Introduction to drones workshop

On Saturday 10th November I’m running a unique ‘Introduction to Drones’ workshop in Townsville (North Queensland).

This workshop will give you a solid base for useful, enjoyable, safe & legal recreational or commercial drone flying and a leg-up to another level if you already have a drone. This drone training runs for a full day, so it’s worth travelling to attend.

Why is this drone training workshop unique? I’ve attended many drone training sessions myself, in Australia and overseas.

This is the workshop I would love to have attended when I was starting out – it would have saved me a massive amount of time. To obtain the knowledge I have, I’ve had to do a lot of training in a wide variety of places, spend thousands of dollars and fly drones for many hours.

I run these drone workshops because nothing quite like this is being run by anyone else, anywhere!

Tropical coast between Townsville and Ingham (drone photography). A lot of airspace around Townsville is a no-fly zone, without a CASA drone pilot licence plus special permission. However there are many great locations nearby to fly drones safely and legally and we can discuss good places to practice flying during the drone training session.


Tickets for this drone training event can be purchased via Eventbrite.


  • Buying drones: choosing between drone models; the pros & cons of the different features to consider in relation to your specific purposes, & where to buy
  • Buying drone accessories: what do you need & what is a waste of money
  • Vital laws every drone pilot must know – plus where to get reliable information
  • Safe flight & problem avoidance – no drones should ever crash
  • Drone software difficulties – tips on how to conquer the inevitable glitches (an especially useful & unique session)
  • Aerial photography – overview
  • Image & flight data admin – what isn’t covered in any other drone workshops (it’ll save you a lot of headscratching)
  • Career & business opportunities for drone pilots – what is realistic now & what the future holds
  • Children & drones – what every parent should know
  • Travel – airline & overseas drone rules
  • Info sources – where to obtain reliable drone information; plus which online drone groups to join and which to avoid
  • Summary of CASA drone pilot certification (Remote Pilot Certificate, Aeronautical Radio Operators Certificate, Remote Operators Certificate. Plus info on night flight training). What is involved in becoming a certified drone pilot plus the pros & cons. (Full CASA drone licencing costs $4-5,000. The exact cost depends on which company you train with.)

Topics are practical and based on experience – I cut to the chase and as I do not sell drones or run drone licencing courses my advice is completely independent & objective.

Cordillo Downs, South Australia (drone photography). Workshops are illustrated with Fiona Lake’s photographs, taken across Australia


I use DJI drones as examples simply because that’s the brand I use most often.  However the same principles apply to all drones, so this workshop is relevant to all.


Age range:

  • From 16 years upwards – I’ve had people in their 80s attend workshops and sometimes they’ve been the keenest in the room.
  • Under sixteens welcome if accompanied by a parent (family discount available – enquire if you’d like details)

Experience & background:

  • Relevant to city & town and rural & remote residents
  • All levels of experience. This workshop is very comprehensive and will include useful info for experienced pilots as well as anyone new to drones.  If you have quite a bit of hands-on experience but haven’t undergone any drone training, you will be surprised by how much else there is to learn and make use of.
  • Both recreational & commercial drone pilots – I run a small business and drones are an integral part of it, so this workshop includes practical first-hand advice. However the workshop is equally useful for recreational drone pilots, not just business users.
  • Industries – my work involves professional photography, writing, social media, agriculture & travel – however the content of these drone workshops applies to every drone use.

Fruit tree pruning, Northern Victoria (drone photography). Fiona Lake’s work involves photography, agriculture & travel but the content of Fiona’s drone workshops applies to every use for drones.


