Ash-scattering drone an Aussie first
FAMILIES are spending $500 to farewell their loved ones with an ash-scattering ceremony in the sky.
Northern NSW man Mark Fogarty is the first Australian to be licensed to spread ashes with a large drone that can carry up to 25kg.
Mr Fogarty said the idea came to him when his own father died.
"Dad had always liked fishing," he said. "I wanted to put him out in the ocean, but there weren't a lot of options.
"Often when ashes are scattered on the shoreline the wind can play a big factor, blowing them back on the people there and away from where they're meant to go.
"Using drone technology ashes can be scattered as loved ones sit and take in the important moment."
Mr Fogarty, who started Blue Horizon Memorials in December, said it took him about 12 months to get his Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) licence.
"It was a long process," he said. "The drone is quite large and can carry up to 25kg - the technology available to us now is incredible.
"The drone costs between $15,000 and $20,000 with the set-up we have for it, but we have tried to keep the cost of our service reasonable, we want to make it easy for people to farewell their loved one with dignity."
Sara Williams' family had her father-in-law's ashes spread over his Northern NSW property in late December.
"We had never heard of it before, but were keen to give it a go after hearing of bad experiences when trying to scatter ashes yourself," she said.
"It was a lovely, special moment, we all sat together and watched.
"We asked for wildflower seeds to be scattered with the ashes, so in spring there will be another reminder of him on the property."
The scattering of ashes can be filmed for a keepsake and coloured powder or petals can be used.
Mr Fogarty said biodegradable materials were used to ensure no harm to the environment.
He said restrictions ruled out many Gold Coast beaches, but the coastline from Tweed Heads to Ballina was not regulated.
"We can spread ashes at Paradise Point or at Tallebudgera, but at the moment that is it on the Gold Coast," he said.
"I was originally planning to use my CASA licensing to work in agriculture, spraying crops with a drone, but I have found real satisfaction in doing this work.
"It is unique and some might say strange, but we are getting a lot of positive feedback."