2017 Women To Watch in UAS List Announced By Women and Drones And Drone360

2017 Women To Watch in UAS List Announced By Women and Drones And Drone360


Women and Drones and Drone360 recently announced the 9 most influential women in the drone/UAS industry, winners of the 2017 Women To Watch in the UAS initiative.


Tuesday, August 29th was the date that the 2017 Women To Watch in UAS honourees were announced by Women and Drones and Drone 360 Magazine.

Women to Watch in the UAS Industry is promoted by the Women and Drones organization and Drone360 magazine. This initiative aims to raise the profile of women doing great work in the drone industry and to encourage more women to embrace UAS technology by supporting a group that remains underrepresented thus far.

Those considered for the honours included trailblazers, innovators, mentors, and business leaders in the drone and UAS industry with 110 nominations being received from seven countries worldwide. 

Our Skytango co-Founder Susan Talbot was on the judging panel.

The nine women selected for these honours have made astonishing strides in areas ranging from mapping to racing, education to entertainment. Inspiring women to get involved is the prime objective of Women and Drones. It’s no wonder the industry is growing so steadily with more and more female influencers getting on board to share their ideas.

Now that the dust has settled and we have all gotten busy with other things, we thought it was worth reminding you of the honourees and their extraordinary work. They fall under 9 different categories: Champion, Business, Education, Emerging, Entertainment & Culture, Global Trailblazer, Humanitarian, Influencer and Technology


The nine women honoured for the ‘Women To Watch in UAS’ are:

  • Mary Wohnrade (President/Owner of Wohnrade Civil Engineers) – Champion

Mary is heavily involved in the UAS industry in Colorado. She has developed a proprietary workflow to incorporate
UAS and engineering while working on other ways to expand their possibilities. She is extremely passionate about everything UAS so watch this space!

  • Natalie Cheung (UAV project manager, Intel) – Entertainment & Culture

Natalie is very much involved in the new form of entertainment that will have fire-work manufacturers worried!  Hailing from Santa Clara, CA, Cheung was one of the brains behind Intel’s Drone 500 which we covered in an article in late 2016 and is part of the revolution that is drone sky entertainment!

  • Holly Kasun (Co-Founder of Flybrix) – Business

Holly is appealing to the next generation of drone users with Flybrix, a crash-friendly, rebuildable drone kit made from LEGO bricks. Launched in 2016, Kasun raised $1.7million in funding in just 45 days. Go Flybrix! And Christmas is coming.

  • Gretchen West (Director at the Commercial Drone Alliance & Co-Founder of Women of Commercial Drones) – Influencer

Gretchen is a high profile and highly respected advocate for UAS technology.  She helps commercial drone end users understand the value and realize the benefit of drones by reducing barriers through advocacy and education. West, earlier on in the year, moderated a drone industry and regulation discussion at TieCon in which Skytango CEO Steve Flynn was involved!

  • Karen Joyce (Co-Founder of She Flies, Senior Lecturer in James Cook University) – Education

Karen co-founded She Flies, a drone training academy whose mission is to engage more girls and women with science and technology through the world of drones. She Flies hopes to expand their camps and educational programs beyond Australia very soon!

  • Catherine Ball (Co-Founder of World of Drones Congress & She Flies) – Global Trailblazer

Catherine is a start-up specialist working hard to build bridges, convene the UAS community, and advance innovative solutions in the UAS environment. The World Drone Congress, which debuted in Brisbane this August and at which our CEO Steven Flynn attended as a speaker, is the first major drone event to focus on the Asia-Pacific region. She Flies, which Catherine also cofounded, works to bring UAS and STEM learning to girls and women.

  • Lexie Janson (FPV Drone Racer, drone certification teacher and software developer) – Emerging

Through her tenacity and her sheer love of flying, Lexie has become a high profile racer and is working to raise the profile of drone racing. Dubbed “The First Lady of FPV in Poland” after a TV interview about drone technology, she travels the world to race, and actively encourages others to explore the sport.

  • Helena Samsioe (Founder and CEO of GLOBHE) – Humanitarian

As the boss of a humanitarian drone services company, Helena is leveraging drone capabilities to solve global problems, in particular, public health. She has worked on a UNICEF initiative to develop a humanitarian air corridor to deliver medical supplies in Malawi, and collaborates with other organizations to help heal through UAS tech.

  • Leah LaSalla (Technical Founder and CEO at Astral AR) – Technology

Intrigued with the combination of technologies that can deliver this experience, Leah started patenting and envisioning. She plans to apply this technology to wide-area search-and-rescue, disaster management, environmental remediation, public safety, and other drones-for-good activities. An added bonus: five of her company’s eight executives are women.


The judging panel was made up of three drone industry experts:

Wendy Erikson – Host of Women & Drones Podcast & Emmy award winning journalist & Part-107 certified pilot.

Sally French – The Drone Girl blog, named top 4 women shaping the drone industry by Forture magazine.

Susan Talbot – Skytango Co-Founder & COO & Emmy award winner with 25 years experience in film and TV production.


Congratulations to all involved and good luck with upcoming projects. You are incredible role models for our daughters (and sons!).

And if you are a woman working in the industry, don’t forget to check our list of 6 empowering actions for women in drones!

