How Christine Lozada Teaches Drone Pilots How to Fly a Drone

TDW talk with Christine Lozada – a non-stop traveler and a drone pilot who loves teaching others (especially women) how to fly a drone.

  • A drone pilot and drone educator that takes chances and smashes fear – meet Christine Lozada.

  • Take a closer look at some of Christine’s wildest droning moments as well as insight into how she teaches people to fly drones.

  • Find out what’s next for Christine, including a top-secret project!

Christine often describes herself as a nonstop traveler. In the first half of 2022, she made more than 29 trips (each trip consisted of multiple destinations). Sometimes located in California and Florida, Christine has traveled the world and what’s even better – she constantly treats her growing follower base with amazing content. Starting from a few years back, this content includes breath-taking photos and videos taken with her drone which she carries all the time with her. A drone pilot is far from the only profession you can use to describe her. She offers courses for teaching new drone pilots (especially focusing on women) how to fly a drone, too.

Also, Christine is a traveler, YouTuber, (drone) content creator, drone educator, and a Women Who Drone Ambassador. Recently, she received a Trailblazer Award at the Bessie Awards – a trailblazing creator award at the Women in Travel summit as a result of her drone work and empowering other women to fly drones. In her own words, she takes chances, smashes fear, and is a huge nerd.

EXCLUSIVE: All readers of The Drones World blog can get a 30% discount on one of Christine’s hottest courses ‘How to fly a drone’ . All you have to do is use the code THEDRONESWORLD

Get to Know Christine

“Drones are actually newer for me,” begins Christine with a vibrant tone in her voice, a wide smile and passion in her eyes when she starts speaking about her drone adventures and the drone pilots she has helped and connected with. 

“I started flying a drone in January 2020 and around that time I started becoming a travel creator.” Before that, she used to do marketing in the business world for companies like Amazon and Walmart.

Since she began traveling the world a lot, she realized she wanted to help other people travel the world. That is how her travel YouTube channel was born.

“One of the best ways to capture your travels is from the sky. So, I used a drone to tell stories and to help discover the places that I was traveling to,” Christine adds.

As a drone educator, she helps drone pilots to find out more about their drones and how to fly a drone. Primarily, most of her students are female drone pilots in the true spirit of a Women Who Drone Ambassador to include more women in the drone industry.

Why drone photography: “When you’re traveling to a new place and you want to see as much as you can, nothing helps you see faster than a drone. While you stand in one place, you can now go look in a million places. 

So many times while I’m traveling, I would never find something unless I had a drone with me. One time, I was in Brooklyn, New York – one of the hardest places to fly legally. I was flying from an aviation park where I had a membership and 100 feet (around 30 meters) away from me is a boat graveyard. You would never see this boat graveyard with tons of sunken boats with their bones showing through the waves unless you had a drone.

Droning is one of the best ways to explore the places I travel to. Then, obviously it’s the best establishing shot as a content creator to talk about where you’re going.”

First drone: “DJI Mavic Mini (which I still love so much). As a content creator, for me, DJI drones are a must.”

Drone lineup: “My next drone was the Mavic Air 2. When I realized I wanted the Mavic Air 2s, I gave away my Mavic Air 2 to a content creator in need. Then, I bought the DJI FPV. It’s super fun yet super difficult to fly. Now I’m waiting for my Mini 3 Pro.”

The best features in a drone: “Firstly, I love the panorama and the panoramic photos. A lot of people know about the horizontal panoramic, but not a lot of them use the vertical panoramic. The latter was what I used a lot in the Mavic Air, the Air 2, and the Air 2S.

This gets you the best Instagram stories and social media shots, in general. So, it’s no surprise that DJI came out with the Mini 3, which now shoots vertical panoramas because it’s not easy to always figure out the crop and how to do that.

Secondly, it’s the hyper-lapse. Of course, you have to have a non-windy day for it to work perfectly. I am a sucker for a beautiful hyper-lapse where your drone is moving and capturing that moving time-lapse. Yet, you have to be willing to sacrifice a full battery for it because it takes time. In my opinion, a good hyper-lapse should be at least 20+ minutes long.”

Read More: Drone Photos as NFTs: The Next Big Boom in the Industry

Droning Adventures

From Hawaii to Ethiopia, Christine has flown her drones across most of the continents. With that, comes a bundle of remarkable, unforgettable adventures.

A story you’ll never forget: “One of the most beautiful places to fly is in Hawaii. Sandy beaches. Stunning volcanic mountains. What’s interesting about Hawaii is that the weather patterns are pretty intense with rain coming in very quickly and leaving very quickly. 

