Mark is a qualified drone pilot, instructor and technician at the Ripper Group. He was the pilot in charge of the world’s first drone rescue in surf at Lennox Head in January 2018.
Mark has worked in the drone industry for 4 years professionally and built and flown his own UAVs for over 10 years. He has worked in many areas of the industry including photogrammetry, lidar mapping, training and technical services. Before coming to the Ripper Group, Mark was the Chief Pilot for the Early Warning Network.
Mike was raised in Woolgoolga on the north coast of NSW and schooled at Coffs Harbour. He served nine years as an engineer in the RAAF. He went on to spend the next ten years teaching scuba diving in Cairns, Whitsundays, Fiji and Hawaii and as a co-owner of a dive operation in Cairns, running underwater photography courses from a 60-foot charter boat.
He returned to aviation in 1992, obtaining his helicopter licence, and spent 25 years operating helicopters in Police, Air Ambulance, Search and Rescue, Marine pilot transfers, target recovery and oil and gas operations, amassing an enormous 6000 hours flying time. He has flown in Queensland, Western Australia, the Middle East, Solomon Islands, and spent ten years flying in the UK.
Mike began building and flying remote piloted aircraft in 2016 while based in Gladstone on an Air Ambulance contract and quickly progressed into teaching the RePL licence. He joined the Ripper Group as full-time Lead Instructor in September 2018 and brings a wealth of training and operational experience to the team.
Michael is a UAV pilot with the Little Ripper Lifesaver company where he flies the latest in drone technology. He also trains and shares his passion for flying drones with new students all over Australia.
Before working for the Ripper Group, Michael spent over 20 years in the fitness industry training, lecturing and managing in places like The Biggest Loser Retreat, Golden Door Health Retreat and Fitness First, just to name a few.
Michael made an industry leap to join the Ripper Group to pursue his interest in flying drones and has enjoyed travelling to places around Australia and the world. Working with Surf Lifesaving, Michael was fortunate enough to witness the world’s first surf drone rescue in Lennox Head using the Westpac Little Ripper rescue drone.
Dragan first joined the Ripper Group as a contractor for 18 months and is now part of the full-time team. He is a drone pilot/engineer with over 10 years’ experience in UAV/drone design, engineering and construction. Dragan entered into UAV design before they were commercially available when he saw the opportunity for their use in aerial photography where manned helicopters were impractical and expensive.
Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Dragan immigrated to Australia with his parents and sister in 1977 when he was 8 years old. He currently resides in Shellharbour on the South Coast of NSW and stays in Southport while working with the Ripper Group. In his spare time Dragan flies multi-rotors and fixed wing aircraft and rides his electric skateboard.