“Dad, what’s going on?” I asked him for what appeared to be the umpteenth time, ecstatic.
“You will see for yourself,” he replied. We had been on the road for about twenty minutes, and I still didn’t know where we were going.
“Are you going to get me a car?” I asked him.
“You dream too much,” he laughed, “once you are eighteen and in college, you can get the car you want. Today, however, you are not getting anything from me. You are simply going to experience it.”
But I want to know what it is, hoping that I could get him to tell me what it was as the curiosity was almost killing me.
It was my birthday, and I had been woken up by my Dad who told me to dress up since we had an important place to be. Pleasantly surprised that it was one of his numerous surprises, I had gotten into the car with him. I had expected him to stop at several stores to get me my birthday gift, but he hadn’t yet. Two years ago, he had gotten me a video game and last year, and he had gotten me a drone that I had broken a few months after getting it.
He finally began to slow down in front of a building. He drove in and parked his car at the car park while my chest thudded loudly in my chest. I was anxious to see what the surprise was.
We got out of the car and got into the building. The interior was eerie looking with several colorful, bright lights on. We passed through a door and got into a very big office with a large inscription on the wall. I gasped as I realized what was going on. The inscription read: THE TEENAGE DRONE UAV RACE 2018.
I turned back to Dad, wide-eyed. He was smiling brightly down at me, and I felt a sudden surge of love and affection for him again.
“And I had no idea?” I said, more to myself than to him.
“Well, the surprise makes it more fun,” he shrugged.
I rushed over to him and hugged him, almost knocking him down.
“Easy son! Easy!” he laughed.
I could not believe that he had registered me up for the competition. When I had seen the advert on the TV a few weeks ago, I had casually mentioned that I would love to participate, but since Dad didn’t say anything, I thought he had forgotten all about it. What I hadn’t realized then was that the competition was going to hold on my birthday.
“Now, get yourself a seat and go kick some ass,” Dad thumped me on the back, and I smiled back at him.
In a lower voice, he said. “There’s no pressure. It’s not about the competition to me, it’s about the fabulous experience that you are going to have here,” he thumped me in the back and left. I knew that he was going to be in a larger hall where he, along with other audience would be able to see the race live. I looked at the other players and saw that they looked like they belonged to the same age group as me. After all, it was Teenage Drone Race.
There were five contestants, myself inclusive. I took my seat on a chair and waited for the time for us to commence. Once it was time, I started assembling the drone component that my Dad had brought for me. Inside the backpack was a racing drone, batteries, a battery charger, a controller, a video receiver and a few other miscellaneous items.
I checked the top speed of the drone that Dad had gotten for me and realized that it was 50mph. That was almost double the speed of the last drone that he had got me. The battery was 14.8v which was a good thing as the voltage of the battery helps the drone in going faster. The next thing I did was remove the GPS, OSDs, extra-long wires, heavy landing gear and other useless stuff that would make the drone heavier and hard to use.
By this time, everyone else had already begun to fly their drone. I, however, knew how important background check was. The next thing that I checked was the FPV camera. The camera was one of the essential components for drone racing, and it could tilt up to 80 degrees during flight.
Checking that everything was in good order, I got my goggles on and placed my hand on the controller. Being a new drone, the controller wasn’t as flexible as the one I once had. However, it would give me an edge when it comes to maintaining its balance in the air.
I kick started when my mates were already halfway done with the indoor race. But with all I’ve done, double-checking my gears, I knew I was ready. I powered my drone on with a considerable amount of speed at first, allowing my drone and I to get accustomed to the breeze of the room.
Luckily for me, I was able to overtake one of the drones that were trying to evade an obstacle. I was quick to catch up with another drone, but I was unable to overtake it until we got to the exit point.
I wasn’t sure if it was the sun rays or the fear of hitting one of the obstacles set to make our competition tougher. But the second drone slowed down allowing me to pass underneath it with ease.
In no time, it was just a drone that was keeping me from my goal. Knowing how fast I made my way to the second place, the other drone buckled up, using a series of maneuvers to get to the finish line before I could overtake it.
But in his haste to achieve this, the handler wasn’t considering the increasing wind blowing the loosely tied obstacles which could be why it flew close to one when trying to take a shortcut, making the obstacle to hit the drone, disorienting the drone for the split seconds that it took me to pass by the drone.
Like a dream come true, I hit the finish line. I took my time to land the drone properly; I wouldn’t want my champion to crash.
Yanking the goggle off of my face and turning to my Dad who was already rushing towards me, I yelled at the top of my voice:
“DAD! I MADE IT!!”