The ANDAIR Team

Kate McWatters
Managing Director / Remote Pilot - Newcastle, NSW

Kate is enjoying a remarkable 25 year career in the Australian Defence Force, having spent some 24 of those years directly involved in Military Aviation and the last 16 years with Military Air Traffic Control (ATC).

Kate's achievements include time spent as an Army Aviation Groundcrewmen and RAAF Air Traffic Controller. Kate's highlights include four operational deployments, working with CH-47Ds in PNG and UH-1Hs in Bougainville and the IAI Heron RPA, a RAAF Good Show Award and ATC postings to Townsville, Darwin, Amberley, Pearce & Williamtown.  Kate has now diversified into Project Management, working on future ATM Systems.

Kate has been appointed the Unit Aviation Safety Officer (UASO) at Darwin, Amberley and Pearce. Kate's real passion is her work as the General Aviation (GA) Liaison Officer at Townsville, Amberley and Pearce.

Kate has also spent most of her private life involved with General Aviation, as a Private Pilot, earning her Private Pilot's License in Nov 2000 and achieving 430hrs of private flying. Since 2004 Kate has blended her RAAF ATC skills and GA Piloting skills to serve the GA Industry by providing safety and education training to thousands of pilots across Queensland and the Northern Territory. 

 

Along the way Kate has also worked on a casual basis for CareFlight NT as an Operations Support Officer and Logistics Coordination Manager and for AAG Aviation Safety as a Works Safety Officer (WSO).  These casual positions have ensured Kate has a well rounded understanding of commercial operations including aircraft tasking, aircrew management, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), support vehicle logistics, industrial Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), airfield construction safety and business management functions. Kate's personal aircraft are the DJI Inspire 1 and Phantom 4 Pro.

Dean Witherall
Operations Manager / Remote Pilot - Brisbane, Qld

Dean has had a keen aviation interest since early school years, and obtained his private Pilot’s licence in 1982. He is passionate about radio controlled models of all kinds and this kindled his interest in drone technology and capability.

Dean was employed for 34 years as an Air Traffic Services Officer, working at Sydney Air Traffic Services Centre (ATSC), Bankstown, Dubbo Flight Service, and Brisbane ATSC.

Some of the roles Dean has performed are as a Flight Service Officer, NOTAM and Briefing Officer and procedures specialist for both, ATS software development and for the last 15 years as an ATC Safety Investigator and Risk Specialist, with a period as the ATC Safety Manager for the Brisbane Flight Information Region. ​

 

The past 5 years he was a Senior Safety System Specialist and was primarily involved with developing an ATC risk assessment model and tools, then conducting Operational Risk Assessments for ATC at all Towers (civil) and ATSCs around the country.

Dean brings extensive aviation knowledge and training capability, skill with regulatory documentation and has significant hands on skill with safety and risk assessments in aviation related activities. Dean's personal aircraft is the DJI Phantom 4 Pro.

Ben Blades 
Remote Pilot - Toowoomba, Qld

Ben is a very talented young man at only 22 years of age, he is a qualified Aircraft Mechanical Engineer (AME), a Private Pilot and a Drone Pilot. Ben is currently employed as a Senior Field Technician and AME with Range Avionics, Toowoomba.

Ben’s professional avionics technical skills will become highly desirable in the UAV industry, as computer systems, GPS and communications links form the core of the a rapid paced changes in UAV technologies.

Ben has also devoted his private life to GA flying, achieving some 360hrs of flying so far and is currently engaged in achieving his twin-engine rating and command instrument rating.

 

Ben is also one step ahead, with a UAV Controllers Certificate, enabling him to pilot UAVs for commercial gain. Ben has a very well rounded basis to become the ANDAIR 'Chief Engineer' and his knowledge and skills at a youthful age will no doubt stand him in great stead for a future in the UAV industry. Ben's personal aircraft is the DJI Phantom 3 Pro.

Aaron Willis
Remote Pilot - Berri, SA

Aaron is new to the team but brings with him a wealth of experience from the drone industry, having spent the last year working in and around Adelaide as a senior drone pilot. 

