Interview with Leslie Bates, Drone Enthusiast

We wanted to do this interview with Leslie Bates, Drone Enthusiast, because she is similar to many others seeking to learn more about drones.  Her enthusiasm, her passion for learning, can provide a great approach for others to follow.

Q. How did you get started in this space?

For the past 15 years, I have worked in the energy management industry. In the spring of 2014, I began to notice references to UAS and drones related to energy issues. I started researching the industry and was instantly intrigued. The more I learned, the more I wanted to become involved.

I have primarily been working on my education, training, social media presence(s) and on reaching out to meet others in Louisville, KY.   I have a website which is under construction:, The website will serve as a vehicle for promoting the UAS industry in Louisville, KY; providing a space for local individuals and companies to connect and to list their drone-related products and services.

I just purchased educational materials from Louisville Aviation for private pilot ground school. This certification was recommended to me as a wonderful place to start to gain credibility within the industry and among operators. I have also been researching and seeking out UAS/UAV training courses. I hope to take one or more this spring and summer. I have acquired a couple of small drones, and my family and I have been learning to use them.

Q. What sparked the interest in getting women and children involved in this space?

There are not a lot of women in this space. Since I am a woman, I thought that perhaps I could encourage and engage other women to explore this industry, while I was also researching and exploring it. I also seek to promote the efforts of women already established or emerging in this space. As a mother of two girls, and thinking about the potentially bright future for this industry, it seems I can teach my children a skill while engaging them in fun tech and scientific endeavors.

Q. Do you own your own drone(s)? What kind (s)?

I have a few small drones. As my training and experience progress I will acquire the systems I believe are applicable for each new level of proficiency.

To start, I bought two for my daughters. We have been learning to operate these inside the house. They are small, inexpensive and a wonderful intro size for the kids. I received a for Christmas that is currently still in the box, but will be brought out in short order now that spring is upon us in KY. I acquired a through a Kickstarter Campaign I supported for Spark Aerial. This, too, is in the box, but I have been reading the instructions for this and for the Syma and am anxious to test them out. For my husband, I bought a Drone. He hasn’t tried out the camera functionality on it yet, but we’ve spent a fair bit of time in the yard with it.

The primary objective for each of these initial purchases was to acquire inexpensive equipment that would give us a taste of drone operations. In the spring I will begin to develop opinions about flying one drone versus the other. There is still so much to learn.

Q. How do you hope to see the drone industry evolve over the next five to ten years?

Over the next five to ten years my hope is that society will continue to explore the opportunities and efficiencies to be had or gained by adopting use of unmanned aerial systems. I believe that society and its policies and laws regarding privacy and other hot button issues will adjust and or be adjusted through careful consideration, trial and error to accommodate this resource. When I think about the potential for this space and its applicability across so many industries and facets of society, I am overwhelmed with anticipation and intensely excited about the prospects. Society needs to become more familiar with this industry and its potential, in order for it to become more comfortable with its cultural incorporation.

Q. What is your plan of attack in order to increase your knowledge of this space?

  • Become involved in local drone operator groups (Don’t be nervous about your lack of experience or intimidated by their expertise.)
  • Set up internet browser news alerts for applicable drone industry keywords (Review news as frequently as possible.)
  • Use social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to connect with UAS operators, communities, corporations, non-profits , media outlets, etc. (Re-tweet/share their posts that are of interest to you, and give credit where credit is due.)
  • Write down ideas and thoughts immediately that you want to research later or explore more thoroughly. ( I carry a notebook.)
  • Explore membership in local, regional and national UAS professional associations, such as These memberships entitle you to free resources, webinars and discounted conferences. (I am still researching this piece, so I am open to recommendations from entrenched industry players.)
  • Attend UAS trainings and conferences; both for educational and networking purposes.


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