Even though I have the right apps for watching the weather, I flew my drone one day and I had it on this beautiful ridgeline of a mountain, capturing the clouds coming in. It was very very far – I could still see it, but it was insanely far. As per normal, your drone controller will sometimes lose connection with the drone. 

The normal safety setting is when you lose connection, the drone should automatically return home. However, because of the way I had been flying on previous flights, I had turned that off. I forgot to turn it back on.

So what happened at that moment was, instead, the drone just stayed there. I knew I had eight minutes left before that drone was out of batteries and would auto-land in that spot which was in a place where there’s no way you could get it.

I’m watching with eight minutes left as clouds come in very quickly and it starts to pour rain – not where I’m at, but where the drone is at. I see my drone is getting wet and all these questions start going on in my head. In these situations, you can either pray or you can try to get as close to your drone as possible.

So, I started running.

I’m holding several camera bags and wearing flip-flops and I’m in the mountains. I started running toward my drone and I’m getting closer and closer and closer, holding the controller and looking at its black screen, waiting for it to reconnect.

The cloud is pouring rain on the drone. It’s still in the sky. Four minutes have passed, which means very soon auto-land is going to kick in.

Finally, at the last minute, I get to a fence and I actually can’t get any closer to the drone. I get as close as I can go all the way up to the fence and put my hand on the other side of the fence.

“God, if you’re there, this is the moment to help me,” I said and at that moment it reconnected to my drone. Immediately, I flipped it into sport mode and I flew it back to me as quickly as I could.

One of the things that happens when your drone is running out of batteries is auto-landing and you have to keep pushing the up stick to keep it in the air. So, it was landing and flying towards me and I got it at the last minute and it was completely soaked. Somehow it was totally fine. Now I have a 16-minute video of the rain coming through and a rainbow coming out. I will admit I cried tears of joy when it came back.”

Top 5 locations you recommend for flying drones: “I recommend everywhere, especially beach locations. If I have to choose: 1) Hawaii (because of the beach and the volcanic mountain and also you will see at least five turtles a day), 2) Bonaire, near Aruba and Curacao (the pink salt flats are even more stunning from a drone perspective), 3) the Maldives (for obvious reasons), 4) Florida (if I were to give a specific place within Florida, it would be the Gulf Coast with its incredible beaches and sunsets), and 5) San Diego (a difficult place to fly, yet the coastlines, especially those around La Jolla are worth it. It’s a challenge to fly there because you have airports around and a lot of helicopter activity. If you can find the right spots to fly legally, the views of the waves, the surfers, and the cliffs are impressive).”

Read More: California by Drone: Enjoy the Golden State from Aerial Perspective

Top 5 locations where you’d like to fly a drone: “1) Colorado (I’ve only captured the snow a few times, so I’d love to do some more of that and capture mountains), 2) the Glamis sand dunes in California (and capturing other sand dunes would be amazing), 3) Egypt (It would be really hard to fly though, but I imagine it would be worth it), 4) Key West (It’s a no-drone zone, because of the increased naval activity there. However, if I could get a permit, it would be so beautiful to fly a drone there), 5) somewhere you aren’t allowed to fly like the ruins of Rome or the ruins of Tulum. Just to see those types of landmarks would be special.

Also, doing a timelapse up Fifth Avenue in New York City would be amazing, but sadly it isn’t allowed.”

Choose the Right Drone For Drone Operators

‘Which drone should I buy,’ is one of the top questions on the mind of every soon-to-be pilot. That’s why Christine has developed a drone quiz to help people with their new drones. It’s a tool that asks you questions like whether you prioritize the quality of the camera or the price as well as the purpose of flying a drone, and similar. As a drone educator, Christine told us that is the top question she gets all the time.

“Drones are not new – they’ve been around for a long time. But, the people who talk about it openly are the people who’ve been doing it for a long time and I get it. They make it really complicated for new people, which frustrates me a lot.

Basically, one of the things about drones is that you push a button and then it does everything for you. Most people don’t understand that. So, one thing I’ve tried very hard to do is to take something seemingly complex and simplify it a lot using everyday terms.

When we’re starting, we don’t need to hear the specifics and intricacies of drone parts. Instead, we need to hear push the left button and then move it like this and that’s really what you do.

To anyone wondering which drone is the most suitable for them, I would say the simplest way to answer this is that the majority of people who are wondering about this and need help are generally everyday people. Moreover, I tend to drive people toward DJI drones.