Drone operators with hands-on experience but who haven’t undergone any training:

  • A lot of unanswered queries will be addressed – how your drone operates and CASA laws will make sense
  • Tips to make your drone flying more enjoyable and efficient, plus business ideas if you’re thinking of putting your drone to work
  • If you’ve crashed a drone and don’t know why, this workshop may hold the answer for you and prevent a repeat disaster

New drone operators:

  • Feel confident enough to choose the drone & accessories best suited to your specific purposes (& understand if you need to trade-in what you already have)
  • Know what can and can’t be done with a drone & where to go to get future queries answered reliably
  • Understand the basic aviation laws that every drone pilot must know, where to get detailed information, & know how to keep up-to-date with changes
  • Be able to reduce the likelihood of hardware problems and able to solve most software headaches faster


  • You’ll have a template for ensuring your children fly drones safely & legally.
  • Advice on the best drones to buy for students (eg drones that can be programmed); saving you money and ensuring maximum learning.

Burdekin Falls Dam, North Queensland (drone photography). Aerial photography has existed for more than a century – but drones have now made it relatively cheap and easy for anyone to see the world from above.  Though drones look like toys they’re exceedingly complex machines and understanding them results in much better drone pilots.


All day. Because:

  • We’ll be covering a useful level of detail, having interesting discussions and a laugh along the way.
  • Attendees are able to meet one another & converse during the breaks – additional learning plus networking with people who share a common interest.
  • A full day of good quality content means it’s worth travelling to attend. I know how frustrating it is to find a workshop which looks good except that it only runs for 2 hours and just skims the surface – not enough substance to justify travelling a long distance for.

What day & time?

  • Saturday 10th November.
  • 8.30am for a 9am sharp start; finish at 5pm (but conversations can continue over dinner).


How to book:

Tickets for this drone training event can be purchased via Eventbrite.

What to bring to the drone workshop:

  • Not essential but useful – a mobile phone with CASA’s ‘Can I Fly There’ app already downloaded. ‘Can I Fly There’ app – download from CASA’s website.
  • If you have a drone you’re welcome to bring it as we’ll be running through drone ‘anatomy’ so you can check yours out at the same time. We will not be flying drones as hands-on skill is a minor part of flying drones. To illustrate this – while CASA does require Australian drone pilots to do a simple flight test before licencing, the FAA does not require American drone pilots to undergo a flight test. It is knowledge that makes a good drone pilot.
  • I will have all my drones, accessories, cases, manuals etcetera at the workshop.

Drone night flight training with Sundance Media, Las Vegas. Flying drones at night is illegal in most countries, without being licenced and trained – because there are additional safety risks. (Mobile phone image)


I’m one of Australia’s best qualified & most experienced drone pilots:

  • Fully licenced by CASA (Remote Pilot Licence & Remote Operators Certificate).
  • Night flight certified (undertaken specialist training in the US).
  • Attended training & workshops in various locations across Australia and the US (New York, North Carolina & Nevada).
  • I’ve run drone workshops & presentations from southern Victoria to Far North Queensland; from one hour sessions to full days.  Most recently at InterDrone, North America’s largest commercial drone conference.  (But I haven’t run a drone workshop on my own doorstep in Townsville – yet!)
  • I own several drones and have undertaken many hours of drone flight, across 4 Australian states.
  • Won a number of awards & received peer recognition – including, in 2018: named by Chicago-based Women and Drones as one of ten ‘Women to Watch in UAS’ (unmanned aviation systems); ‘Rural Drone Academy’ – AgriFutures Rural Woman of the Year finalist for Queensland, one of the Queensland Government’s ‘Community Digital Champions’ & Queensland Government ‘100 Faces of Small Business’.

