From VO to RPIC – Meet Madi Hempel

The opportunity to grow both her experience as a drone pilot and as a photographer – that is what drew Madi Hempel to MissionGO originally as a Visual Observer (VO) and now as a Certified UAS Pilot and Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC). First off, we want to congratulate and celebrate Madi for her promotion to Remote Pilot in Command! According to Women and Drones, women accounted for 7.6% of all FAA Remote Pilots in 2021 and we are proud to support Madi in changing this statistic.

This line of work runs deep in Madi’s roots. Madi’s grandfather owned an RC Hobby shop growing up and she spent much of her time with her dad and grandfather flying and testing out different model airplanes that they would get in. She knew from a young age that she would be a pilot and was also able to combine her passion for photography into her work when she joined MissionGO.

Madi currently works on the MissionGO West Infrastructure team out in California inspecting powerlines and other utility poles for damage to reduce the risk of wildfires that often devastate that area of the United States. Madi explained that starting out as a VO gave her a front row seat into the life of a RPIC and offered incredible insight into daily work procedures, shot calls, checklists, etc. She got to see both good days and bad days from each side and believes it all was “well worth it to start out as a VO”.

To gain experience flying, Madi would spend extra hours outside of her work time, practicing with her own drone and logging her flight hours. After work and in her personal time, Madi would practice on her own and advocates “the more flight time you have, the better” – regardless of what company or industry it is for.

For aspiring pilots looking to get their Part 107 Certification, Madi recommends…

  1. Spend time with an aircraft (doing anything!) *with appropriate training and certifications.
  2. Use Part 107 Study Guides on the internet – take time to understand the book questions behind being an RPIC as well as the in-field practice.
  3. Keep a written version of your flight log – this will make uploading it for resumes, etc. so much easier.
  4. Do not give up. We are part of a generation where drones are becoming a regular piece of our lives. People get excited to see women as pilots, to talk about medical transport via UAS, and to see wildfires prevented with this innovation.


About MissionGO

MissionGO is setting a new standard for next-generation transportation logistics. By leveraging unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), MissionGO delivers improved reliability, reduced costs, and increased transparency to benefit multiple sectors, including healthcare and critical infrastructure. MissionGO is a portfolio company within JSP Ventures. Learn more at