This mom of two is the only female Part 107 pilot on her UAS Team
Margie Advent recently submitted Her Story to have us share it with you. Take a few minutes to read about her journey.
In which sector do you work?
Public Safety – City of Solon Fire Department
How long have you worked in the industry?
What did you do prior to coming into the industry?
I have worked in the Public Safety sector for over 22 years. My roles have included Police, Fire and EMS Dispatching, Police Department Administrative support staff, and I have been the Fire Department’s Department Head Secretary for the past 12 + years. The past 4 years have included being on the Valley Enforcement Group (VEG) UAS Team. I work at an amazing Fire Department which fosters and promotes individual interests, and has supported my interest and growth in being part of the UAS team.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
In 2017 a company came in and did a demo with a drone and how it could help in the fire industry, and I got to partake my first flight and fly their unit. I instantly felt connected and found a new interest and purpose. I have always had a passion for photography and this new perspective just drew me in. A co-worker, and dear friend Carol, introduced me to the VEG-UAS team where she was a member and I was hooked. She paved the way and encouraged me to learn and grow in this field and not give up. She was a great example of how to be fearless, have courage and dive in to try something new. Her talents are endless and she is a huge part of who and where I am today.
Tell us about your current organization
I work for the City of Solon Fire Department and I am part of the Valley Enforcement Group – UAS Team. VEG-Team. The UAS team has about 18 members and I am currently the only female pilot. Although the group flies under a COA, I am one of only two on the team who hold my Part 107 Pilot’s license, although we also have one FAA licensed Rotor Pilot on our team. Our team does all aspects of a Public Safety UAS group and includes some of the most creative, intelligent and committed partners. I feel very fortunate to be part of this group with such talented people.
Tell us about your current role in the industry
I am extremely proud to be part of a team that provides services such as emergency call-outs, locating missing persons, fire support and thermal imaging usage, intel, security sweeps, recoveries, over-watch for large gatherings, accident documentation and reconstruction, suspect searches, search warrant and SWAT support, and mapping prior to events. I also play a large part of the support role for the team which includes administrative services, training, tracking call-outs, statistics, objectives, and equipment needs.
What do you like most about being in the industry?
I love the imagery perspective and photo aspect of flying a drone, that feeling like you are flying and seeing things from a whole new view. I like being part of a team and family which serves the public and has so much heart for helping people, and keeping our communities safer. I have found this work to be challenging, and working through those challenges to provide photos and information is important. Having a team spirit, working with problem solvers, and sharing a close bond as we work along side each other keeps our team strong. I like reading about all the other women in this industry on Women and Drones, and being encouraged by their stories, professions and lives in the UAS world. I am inspired and have several personal goals like trying FPV, and to learn mapping.
What’s your favorite type of project and why?
My favorite is pushing your limits to grow and develop your flying skills during or training and flying different scenarios, which makes you just a little uncomfortable. When you have that tiny fear of crashing an expensive piece of equipment, and the adrenaline keeps you focused and shows you have the guts! The accomplishment you feel having met that goal is empowering. Although I have had my share of crashes and failures, I own it, and rather than look at mistakes as a failure I use them as a catalyst to improve myself and my team mates.
What excites you most about the potential for women in the industry?
I get excited to share my knowledge and skills which aren’t because I am a woman who likes to fly drones, but because I have earned the respect of my peers through studying to get my Part 107, working hard and overcoming personal challenges, and learning to be confident. My position brings a whole big picture view, I look out for others and care about their well-being, and bring a protective point of view for our members and equipment. I am passionate about building relationships, team comradery, and nurturing the team spirit. Being able to grow the team, challenge each other, still learn and have fun in the process is what we strive for.
What’s your current favorite drone to fly?
My favorite drone is my personal unit “Zoomie” Mavic 2 Pro-Zoom. But I also enjoy the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual.
What You’ve Learned
What has been your most significant “lightbulb” moment since you entered the industry?
I think my moment was when my two smart and amazing daughters told me “mom, you do YOU” and not worry about others, or what they think or say. I know they are right! I think as a woman I am hard on myself and feel I need to prove myself sometimes, I don’t want to be the weakest link. I don’t want to feel intimidated or inexperienced, so I work hard to learn, research, read, and strengthen myself. But, I also know as a woman I am being present and bring different talents in a way that are useful and productive for the team and for my department. Having tenacity, determination, sacrificing, and showing up with confidence is who I want to be and that is the role I want to portray to others. What other people think is not really who you are – don’t not put yourself out there. I am motivated to “you do you” like my daughters have demonstrated to me.
What have you learned you wish you had known when you got started?
There are so many opportunities in the UAS world, and it keeps growing with ideas. It is fascinating to see all these creative and brilliant women in the UAS industry and the directions they are going. Be daring, don’t doubt yourself or your skills, just keep pushing the boundaries. Inexperience does not show your potential. Be fearless in your personal journey.
I try to be a very humble and caring person, but a firefighter friend, and also a strong woman I respect on our department, Battalion Chief Amanda Horvath, once told me that I may not have all the credentials – but as far as exemplifying the traits of a firefighter: being helpful, sharing a close bond, being loyal, selfless and compassionate, and always willing to serve others, made me “the greatest firefighter that never was.” That compliment has meant the world to me, and I carry it in my heart each day to remind me to stay kind-hearted and help others.
Any suggestions for other women entering the industry?
Create a circle of trust. Touch in to all facets of drone operation including commercial, public, private, FPV, or just personal flying, each of which require different skill sets. In order to be a successful drone pilot, you have to be comfortable being in uncomfortable situations.
Set your sights high, set goals, and celebrate your successes. Be brave, be imaginative and keep asking, growing and moving forward, and, always, always, always remember you have a good team surrounding you. Just trust those people and draw on them when needed.
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