Fiona Lake’s 2018 exhibition at the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C. was opened by Australia’s Ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey


  • If this workshop had been held on the other side of Australia when I was starting out, I would have jumped on a plane to attend because it would have been well worth it. This is what I will provide for you.
  • After the official end of the day there is the option to continue conversations over dinner at a nearby restaurant.  The training location is situated right beside many of Townsville’s best restaurants and there’s good hotel accommodation on site.  The icing on the cake of events is often the great conversations after the official conclusion – it’s where you find the keenest people.
  • Training & direct costs are usually tax deductible if drone usage is genuinely involved in producing your current year’s income. But do check with your accountant as everyone’s situation differs.
  • If you would like any information on Townsville accommodation, what else there is to do, likely weather or anything else – don’t hesitate to ask.  There is a lot to see and do in and around Townsville – with the start of the wet tropics 60km north, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast, the Burdekin Irrigation Area 60km south and outback cattle stations just over the ranges to the west.
  • This drone workshop has been designed to suit visitors from other states as well as locals.

View from the Strand towards Magnetic Island, Townsville, North Queensland. There is a lot for visitors to do. (Mobile phone image)


  • I also run photography workshops & have a draft plan to run an aerial photography workshop. However – being a specialty topic, it is dependent on there being sufficient interest and it may not be held in Townsville.
  • Participants get the best value from aerial photography workshops if they are a) already using manual camera settings on the ground or are b) already trained/experienced drone pilots. Learning the technicalities of photography and technicalities of drone flying at the same time is fairly inefficient – however participants with all skill levels will find the workshop very useful.
  • Please let me know if a drone photography session is something you may be interested in.


No time to organise workshops in other regions, but I can make time to present workshops – so all ears to invitations from hosts. I work away from home a lot when home I’m flat out catching up.  I’ve had many requests for a comprehensive drone workshop but from people scattered all over Australia, so I designed a one-off that’s worth travelling to attend.  It is unique; there is nothing else quite like this, anywhere. It’s being held in November because it was going to be the only month this year that I was home for 4 weeks in a row (but then a photography commission job was delayed, so I was away for a few days in early November.)

If you’d like drone training in your area then please do let me know if  you get a group of interested participants together or get an organisation interested who would be interested in hosting a drone workshop (either general interest, aerial photography or agriculture-focussed).  I travel all over, presenting workshops/training/public speaking for local councils, industry organisations etc.  Minimum numbers are however required to keep costs down, and it’s best to plan in advance as much as possible, because 2019 is already getting busy after mid February.

If you ask around and can’t find many or any locals interested in attending a professional-standard drone workshop – then that suggests that in the near future there won’t be enough demand in your area, and your only option is to travel to attend training.  I’ve travelled thousands of kilometres to undertake specialist training – if you’re keen, travelling to good quality training is the only option.

The upside of not finding many/any locals interested in a drone workshop – if you upskill now you’ll then be the best informed or one of the best informed drone pilots in your region. Because at present there’s relatively few people with a comprehensive drone experience and knowledge. Being the best informed in your region gives you an obvious advantage in terms of running a business, creating better aerial photographs and mentoring others as interest increases.


DON’T FORGET – Christmas is coming. Know someone who is really hard to buy a present for? A drone training session could be the best present you’ve ever given them.


  • $187.00 per person plus Eventbrite booking fees – total $191.65 (a fraction of what similar quality training would cost elsewhere)
  • Light lunch, morning & afternoon tea
  • Stationery, wi-fi, water, tea & coffee – everything to make it an easy & relaxed day
  • In a great location & fully airconditioned
  • Attendee numbers capped, in order to ensure personal attention
  • I’ve kept the cost of this workshop low, so it’s feasible for those who have significant travel costs
  • The cost of future workshops is likely to be significantly higher.


  • Payment due: on booking, via Eventbrite, to secure place
  • Booking deadline: Monday 5 November – however a late booking may be able to squeeze in – contact Fiona Lake by email or ring (07) 4728 4922
  • Refund policy: full refund up until a week beforehand – Sunday 4 November.
  • If there’s unforeseen circumstances requiring workshop postponement: (eg due to the unlikely event of illness), full refunds issued immediately or credit given to attend the rescheduled session, whichever is preferred by each participant.


Reserve your drone workshop place via Eventbrite.

If you have any queries, don’t hesitate to ask! Options:

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