 

Aaron is also a former ADF member having served in the Australian Army as a storeman and the RAAF as a Communications Information System Controller.

Some of Aaron's RAAF roles and responsibilities included; providing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) support to deployed forces, manage and operate ICT systems including Local Area Networks (LANs) and Wide Area Networks (WANs), web publishing and database management, field communications and ground to air communications networks.

Aaron's drone piloting experiences include special asset inspection skills, Orthomosaic and NDVI mapping and aerial photography and filming. Aaron also has hands-on skills with survey systems, enabling all of the ANDAIR team to benefit from this.

 

Aaron will be ANDAIR's first outlying drone pilot, being based in Berri, South Australia. Aaron's personal aircraft is the DJI Phantom 3 Pro.

Paul Ritchie
NZ Manager / Remote Pilot - Auckland, NZ

Paul has always had a passionate interest in aviation. Paul started learning to fly at the age of 15 and gained his pilots license at age 16 and Commercial Pilots license at age 19! 

 

Paul has had a strong interest in the radio controlled hobby, having flown all types of fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and jets. Paul builds all his own models and his expert building skills have also seen him building custom jet models for others. 

Paul has being a Commercial and Airline Transport Pilot in both Australia and New Zealand. 

Paul has flown various types of aircraft in his professional career, including BE58, C310 and C402 in Mount Isa and SW4 Metro in Townsville. Paul started his jet career with the Qantas group based in Auckland, New Zealand. Paul has flown Boeing 737-300, 400 and 800 with Qantas, where he is now employed as a Captain.

Paul's love of aviation, RC Modelling and technology has led him into the world of drones. Paul's professional experiences in the commercial and airline transport industry, with nearly 11,000hrs total and 4,000hrs on the Boeing 737 enables the ANDAIR team to further it's depth of professional industry knowledge. Paul's personal aircraft is the DJI Phantom 4 Pro.

Chris Loadsman
Chief Remote Pilot - Sale, Vic

Chris is a RAAF Air Traffic Controller. His responsibilities have included Senior Training Officer, Operations Commander, Licensing Authority of Approach, Approach Supervisor, Approach Training Officer and UASO at Townsville and Amberley.

Chris became an ATC Instructor in 2017 further honing his skills. Chris will be going on to become an ATC Operations Commander in 2019. 

Chris joined the RAAF through the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and through his 10 years of experience as a controller he has become an expert on Human Factors in Aviation, Aviation Risk Management (AVRM) and Crew Resource Management (CRM).

 

Chris began learning to fly at the tender age of 16 with the Australian Airforce Cadets (AAFC) and earnt his Private Pilots License (PPL) during his time at ADFA, accruing 150hrs so far.

 

Chris’s other interests include Computer Information Systems and Photography, these have already played a key role in ANDAIR’s formation, using Chris’s skills and computer systems to produce 3D point clouds for demonstrations.

Chris has been instrumental in ANDAIR's Safety and Risk Management processes. Chris has also lead our team in delivering one day courses to farmers and hobbyists at our Wyreema training location. Chris will now take on the role as Chief Remote Pilot, advancing ANDAIR into a new future. Chris's personal aircraft is the DJI Phantom 4.

Anthony McWatters
Governance Adviser - Haden, Qld

Anthony has been an aerospace engineer since 1980. During 40 years in the Australian Army he served as a soldier technician and engineering officer in the leadership and management of maintenance and logistic support to operational technical equipment of the defence forces of Australia, UK and PNG. 

 

His experience is dominated by helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and unmanned aerial systems.   He was a qualified LAME in Australia and PNG in the 1980-90s.

From a trade foundation as an electronics technician (radio) he developed as a leader of technical support in avionics and airframe/engine practice in the field, on the hangar floor, in the design house and with OEMs and contractors.

 

Anthony has been a senior aerospace engineer executive in the Army since 1997 and still serves in the ADF on a part time basis in technical trade and organisational development projects. Anthony is a chartered member of the Institution of Engineers Australia.

