Our Team

Our Team of Pilots, Photographers, Videographers and Project Managers are the best in the business.  Experts in Drone Photography and Videography, they can also draw on their huge amount of experience in a vast range of sectors before they joined PhantomFlightSchool.

Virgin Atlantic Pilot, we have one.  Air traffic control lead.  One of these too.  Videographers for Discovery, SKY, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and BT Sport.  Several.        Multi-Award winning photographers whose images have featured on the front covers of dozens of Lonely Planet Guide Books and Rough Guides. Got those too.  As well as a team of people who are World Class Project Managers and Drone Technical Experts.

Ask Us Anything about Drone Flying, Photography and Videography.  Between us, We Guarantee We Will Know the Answer.

Alan Proto

Alan founded PhantomFlightSchool in 2015.  Since then he has lived and breathed everything to do with the fascinating world of drones.  He has watched as the go-to drone has grown smaller, cheaper and more capable, until now his favourite drone is the DJI Mini 2.  Although at the same time he is proud of the fleet of cutting edge £15,000 DJI Matrice 210 and 300 drones PhantomFlightSchool use extensively for commercial drone operations.  He has flown drones in twelve different countries, at the top of mountains, at the foot of gorges, and from the back of boats large and small.

He strongly believes that with the right training and support, anyone can learn to fly a drone enjoyably, safely and effectively.

Where to fly?  What to shoot?  Alan created PhantomFlightSchool to help you answer these questions.

Join Alan in Chester and these Drone Lessons & Events

Stephen Knell
Chief Operating Officer

Stephen joined PhantomFlightSchool at the end of 2018, and is invaluable to the smooth running of our Operations.  He is one of the few people we know holds a UK PfCO, and a European GVC / Operational Authorisation.  It helps in this regard that he is fluent in Spanish, and divides his time between the UK and Spain.  So if you are looking for advice about taking your drone with you to Europe, Stephen can help.

Stephen is also an exceptional Project Manager, and is responsible for all of the large-scale and complex commercial drone operations we are involved with.  So if you have questions about commercial drone flying, call him first.

Join Stephen in Zaragoza and these Drone Lessons & Events

Emma Pastor
General Manager

Emma joined PhantomFlightSchool at the beginning of 2018, and is probably the best known member of our team.  When you call the office, it will be Emma’s friendly voice you are most likely to hear.  Having previously worked at Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic, her efficiency and planning skills are legendary.

Emma has a brilliant understanding of everything PhantomFlightSchool has to offer, from one hour lessons on Zoom to multi-day Masterclasses in Corfu and the Lake District, and everything in between.

If you are wondering where to start, start with a call to Emma on 01244 292 212.

Join Emma by phone at PFS Towers to discuss all our Lessons & Events

Simon Smith
Technical Head

Calm, methodical and analytical by nature, Simon relishes helping novice pilots get off to a safe and enjoyable start to their drone flying experience.

He also has an encyclopaedic knowledge of seemingly every aspect of every DJI drone ever produced.  When he leads our Masterclasses, I will often joke with clients that if they can find a technical question he doesn’t know the answer to, he’ll buy everyone a drink.  That hasn’t happened yet.

Simon led more than 40 PfCO Courses in the years 2016 – 2020, and takes care of Operations Manual updates and questions about liaison with the CAA for our PfCO Alumni.

He now leads our GVC Courses, on Zoom, and in the field, which run monthly.  Call us to find out why our GVC Course really is Radically Better.

Join Simon in Maidstone and these Drone Lessons & Events

Nick Hanson
Skye Pilot

Nick is a multi-award winning photographer, who has been working as a professional photographer, guide, and workshop leader on Skye for the past six years.  As such, he knows Skye like the back of his hand.  There is a saying in Skye “if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes”.  Nick has an uncanny knack for getting our Skye Drone Masterclass clients to the perfect spot at the perfect time to get the perfect light.

