TDW talk with the Young Drone pilot from Switzdrland Simon Léchot. Read about his recreational drone flying, his drone journey and what it’s like being a young drone pilot in one of the most drone-friendly countries in the world.
Meet Simon – a cheesemaker by day and a drone pilot in his free time!
From Parrot’s Bebop to DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro, Simon has flown a variety of different drones to find the right one.
Find out what the Swiss drone industry is like from a perspective of a young drone pilot.
He shares what is next for him as well as the top 3 tips for every drone pilot out there.
Flying a drone as a hobby and taking drone photos and videos with it has become a popular activity for many young people around the world. One such young talented man is Simon Léchot from the European hub of drone technology – Switzerland. Besides his day job in the cheese industry, Simon is a young drone pilot. As he tells us, there’s a drone always in his car in case an opportunity for a gorgeous shot arises.
Check out his wild adventures with different drones, how he learned to fly them as well as his views on the industry…
A Cheesemaker Who Flies Drones
TDW: It’s always nice to talk with young drone pilots, Simon. So, for starters, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
S.L.: Thanks for having me. I’m 23 and I’m living in Switzerland. Now I work in the cheese industry after I finished my apprenticeship in a cheese factory a few years back. In fact, I’m the first one in my family to have a job like this. Now it’s been three years since I’m working there. Outside of work, I used to go to the gym a lot. Also, I play football [known as soccer in the US] as a goalkeeper. And I like to play computer games with my friends, have a beer, and just enjoy life. Of course, in between all of these activities I love flying my drone and taking photos.
TDW: How did it all start? Did you learn to fly drones on your own or attend classes?
S.L.: I learned alone, all by myself. I had an RC plane and I flew it correctly for two minutes after which it crashed (laughs). But when it comes to flying a drone, it’s been very easy for me. Especially, with the DJI ones. They really aren’t complicated for flying. And I learned by constantly practicing, practicing, and practicing. I try to improve my drone flying skills and do what I know.
TDW: That’s great! Before you started drone photography have you tried so-called traditional photography with a camera?
S.L.: Actually, no. I started flying a drone before I started with photography. Simply put, drones have led me to drone photography. I started photography just like that, while I was flying my drone. I was flying and taking photos. Some of them went through post-production, whereas some didn’t.
I’ve been a fan of flying objects since I was a very small child. My dad used to work at an airport and when I was young I used to go with him every time I could. I liked sitting behind the window and watching the planes taking off and flying in the sky.
A Turbulent Drone Journey
TDW: That’s very interesting because we’ve talked with plenty of photographers who have embraced drone photography and then became drone pilots. And which drone did you start with?
S.L.: My first drone for photography was the Bebop made by the French company Parrot. It’s one of those drones that you can control with your phone. However, I thought that it wasn’t really nice to fly it with your phone, so I upgraded to DJI’s Phantom 3 Advanced.
Then I moved onto Mavic Pro – the first version. And I restarted my photography journey. I posted some of the photos online but then I stopped. I did military service and, I have to say, I completely lost motivation to fly.
One day I said to myself, I have a drone and even though I don’t know what I’ll do with it, I’ll go and fly and see how it goes. I got back and sold my drone two months after that. I was busy during that time…
TDW: And that isn’t the way how your drone journey ended, right?
S.L.: Absolutely not. I’d say, a year after that, I was thinking of buying a drone again and I didn’t know which one. The Mavic Pro was pretty expensive and it was an old model by then, so I went with the Mavic Air.
Then, I actually crashed my Mavic Air when I was flying it in the fog (laughs). I told myself I need a new drone – I didn’t want another Mavic Air because I wasn’t a fan of the Wi-Fi connection.
So, I upgraded to the Mavic 2 Pro. I’ve flown it for two years now. I take it almost everywhere I go. It’s in my car all the time and when I see something interesting to photograph, I’m ready.
TDW: Wow, you’ve tried so many models! And what do you like so much about the Mavic 2 Pro that you finally landed on that one?
S.L.: When I bought it, I noticed that it’s one of the most expensive DJI drones at the moment. And a lot of people were flying it. So, I thought to myself it must be good (laughs). And have in mind that I knew nothing about drone photography at that time.
I liked that you can fly it for more than thirty minutes without charging it and the entire quality of the camera. And I bought it. I had no idea about all the opportunities and the things I could do with this drone. I only found out about its details afterward.
Being a Young Drone Pilot in Switzerland
TDW: Nowadays a lot of channels exist for people to enjoy cyber tourism or drone tourism. This has especially gained ground during the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you think that drone tourism is important to promote countries and their beauty like Switzerland?