Anthony's great passion now is the use of drone technology in the agriculture sector. Owning his own cattle property, Anthony and his son Chris are passionate about using the latest technologies to improve farm efficiency, pasture management and then sharing that experience and know how with others. Anthony's personal aircraft is the DJI Phantom 3 Advanced.

David McWatters
SAR/EMS Consultant / Remote Pilot, El Paso TX

David first started as a volunteer Firefighter in the tiny Texas town of Fort Davis in 2001 and he's been employed as a Firefighter and Paramedic ever since. 

David became a full time professional Firefighter with the El Paso Fire Department in 2006. After several years with EPFD he was offered a job as a Regional Fire Coordinator with the Texas Forest Service (TFS). David's are of responsibility covered some 240,000sq km. David's responsibilities included coordinating local, state and national firefighting resources including personnel, equipment and aircraft assets to wildland fires.

David returned to the EPFD in 2010 as a city Firefighter and soon afterwards qualified as a Paramedic with EPFD. After a probationary period David was assigned to Rescue 22 (Ambulance). With David's comprehensive experiences, he was soon qualified and operating on the Combined Search and Rescue (COMSAR) Team. In 2015, David also qualified onto the EPFD Water Rescue Team and was deployed as part of the Texas Task Force 1 for Hurricane Harvey.  Amongst all this action, David finds time to volunteer as a National Ski Patrol Medic in New Mexico.

 

In 2018 EPFD branched into the world of drones, operating the DJI Matrice M210 with the FLIR XT Thermal camera and X4S camera. David is slated to train onto this system in mid 2018. David brings extensive experience to the ANDAIR team and we look forward to his inputs on our operations and into our RnD projects.

Paul Cooper 
Training Coordinator - Toowoomba, Qld

Paul comes to ANDAIR with a diverse background from the Australian Army and Oil and Gas sector. Paul joined the Australian Army as an infantryman in 1990 and transferred to the Army Aviation Corps in 1996. 

Paul has excelled in the Army Aviation environment, achieving the rank of Warrant Officer Class Two and becoming the Squadron Sergeant Major (SSM) on two occasions. 

Paul's roles in Army Aviation have included; Project Team Member; working with Boeing, Eurocopter and Australian Airbus Group. Training and Compliance Officer; assisting with monitoring of RTO standards, program development and Compliance systems in line with ASQA requirements and accreditation.

Trainer and Assessor Supervisor; ensuring the successful delivery of nationally endorsed training packages and customised industry courses and Aircraft Support Manager; managing a distinct team consisting of Aviation Ground Crew, ensuring they were equipped with the knowledge and resources required to execute their daily tasks.

 

Paul has also spent some time in the Oil and Gas industry, working with clients such as SANTOS, QGC and Origin Energy.  These roles were field-based working in remote locations within an oil rig management team providing Health, Safety and Environmental advice.

Aaron Donaldson
Remote Pilot - Geelong, Vic

From a childhood obsession with anything that would fly, drive, ride or float, Aaron has always been building and developing remote control equipment. After joining Air Cadets at 14, Aaron went on to start his pilot’s licence at 16, also taking up skydiving, and gliding. Converting over to Ultralights at 19, he then built two homebuilt Ultralight aircraft with his Dad Ian, which they flew for many years.

 

Joining with Simeon O'Neill to tackle the UAV Outback Challenge in 2008, whilst no-one completed the mission that year, their two man team outscored all the other teams, to take home the highest award for achievement.

Whilst having 24 years in the Insurance Industry, running his own insurance broking business for the last 10 years, Aaron has also been working in the TV industry since 2009. He started out in the team that installed, managed and operated the on-board cameras at the V8 Supercars and that then developed into other live TV and sporting event such as the T-20 big Bash, AFL, NRL, NBL, Airshows in New Zealand, The UCI Tour Down Under Cycling race, World Triathlon events and Marathons.

 

Aaron has had extensive drone experience, producing aerial video images for several documentaries and television shows, conducting training courses for the Australian Army, speaking at insurance conferences and seminars on Drones and Insurance and also produced live drone footage for the Ch7 Sunrise program. Aaron's personal aircraft are the DJI Inspire 2 and Mavic Pro.