Images courtesy of Women and Drones.

Stick or Carrot? Compliance, Buyers & Flyers

Stick or Carrot? Compliance, Buyers & Flyers

Stick, Carrot, certified aerials, legal aerial footage, Skytango

What does the compliance wave in the drone industry hold for drone operators?


There have been huge advances in drone technology in recent years, but what does the future hold for pilots dealing with clients who are increasingly concerned about protecting themselves and their brand?

Skytango on the boat, drone compliance, certified aerial footageI’ve been flying a drone commercially since 2013. It was a heavy lift Cinestar and we flew Alexas, BlackMagic cameras, 5D’s, Gh4’s, and any other box we could strap to our Movi gimbal. At the time, the equipment, peripherals, licenses and insurance were a huge financial commitment. From the beginning, we struggled with other drone operators who weren’t licensed or insured and had less overhead as a result, quoting on jobs at half the standard day rate. It was difficult to compete and incredibly frustrating that nobody seemed to be doing anything about it.

To this day you can go to nearly any pilot forum and read their rantings (rightly so) of how hard it is to compete with illegal operators… always searching for the proper enforcement tool to prosecute them and protect the industry.

In my opinion, it’s not only about illegal operators but also about illegal operations. On more than one occasion I have been tempted to break the rules at the request of a client in order to get paid for my day’s work – so let’s be honest – even licensed operators can flaunt regulation and limits and put their insurance and their client at risk. So everyone has been searching for the right ‘stick’ to beat back this multifaceted problem.

I don’t think the ‘stick’ is the way to go. What we need is a ‘carrot’ approach.
 Steven Flynn, Skytango CEO

I’ve worked in film and television for 30 years, and I’ve spent a lot of my time in edit suites making sure music, photos, location releases and talent releases were always in order before a show went to air, or I’d have the legal team on my back. So after a career of risk mitigation (for want of a better description) I never understood why, as a drone pilot, clients would expect me to rock up in the streets of Dublin City Center and launch my heavy lift drone without permissions from the local land authority as well as having ATC clearance.

It seemed obvious to me that if a broadcaster or video client would care about having the rights to use a music track or a stock photo in their piece for fear of litigation, they would care if the drone footage they were using was legally acquired too – right?

Well, they do now! Partly because they are more educated around drone use and partly because of changing laws around privacy and data protection. So – buyer beware! It is as important for you to think about the legality of the drone operation as it is for the pilot to be aware. It won’t be long before authorities chase after the demand to corral the supply.

Last year we approached several large stock libraries highlighting a problem we saw coming down the tracks and while they concurred that it would eventually be an issue – none were willing to leap into that space of certified drone footage, as it seemed a slow train, laden with uncertain regulation and lack of enforcement.

Pond5 were the first to acknowledge the need for certified aerial footage, amid rumblings of drone output being audited by authorities and the buyers of illegally acquired content facing fines (monitoring the demand to control the supply), they called us back and said they had begun to see a change in their customers’ needs. They wanted to offer aerial footage they knew was legally acquired (in other words that the pilot followed all the rules), and were willing to sell at a higher premium for that assurance. Why? Well, we’re back to my old edit suite friend – risk mitigation!  They partnered with DJI and took the step of promoting footage supplied by Part107 pilots.

The end user needs to be protected, especially if said end-user has deep corporate pockets if you catch my drift. No longer is it enough to fly your drone anytime, anywhere and sell those stunning aerials to anyone who’ll buy them or post them on social media channels (in many cases with illegal music)… you also want to prove that they were legally acquired.

Stick, Carrot, certified aerials, legal aerial footage, SkytangoI’ve traveled the world in the last 14 months speaking at drone conferences and events and everywhere I’ve listened to the same story from angry pilots who are still competing with illegal operators pushing rates down and making it hard to earn a living doing a highly skilled job in a regulated space.

‘DRM’, or ‘Digital Rights Management’ (the licensing of music, movies and images for broadcast across multiple channels) is needed in the drone asset space and it is what Skytango has been working toward since our inception. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving that way.

Incentives or ‘carrots’, like insurance breaks and hardware discounts is a step in the right direction. We have always believed that the best way to advance this industry is to offer incentives – where everyone benefits, rather than regulation and policing alone.

So, slowly I am seeing a sea change. Broadcasters and content buyers alike are becoming more and more educated about the process and complexity of flying drones. They are beginning to ask the right questions and are starting to see the inherent risks in using content that wasn’t legally obtained. Technology is advancing so fast that safety concerns around flying these machines are being addressed on a constant basis.

The bigger issue today is around Data Protection and Privacy. The approach of GDPR in Europe will make audit trails a necessity in this industry and I have no doubt the rest of the world will follow suit.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us and stayed with us on this journey.  We are here for the long haul and look forward to working with you in the future.

Steven Flynn
Licensed Drone Pilot, Skytango Founder & CEO

Steve Flynn is a multiple Emmy Award-winning Director of Photography, Director and Editor. He has worked with many major broadcast companies including PBS, CBS, HGTV, Discovery, BBC, RTE and even spent time working with Prince at Paisley Park. He has been a licensed drone pilot since 2013 and is the Founder and CEO of Skytango