Kelsey: Hi everybody, I’m Kelsey from She’s On A Roll and this is my interview partner.
Ananely: Hi everybody I am Ananely Alonso, I’m also from She’s On A Roll, and I would like to pass it back to Kelsey.
K: Today we are interviewing Desi Exstien, she is a drone pilot and she’s going to be giving us some information about drones and answer some of our questions.
A: Yes, so if you all are interested please stay tuned. Desi could you please introduce yourself, your current job, and maybe how long you have been working with drones?
Desi: Well first of all, thank you for having me, I am excited to be here to share. I have actually been flying since 2012 and when I started it was just simply that different perspective. I had the flying camera and I made awesome home videos, but then it just kind of progressed and I have a passion to help others and teach and so it expanded. I am really focused on safety so I was able to share that with others as well.
A: What exactly got you interested in the Drone Industry. Is there a specific experience, person?
Desi: Well I come from a family of aviators (pilots). They are all mandocraft, they have private pilot licenses. I have an uncle, my father was a private pilot, and my grandfather, and when it came to me I am a little bit more..I like my feet on the ground, but my head is in the clouds. So when the drones came along it was just the perfect fit. I finally got to pursue a passion and yet I stay safely on the ground. Now, I would love to get a private pilot’s license, but that’s just not really in the cards for me, so this works out really well.
K: So kind of related to that question, do you have any specific experience, like your first experience with drones?
Desi: Okay so, this is actually classic-it’s not just me- this is classic. So when I first started I used to fly this drone that’s called an AI Parrot and it flies from your tablet, which a lot of times it would fly from a phone or tablet or something on the different makes and models, and mine did that. It would be something that you can even tip your tablet and the drone would go that way or whatever, but it was extremely unreliable. And so I found myself up in a tree, on the roof, my husband literally had to climb a tree to get the drone out of the tree. So the good news is because of that I ended up buying another one, and having to repair one while I flew the other one and so now I had two of them that were going. I was really glad when I got my first DJI Phantom 2, it was a Phantom 2 back then, you know much more reliable and a lot less trees.
A: Is there anything you wish you would’ve known before coming into the Drone Industry?
Desi: Documentation. And it’s-ughhh who likes to do paperwork I know-but had I started off following through with all the documentation and everything and known about it because even back then people didn’t know about it and I flew for about two years before somebody said “Hey you know you need to do your pilot’s log”. I hadn’t been tracking any of my hours. I was just out there having fun. And so all of the documentation I wish I would’ve started on that and made that part of my pattern right in the very beginning.
K: So, what is your day-to-day look like as a Drone Pilot?
Desi: Right now it’s full of Zoom. Haha yeah there’s a lot of Zoom. But what’s really neat about right now is that, well for one where I live I can still go out and fly because I’m in a very unpopulated area so there’s not a lot of people around, my mom owns a ranch that is very close to here so I have a lot of space, so I can still fly. But as far as the whole Zoom it’s been an amazing opportunity. It has opened up the entire world and made connections with people that we wouldn’t normally have had.
A: The next question was going to be how has that changed since the pandemic if at all, but since you had already answered that I want to ask how was your experience before the pandemic?
Desi: I did a lot of hands on training. I do miss that aspect of it. I hope to be back out there doing more hands on training. I love being able to help others, that’s my passion in life. When I see somebody that’s starting, when I see somebody who has just gotten a drone and they go “Now what?” I love that I can not only guide them on safety, how they should be flying, but get them over that first initial fear of the sticks, “What way is what”, just let them have that inspirational feeling of getting it up there in the air and saying “I’m doing it. I got it”. So I’m looking forward to getting back to those days where I can get back out there and fly again with other people.
K: So as a woman in STEM we know there are barely any women who are drone pilots and so what has your experience been as a woman in STEM or just as a female drone pilot?
Desi: I have actually seen a lot of advancements now. In the beginning it was a little bit rough, but now I see a lot of encouraging things happening, like for one just the statistics show that women in drones have grown. I am seeing a lot of companies that are wanting to reach out to women, they see the value in hiring women, and so I think it’s presenting a lot of opportunities now because people want to do the right thing by making the equality right and so I am finding there’s more opportunities and doors are opening. It’s encouraging, very encouraging.
A: Do you have any advice for any girls who are looking to get involved with the STEM field, maybe some advice for the girls who will become part of She’s On A Roll?
Desi: Follow your passion. Look for opportunities, when any doors open walk through them. You have to invest in your life and you have to follow whatever dreams that you have inside. There’s nothing you can’t do and nothing will stop you if you have a true passion to make a success of something.
K: Thank you so much for talking with us and answering our questions and giving us some amazing information and insight.
Desi: Thank you for having me.
A: Okay so that concludes our interview, you everyone for being here today and watching us.