Research & Development Team
Robert Knox
R&D Team Leader - Nowra, NSW

Robert joined the Australian Army in 1986 as an Infrantryman but his love of the noise and fast paced action of the helicopters that buzzed the sky above him, soon caught his attention. In 1993 Rob transferred to the Australian Army Aviation Corops (AAAvn) to become a Loadmaster. With a highly successful career in AAAvn and nearly 4,000hrs as a Helicopter Loadmaster, Rob became interested in RC Scale Aircraft.

Rob's new found skills became an obsession and before too long he had formed his own small airforce of RC aircraft, some 20+ models in the workshop! His attention to details of the history of each type of aircraft and his pride in the ADF, have earnt Rob's aircraft extra special attention, often photographed and presented alongside their real siblings for PR and other events.

Owning a small airforce hasn't come without some harsh lessons learnt! Whilst disappoint is a human outcome, nearly every model is sent back to the workshop, parts scavenged and re-tested and aircraft re-built to airwowrthy condition to grace the skies once more. Rob's passion for all things aviaiton, attention to details, model building skills and piloting skills are a perfect fit for our ANDAIR R&D Team.

William Stones
Engine and Airframe Designer - Brisbane, Qld

William R Stones, AKA “Will”, has 25 years experience in the aviation industry with 22 years active duty in the United States Air Force. Specifically, 12 years experience as an Avionics Sensors Technician where he worked on night vision equipment, radar, Infrared and other guidance systems and all of the associated support equipment.

Will has 12 years experience in meteorology including special operations weather support, NASA space shuttle missions and synoptic scale weather forecasting and instruction.

 

Will also has two years experience as a mobile electronics installer, and over three years of experience working in hobby shops. Will has been involved with RC cars and planes since 1984, and has been building scale models since 1977.

 

Will has worked for CareFlight as an Aviation Coordinator and now works for the Bureau of Meteorology at Oakey Army Aviation Centre where he does the weather briefings, writes forecasts and takes observations.

Will's unique and diverse career, specialising in Avionics, Weather and RC modelling are very much welcomed into the ANDAIR Team. Will's design expertise as already guided ANDAIR in a fantastic direction.

Jon Croucher
Electronics Designer - Melbourne, Vic

Jon Croucher has 36 years of working experience in a range of industries. Jon has worked as a Technical Assistant in a Materials Laboratory, Health Physics Surveyor in HIFAR at Lucas Heights, Project & Test Engineer for Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company, Sign Fabricator, Automotive Electrician, Site Manager and Supervisor for numerous Railway Level Crossing projects, Construction Manager and as a CNC Operator.

Jon has also spent time in the Army Reserves as a singaller based in Sydney.

Jon's real passion is electronics design and building of RC aircraft, helicopters and drones. Jon has built from scratch, developed and test flown numerous quad copter drones and has his own 3D printer and CNC machine to design and build his own components. 

Jon has an excellent knowledge of programming with C++ however is now determined to learn all the latest in the drone world of software programming and is learning all about Python and MAVLink Proxy.

Jon resides in Melbourne, Victoria and is currently actively researching and developing a custom build Hex copter test aircraft that will carry a range of specialised sensors for one of ANDAIR's projects.

James Russell
3D Printing Designer - Beerwah, Qld

James is a qualified mechanical engineer by trade and has worked for 15 years in the Automotive engineering field, he has experience in running CNC Lathes and milling machines and running of an engineering business. 

 

James then moved onto the Injection moulding industry where he learned a complete new skill set, this involved mould design, 3D CAD design, 3D printing and High speed assembly machines in which he received training in Switzerland.

James has a passion for 3D printing and has been using this technology for 8 years, purchasing one of the first ever Makerbot 3D printers. James has since progressed significantly and now operates two 3D printers, including the first WASP 4070 Delta Printer in Australia.

James also has experience with RC aircraft design and building and also flying Aerobatic 3D Airplanes and Gliders. James has always had a passion for aircraft since a very young age.

 

James's skills in the CAD industry, 3D printing expertise and RC Aircraft experiences will ensure his contributions to the ANDAIR R&D are well aimed. 

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