women have a natural propensity for nurturing, helping others and solving problems. UAVs are a potent tool for women to use for making a real difference on many levels.

I also love the idea that a new group of women aviation pioneers are coming through using UAVs.

What’s your current favorite drone to fly?

I enjoy flying the DJI Phantom 3 Professional and 4 Pro for professional purposes.  I also greatly enjoy flying the Blade Inductrix nano-drone with FPV for fun.

What You’ve Learned:

What has been your most significant “lightbulb” moment since you entered the industry? 

My lightbulb moment was realizing that we are not consultants just flying UAVs anymore.  We are now pilots and aviators. We are proud to be pioneers in an emerging sector that has already pushed the bounds of human capabilities and will continue to do so using UAVs in all shapes and sizes.  Being recognised as part of the aviation community by our local flying school and fraternity of pilots has been especially rewarding.

What have you learned you wish you had known when you got started?

I wish we had been given better information about the length and complexity of the commercial licensing process in South Africa. It has been considerably more painful and expensive than was originally indicated by the authorities.

Is there a tip you learned you would like to share with other women in the industry?

Do not be daunted by the technology, the pilot licensing processes and other aspects of using drones. If any aspect of using UAVs interests you then get involved. Work methodically and at your own pace. Enjoy exploring the exciting opportunities that UAVs offer and find new ways UAVs can positively disrupt today’s activities.


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Louise Jupp

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