He is also exceptionally knowledgeable about Adobe Lightroom, used for editing photos, and Adobe Premier Pro, for editing video.  He has a gentle instruction technique.  Whether you are just getting to grips with post-production, or are looking to go even further into it, a 2hr+ Zoom session with Nick will always be invaluable.

Join Nick on Zoom and these Drone Lessons & Events

Andy Coulson
Edinburgh Pilot

Andy has been a photographer since he was six, and a light-aircraft pilot since he was 17. He obtained his PfCO during 2020 with PhantomFlightSchool. Being able to combine flying with photography, along with a love of travel, landscapes, and general tech gizmodery makes Andy very happy !
There are a number of locations Andy flies drones from east of Edinburgh. Beach and shoreline flying give wide open spaces and easy flying conditions – we are often the only people on the beach.

Join Andy in Edinburgh and these Drone Lessons & Events

James Cummings
Durham Pilot

In the last 5 years James has filmed over 50 of the most obscure locations imaginable across the world while working professionally for the Discovery Channel. Equally at home producing, filming or presenting for TV broadcast, his work still does not prevent his passions for surfing, sailing, kitesurfing and back country skiing. Needless to say, he has a few stories to tell!

James joined PhantomFlightSchool in 2021, as a pilot on a very large commercial project. We soon realised that with his wealth of experience, and his light-hearted approach to teaching, he could be a real asset to our Northern clients, and pressed him into action.

Join James in Northumberland and these Drone Lessons & Events

Paul Barker
Askrigg Pilot

Paul’s background is as a press photographer going back to the days when there wasn’t even any colour in the newspapers and digital cameras were a distant dream. He now works as a professional cameraman for Sky News and AFP, as well as being an independent film maker and adventure cameraman. Besides drone flying his big passions are caving and rock climbing which he also instructs and films. He is also the founder of the Yorkshire Dales Photography School which teaches all aspects of photography amidst the stunning scenery of the Yorkshire Dales. “From the ground the Dales is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. From the air it is beyond breathtaking, and it is a delight to share it with new drone pilots.”
With such a strong background in photography and video, Paul is well placed to assist pilots who want to take their aerial imaging to new levels, as well as novices taking to the skies for the first time.

Join Paul in Askrigg and these Drone Lessons & Events

Rob Lamont
Llandudno Pilot

Rob has been in the Information Technology industry for over 40 years. Having gained programming and systems experience with IBM, he then went into teaching at a North Wales college as a lecturer of Programming, Networking and Multimedia. He has always had a strong interest in photography and videography and recognised the potential of digital imaging in its early days.

The use of drones to capture aerial images was the next step, and Rob started flying a DJI Phantom at the end of 2015 as a hobbyist. He obtained his PfCO early in 2018 and started his own company producing aerial photography & videography in North Wales, before joining PhantomFlightSchool later that year. His editing skills in digital media have been gained over many years of lecturing and practical application. As a teacher at heart, he loves passing on his knowledge to all drone pilots, whatever their existing skill level and knowledge base.

Join Rob in Llandudno, Chester and these Drone Lessons & Events

Paul Draycott
Nantwich Pilot

Paul has a 37yr background in flying; both in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and commercially, initially as a Flight Engineer (FE) and then as a Pilot. He began his flying career on the Hercules C130 and then became a training engineer on the AWACS B707 aircraft. He made the move to commercial flying by joining Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd as a FE on the B747 Classic aircraft, whilst also training as a pilot. Initially piloting the Airbus A320, he’s since flown the A321, the A330 and the A340.

And now… he loves flying Drones. He’s also keen to help others learn how to fly them, using the unique PhantomFlightSchool flying techniques, which are closely allied to the commercial airline world and include standard operating procedures and aircraft checklists, and put flight safety first. Paul is now very happy to be able to continue that tradition of professionalism and help others to become safe and competent drone pilots.

