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8-10 December 2020
UNSW Media Futures Hub

David Beesley

Flying Underground: an ethnographic view of the Melbourne personal drone scene, 2014

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Flying Underground I: Bradmill

Flying Underground II: Batcave

Flying Underground III: Cage

Flying Underground will screen on Thursday 10th December at 11am (AEDT) as part of the Drone Methods Panel

Today personal drones, also termed as remotely piloted aircraft systems under two kilograms gross weight, are a rapidly maturing technology that can be considered ‘mainstream’, but, as recently as five years ago, such technologies were deemed nascent, as was the regulatory environment governing conditions of use, hence creating an underground subculture. This presentation, using case study, video documentary and reflections on personal practice, undertakes an auto-ethnographic examination of the Melbourne personal drone scene in 2014 and investigates the challenges faced by the then fledgling and emerging drone communities that were using personal drones for recreational purposes. ‘Recreational purposes’ is a term used by CASA, Australia’s civil aviation safety and regulatory authority, that encompasses remotely piloted aircraft usage that is not deemed military or commercial. In the civilian realm this encompasses sport, recreation, and creative applications where flying is increasingly of secondary concern.


David Beesley is a media professional, documentary film maker, and technical services manager with the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. He is presently completing his PhD ‘Head in the Clouds: documenting the rise of drone culture’, which is a project-based longitudinal ethnographic documentary looking at the significance of personal drone cultures in Melbourne, Australia.


an interdisciplinary


Drone Cultures
Virtual Symposium
8 - 10 December 2020
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