I think they are like Apple with phones – they make the everyday drone that’s easier to understand. From there, it’s just a matter of choosing one within that product range.

My advice is – don’t buy the drone now that you think you’re going to use a year from now. Buy the drone when you’re ready to use the drone and before you’re ready to fly. Too many people finally invested in the Mavic Mini and it’s still in the box and they’re still getting ready to fly it. Now the 3 Pro is out and the one they purchased is outdated.

Back in the day, drones were a kind of investment. Now, they are more affordable.”

Christine has designed a special (and free) course to help people determine the right drone for them, too.

Read More:

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Teaching Drone Pilots How to Fly a Drone

TDW: How does a day or a session look like with the drone pilots you’re teaching? What are the steps you show them first?

C.L.: I use two ways of educating people. In fact, the way I teach people in person is no different than the way my online course is held. 

During the online course, it’s literally you and me together. ‘Get your drone.’ ‘Do this.’ and similar. We’re doing things together. It can go a bit slower, so you can speed it up if you want or slow it down. It’s a very step-by-step course.

The number one thing that happens when people fly drones is they take the drone, launch it, and then they start flying it around then. Suddenly, they don’t know how to control it or how to bring it back to them, or how to land it. It’s very discouraging. Often, people treat drones like cars and they say to themselves ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been driving this thing my whole life.’ Then, all of a sudden, they have this flying thing and they’re like ‘I don’t know how to control that.’

So, the way I teach people and what that looks like is when we launch a drone we don’t just launch it and start flying. You will launch and land it around five to ten times just so you can understand there is more than one way to launch a drone.

Afterward, we learn one stick at a time. We’re launching and we add on just going up and down. Then, we go all the way up to 100 feet (around 30 meters). What happens when the drone reaches 200 feet (around 61 meters)? What does that look like or sound like? We bring it down and land it again. Then, all the way up.

The next step is incorporating the right stick and moving just forward and back. Then, we’re trying different speeds and, finally, we bring it all together.

When new drone pilots are learning, they need to know about the advanced safety settings and what they should do in various situations that come up the most. Teaching people what to do in emergencies helps them with their confidence and comfort.

Flying drones is ridiculously easy. It’s people finding the confidence in themselves and the confidence in understanding the drone that’s the barrier. If you can get over that and simplify it, then it’s a piece of cake.

Christine Lozada

Also, what I love doing, especially at my meetups, is teaching one person and then making that person teach the next one. Then, that person has to teach the next person. It’s both amazing and funny because the first person who’s teaching this is watching the fifth person teach the sixth person now giving them tips. I feel so proud.

TDW: Amazing! Once you learn the basics of flying a drone, you have to use the drone for something. Especially with drone photography, videography, and the entertainment industry in general, storytelling and editing are an important part. This is true even for people who use drones in architecture, agriculture, and similar. You’re also covering that in your courses.

C.L.: The biggest challenge for people I see is that they will shoot first and then will try to find a story. Often, they can’t figure out what the story is, in the first place.

For me, this is the moment when you put on your traveler hat. So, as a traveler, I’m someone who really loves exploring and am really curious about the place that I’m at.

When you’re flying a drone, clearly you have an amazing perspective and you can go to a lot of places.

Storytelling, in my opinion, is about why I am in that place in the first place, what is interesting about this place and what is it that I’m looking at with the drone that draws me in. Also, it’s about something really interesting that someone might not know about this place.

For instance, Sarasota, Florida is one of my favorite places to travel and fly drones. There are these really beautiful mangroves that you can kayak in. From a drone perspective, it just looks out of this world. However, the unique thing about these mangroves is that even though there are so many of them, they’re actually man-made. Subsequently, a super cool story can explain why they are there in the first place, that they actually protect the land in a way, that if they weren’t there the entire coastline would be eroded, there would be fewer fish, and everyone would be eaten alive by mosquitoes…

Now that you have this unique location/landscape that drew you in, what is the story that you want to tell someone, and what are the shots that support that? When you start thinking, you might realize you need close-up shots of the mangroves and then top-down drone photos. You might want your drone flying through the mangroves if you’re skilled enough to fly or photos and drone videos of people going through the mangroves in a kayak. Also, establishing shots of the rest of Sarasota behind the mangroves may be incredibly useful. After all, this is what those mangroves are protecting.

TDW: Of course, having a plan of what you’re going to capture is useful in these situations. How can drone pilots prepare beforehand?

