24-year-old Lexie Janson is quickly becoming Europe’s FPV star. Originally from Gdynia, Poland, she’s traveling all over the continent, calling me from a trip to Ireland where she was preparing for Irish Drone Nationals. We discussed getting sponsorships, air traffic control and of course, drone racing. Read on!
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Drone Girl: I was expecting to talk to you from Poland, but it turns out you’re in Ireland!
Lexie Janson: I’m in 3 countries in 3 weeks. I just got done meeting some guys who are my fans. They took me to some awesome spots to fly FPV.
DG: Jeez, you’re famous!
LJ: I don’t feel famous.
DG: Okay, so for people who don’t know you, tell us how you got into drones.
LJ: I was always a gamer. I met a guy on a gaming forum. He wanted to show me something “really awesome.” It was a really old drone — a cheap one, and FatShark Attitudes V1. He put the goggles on my head and he flew.
I knew this was something I would do for the rest of my life so I bought some drone gear and started building.
From there, I met more guys in the industry from a Facebook group. I found a group in my city and we started flying together, and they gave me tips.
DG: Do you prefer racing or freestyle?
LJ: I think I’m both. Sometimes you can’t do racing. If you’re around mountains or an old castle, you can’t race that. You want to freestyle that!
DG: And now you’ve grown into a well-known pilot with sponsors!
LJ: That started back in January, and it’s been really crazy. A friend of mine, FPV Princess, messaged me that there was a guy who wanted to sponsor her from a company that made drone frames She asked if I would like it too, because she said she looked up to me.
It’s the first sponsorship I got, but it turned out to be a nightmare. I hated it. The guys were really not nice. They used our ideas without asking us for permission, and it was hard to contact them. Guys will often say that “girls have it easier.” They also said I should just “be quiet and be pretty.” To that, I said ‘goodbye.’
DG: So what are you doing now?
LJ: After this I got a proposition from Tattu, which I took because I always loved their products. They’ve been great.
My next sponsor was DemonRC, whose owner asked me to join his team just after we firstly met for a little flying. After that, at Friedewalde, Ke from Gemfan met with me and after a race proposed a sponsorship. And also in Germany, my current team, Infinityspin, found me. I feel really blessed about all of them.
When working with sponsors and seeing what’s going on in the drone industry I decided to stay straight to my morals.
DG: That’s great advice. Talk to me about how you get sponsors.
LJ: I know that sponsors are looking for people really active on social media. Even if you have been flying for 3 years and you don’t have a YouTube channel, they won’t be interested.
Sometimes you’ll sign an agreement like having a certain amount of photos on Instagram.
DG: And do they reach out to you?
LJ: Not necessarily. Once I messaged Gemfan on Instagram about a sponsorship and they never answered me. Then I tried Facebook and they answered. So if it doesn’t work in some place, maybe it will work somewhere else. Never take a non-answer as a no. Keep trying.
DG: Pivoting in a different direction, I can’t help but notice whenever you talk about drone pilots, you always say “guys” when you talk about drone pilots. Is that because you’re always flying with guys?
LJ: When I started three years ago, I was literally the only woman out there. It was hard, but I like to think I made a path for other girls. A lot of girls I talk to now say they started because they saw me somewhere. One Russian girl just messaged me that she started because of me. I felt so special.
I now see more women in aerial photography, but when it comes to FPV there are fewer girls.
DG: What gear do you use?
DG: What’s your advice for someone wanting to get into FPV?
LJ: Start with a simulator. You need to know what to move or do. Buy a toy drone — no more than $50. Get used to what you have to do with your thumbs. Buy something cheap. You will destroy your first drone, 100%. I’m sure of that. Then upgrade. I’m still waiting for the perfect gear.