Join Paul in Nantwich, Chester or Macclesfield, and these Drone Lessons & Events

Tony Jackson
Maidenhead Pilot

Tony moved into the world of drones when he retired after 36 years as an Air Traffic Controller and Flight Operations officer in the Royal Air Force. He had always been a keen photographer and was looking for new adventures where he could combine his aviation skills and knowledge with his passion for photography.

Tony obtained his PfCO in 2015, and has been teaching for PhantomFlightSchool since 2018. In that time he has flown throughout the UK, Northern Spain, Malta and Norway.

His knowledge of aviation and airport operations has allowed him to fly at some demanding locations and is one of the few drone pilots to have flown a drone legally at both Heathrow Airport a Gatwick Airport.

Join Tony in Watford, Maidenhead or Winchester, and these Drone Lessons & Events

Alan Copson
Masterclass Leader

Alan is a professional multi-award winning travel photographer with 25 years’ experience, circling the globe in pursuit of the perfect image. While he has loved photography since being allowed to use his father’s camera on childhood holidays, it was while travelling around Europe as a teenager he was inspired to follow a career in travel photography.

Alan has travelled to more than 50 countries taking photos, and has more front cover images on guidebooks including Lonely Planet and Rough Guides than anyone we know.

Always in search of that elusive new angle, Alan was drawn to drone photography, getting his PfCO with PhantomFlightSchool in 2018. Aerial photography is now part of most of his photo-shoots.  Today, Alan is keen to share his experience as he co-hosts Phantom Flight School Masterclasses and online seminars.

Join Alan on Zoom and these Masterclasses & Events

David Stewart
Bristol Pilot

David has always had a passion for photography and lighting, studying Theatre Production and Design and simultaneously learning Black & White photography using the college’s enormous dark room.

Since then he has worked in stage lighting around the world, living in Italy and India, touring with Paul McCartney, and Oasis. David was also part of the Montruex Jazz Festival Broadcast team for 5 years, and the Closing Olympic Games in Barcelona 1992. For the past 14 years he has been working as business development for lighting manufacturers utilising his photography and filming skills to capture spectacular lighting on stage.

Alongside, David loves his gadgets and when he saw his first drone he was fascinated with the possible application in both entertainment and photography. David gained his PfCO in 2016, and joined the PhantomFlightSchool team, teaching in Bristol at weekends, in 2018.

Join David in Bristol and these Drone Lessons & Events

George Blonsky
Masterclass Leader

George is a truly wonderful human being.  One of those people who exudes good karma at all times.

He has been a professional photographer his whole adult life.  Originally in Photo Journalism, for the Times, and the Sunday Times, where he was the retained photographer for the Colour Supplement “Life in the Day Of” back page feature for many years.  More recently he has been an Official Photographer at the Paralympics and Winter Paralympics, with his images of elite athletes featuring on billboards around the World.

Half Greek, he currently resides on a hilltop outside Athens.  We are delighted to have been chosen by George as his preferred PfCO provider in 2018.  We are proud to have him as our Masterclass Leader in Greece, and on Zoom, advising clients on photo and video composition and post-production.

Join George on Zoom and these Drone Masterclasses & Events

Stewart Oxley
Colchester Pilot

Stewart is a professional photographer and videographer, undertaking a wide-range of commercial photography work, including: Weddings and Special Celebrations; Commercial and Residential real estate; and work with the RNLI, for whom he has volunteered for many years.  He always takes his drone with him when he is working.

Stewart secured his PfCO with PhantomFlightSchool in 2018, and joined the team that delivers our PfCO, and now, GVC Courses.  Over the course of 2020 and 2021, Stewart flew 500 hours for us on a DJI Matrice 210 at locations across the South East for a large commercial client.

He has an outstanding sense of humour, and a real joie de vivre about him.  You are sure to enjoy an In Person One to One with him, as well as learning a ton of new stuff.

Join Stewart in Colchester and these Drone Lessons & Events
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