S.L.: That’s nice, yeah. Thanks to drone tourism, you can see things that you don’t see every day. You can discover the world from a different angle. But, I’m also a bit against it because I think that there are a lot of people who are flying without the knowledge of where they can and can’t fly, what’s dangerous and what isn’t… Plus, nothing beats seeing actual locations in person. I’m not entirely against and not entirely for it – maybe a bit more in favor of it since I’m a part of this industry (laughs).
The bottom line is that I think it’s nice as long as we all know what we do.
TDW: Yes, and what do you think about the Swiss drone industry? Do you like the regulations and do you think that something can be improved?
S.L.: When it comes to drone regulations and laws, I believe it’s important that we all follow them. I use the maps on the Confederation’s website that point out where I’m allowed to fly. There’s also a map for drone flying by DJI. Interestingly, sometimes the map on the Confederation’s website shows that a place is a no-fly zone, but, the DJI app doesn’t say that. For instance, this happens with small airports. The DJI map doesn’t have all of them marked.
We have a lot of airports, so flying can be a bit dangerous, especially if you don’t know where you can fly. Where I live, there are a lot of these small airports. So, you can easily find yourself in a no-fly zone if you aren’t paying attention or you don’t know about that. What’s more, I think there should be more information about the pilots.Overall, in my opinion, Switzerland is great for flying your drone.
TDW: Of course, Switzerland has breath-taking sites and landmarks for taking drone photos. What’s your favorite location for taking drone photos?
S.L.: I can’t decide on just one in Switzerland – there are so many of them. I really like taking drone photos of nature and flying outside of the city. There’s one place I really, really like called Creux du Van. It’s located in the Neuchâtel canton. I had the biggest pleasure to fly there. It was very windy and hard to take photos with my drones. But it was very rewarding in the end.
TDW: What about locations in the world?
S.L.: I haven’t flown outside of Switzerland much, maybe just a bit in Italy. But where I’d like to take photos in the future? Definitely the Dolomites in Italy.
TDW: Cool choice! And for the people whose bucket list wish is to fly a drone in Switzerland, is it easy for tourists to carry their drones with them when traveling?
S.L.: I remember I took my Phantom 3 on a plane. The drone was with the rest of my luggage in the cabin. I just had to place the batteries in a separate plastic bag made for them. And that was it. So, it’s very easy and there isn’t really much space to do something wrong.
TDW: So, tourists can join a growing Swiss drone community without any problems. Why do you think that so many people are becoming drone pilots – is it maybe the drone-friendly laws, the trends, or something else?
S.L.: Yeah, I think that drones are popular because it’s very easy to enter the drone game. It won’t cost you plenty of money. For example, the Mavic Mini is a very affordable drone to get people started.It’s still something new for most people in Switzerland, though. As I can see on Instagram, there is a certain number of pilots like me who fly in Switzerland, but that number isn’t very high. I believe that the people that follow me on Instagram or Simon Wicht, who is a friend of mine, can get inspired and start flying drones. And let’s grow our community!
What’s Next for Simon?
TDW: Besides drone photography, have you ever thought about taking up drone racing in the future? Would you like to add ‘drone racer’ to your name?
S.L.: To be frank, I’ve never looked into drone racing before. I have a friend who just bought the DJI FPV drone. And I believe it’s a great feeling to fly with a first-person view. But, I don’t think that it’s the right thing for me – it’s going way too fast.
I once tried the DJI goggles with the Mavic 2 and I didn’t feel good having them on.
But I think it’s a cool addition to the world of drones as you can see things from an entirely new perspective.
TDW: Fair enough. Do you have any plans when it comes to you and your drone?
S.L.: Definitely, getting the license is the next step for me. I’m trying to be more consistent with my flying schedule and to post on Instagram more regularly. You know, my drone journey has seen ups and downs. I give my hundred percent on it and then I leave everything two weeks after that because I’m busy with something else.
So, I’ll try to enjoy my drone flying more and see if other people enjoy what I do as much as I do.
For now, I don’t want to do drone photography as professionally as others. It’s a great hobby for me.
Young people like Simon are proof that drones are now accessible more than ever and you can enjoy flying them recreationally. We can’t wait to see what this young drone pilot comes up with next and which location we’ll explore from a unique perspective thanks to drone photography.
The Drones World team thanks Simon for his great answers and for his time to chat with us! If you want to check out more of his photos and videos, you can visit his Instagram profile as well as his profile on Shutterstock.
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