C.L.: Simply ask yourself while you’re flying what it is that made me launch my drone right here and what is something that I would want to share with someone else.

When you start from that, then you go get the shots and your shot list is very clear versus going with the flow and capturing random shots that don’t help you tell a story. Having a list of drone shots beforehand is super helpful regardless of the location.

Remember that the drone shot list when you’re launching a drone on a boat as opposed to flying a drone above snowmobiles or being in some other location definitely isn’t the same. The story will also determine the list of drone pictures.

Speaking of that, make sure you take both photos and drone videos. So many times I’ll finish a flight and when I look at my files I have 89 videos and not a single photo. You don’t want that [laughs].

TDW: Absolutely! So, after your memory card is full of drone photos and videos, it’s time for editing. You often champion for quick edits even on your phone as well as professional software. What do you advise new drone pilots to do when it comes to editing?

C.L.: The majority of people who are flying drones are people who are drone pilots and aren’t necessarily photographers. So, a lot of people are both trying to learn to fly a drone and take great photos and videos.

If you aren’t a photographer, you should at least get the basics of how to take photos and videos. Until you get the gist of it, leave it in an auto setting and put a simple ND filter on your drone. That way you can get more, especially in terms of more cinematic videos. So, getting the settings right and keeping them basic is fine.

Also when it comes to editing, Adobe software is totally fine. But, too many people become overwhelmed. They have to process all of the raw shots on their computers, buy Adobe Premiere or Photoshop and Lightroom or similar.

In my case, 95.8% of what you see on my social media platforms is edited straight off of my phone using the iPhone Photos app (not even pulling it into an editor) or using very basic and often free apps. I shot the first 100 travel YouTube videos using iMovie, which is very, very simple to use. 

So, you don’t need to overwhelm yourself with editing. If anything, if you already got the best view of the sky, it’s going to look amazing no matter what.

I legitimately think it’s more important to continuously and consistently share your work with the world. Don’t hold onto some amazing stuff you already have. I can’t tell you how many people I know have thousands of photos and videos and have not shared a single one because they’re waiting to edit them.

At the end of the day, what you have shot three months ago should make you cringe. You should be improving your skill with every flight. When I look at my drone photos and videos from a couple of months ago, I can see I am better now.

“Share often, keep it simple, and make sure your settings are right when you shoot in the first place.”

Christine Lozada

Another useful tip I found is – if all else goes wrong, shoot when it’s most beautiful. Go at sunrise and sunset and it’s guaranteed to be beautiful. Also, go somewhere beautiful! If you take drone photos of the Maldives at sunrise, they will be undeniably stunning.

Read More: What Does Joanna Steidle’s Process of Editing Drone Photos Look Like?

TDW: As a blog, we advocate for highlighting diverse drone stories from the industry. So, thank you for everything that you’re doing in terms of focusing on female drone pilots and teaching more women how to fly a drone and become a part of the drone community. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

C.L.: It’s an important question – thank you for asking it. I’ve realized the thing that holds her back is confidence. Also, we don’t see plenty of women represented in the industry. I remember when I tried to learn how to fly, it was presented to me as complicated. At that time, I kind of wanted to give up at some point.

To empower more women to fly, I’d say just get it [your drone work] out in the world. When women see other women flying, they are more likely to pick up their drones. When women see more women flying, they will turn to their boyfriend and say, ‘Hey, let me try flying for once’ or ‘Finally, teach me how to fly.’ 

I encourage a lot of women to not only post what they’ve captured but show themselves in the photo and video. If you see other interested women, encourage them, offer to let them fly your drone and try it out or show them what you’re looking at. The more women you highlight who are doing things in the drone space, the more it helps everybody.

Looking Ahead…

TDW: What lies in the future for you besides teaching more people how to fly a drone?

C.L.: I’ll leave it as a cliffhanger. I got burned out, traveling and creating. Right now I’m taking a moment to reset.

I also have a talent agent whom I recently went to Hollywood with. The rest of my year is going to be super crazy. For now, I’ll just say it involves a film production – a top-secret project – that is going to be so cool and will include a lot of drones.

Christine teaches drone pilot how to fly a drone

We can’t wait to see and write about this project (and all the other amazing projects) Christine does. We, at The Drones World, thank her wholeheartedly for the devoted time, insightful answers, and incredible energy. Find out more about her on her official website, her drone YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram, and her blog.

Until next time…

In the meantime, check out our interviews with other inspiring drone pilots and creators from all over the world.

All photos featured in this blog post belong to Christine Lozada.


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