In Conversation with a Drone Pilot

Written by: Emily on August 6, 2018
Tags: Careers, Inspiration, Interviews, Role Model, Women in Tech

Did you know you could be a pilot without ever actually being airborne? The increased use of drones for commercial purposes means that there is a high demand for drone pilots.

Amy Marshall

Amy Marshall and her partner recognised this demand, re-trained and together they founded Drone Factor in April 2017. Together they perform aerial surveys for both corporate and domestic clients. We wanted to share the incredible work that they do and give you an insight into the life of a drone pilot.

Can you share any interesting facts about yourself?

I’m a big foodie, I love to cook and grow my own fruit and vegetables. Taking part in amateur theatre is a great love of mine, along with writing poetry. My spirit animal is a grizzly bear; I enjoy keeping fit and relieving stress on my punch bag throughout the week. I have broken my rib once (pathetically) by coughing… trust me, if you get a chest infection, stay in bed and get better. And I am one of 1% of people in the world who has Vitiligo.

Can you tell us a bit about the work that Drone Factor does and your role there?

Drone Factor is my own business, which I run with my partner. I am the Operations Director of the company, as well as a fully licensed, professional drone pilot. Not many people think that drones are useful, most see them more of a nuisance which is completely understandable. To operate a drone commercially however, there are many rules and regulations I must follow; as a pilot I can provide everything from aerial cinematics, to photography, to surveys and photogrammetry. Every so often, Drone Factor even helps out with the local Search and Rescue Team, which saves a lot of people power and time!

Drone Factor Drone

What ignited your passion for technology?

I always loved remote control cars. Ever since I was a kid, I always asked for things traditionally considered ‘boys toys’ for my birthday and Christmas. I had many remote-control cars, tanks helicopters and even a hovercraft, as well as many ‘Action Man’ dolls, train sets, BB guns and catapults. Plus, I loved action films; so one of my most loved remote-control cars is (yes, I still have it!) the Delorean from the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy. My Dad was a big inspiration growing up, he was always fixing old cars and would let me help, to this day I love getting my hands dirty and fixing things myself.

Why were you drawn to drones

Drones were just seriously cool looking things and when me and my partner got the idea in our heads to fly drones as a career, we just became more and more giddy with excitement! When you’re a kid, the one super power that everyone wants is to fly, and now, I can and I love it..

What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is the freedom. Although it is tough managing your time being self-employed, as well as the lack of regular income, but somehow over time you learn to control it and not let your worries or fears control you and your business. As my heroine Nina Simone put it, “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me. No fear.”

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in tech?

I have certainly faced challenges being a woman in the world of technology. Only 3% of drone pilots in the UK are women. And whilst I am certainly proud to be one of 3%, there is always some air of prejudice towards me. Whether that being online or in business meetings, as if I don’t have the same knowledge as the other 97% of men, when we all have the exact same qualification.

Amy flying a drone

What advice would you give to young girls hoping to pursue a career in tech?

The advice I would love to give any young women or girls who love all things tech and/or are thinking about pursuing a career in tech is to simply: DO IT! Stick to it and don’t be discouraged by others, be they male or female. There are too many gender stereotypes in this world and there is still a good chance that many girls and young women will feel pressured to fall into these stereotypes simply to fit in or be ‘liked’.

Life is short, make sure you stand out and don’t listen to anyone who tries to put you down, trust me, there will be enough of them. If you’re interested in technology, that’s great, don’t let the labels of society weigh you down or define you. Follow your passion, be that coding, fixing, building or flying – have a go; you might just create your own career.

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