Texas had always been my favorite place to rev up my little drone. The evolution always amuses me the land has gone through, not very long ago, Texas was buzzing with cowboys racing their horses to the finish line for entertainment in the otherwise barren land. How the technology evolved and horses got replaced by drones, buzzing and streaming through the air swiftly is all an interesting chronology to read. But drone racing is a race of its kind that requires alertness, quick decision making, and high aerofoil control to succeed.
I have been drone racing for a long time now, in fact, the first time I ever got my hands on a drone I sped it up ferociously before crashing it into a tree. Luckily, there were others like me too, and proper racing drones and tracks were developed.
My friends like me are very passionate about drone racing. All of us gather at the race course park every evening and contest our “droning” skills. The person with the lowest wins at the end of the day pays for the drinks after the match.
I got the FPV kit
Today was the first time I would be flying using the FPV camera headgear. It was a clear evening of September, we were all gathered at the race course, and our drones were ready on their respective platforms, waiting anxiously for the whistle to launch. Experiencing the First Person View from the launch pads gave me goosebumps, it felt like as if I was an air racer pilot, waiting to take-off for the race.
And then the whistle blew! I was the first in sequence to launch, followed by other racers at the interval of one and a half minutes each. The course lap best time was one minute and thirty-two seconds, and the average lap time was one minute-fifty seconds.
As soon as I heard the whistle, I was off. The experience was thrilling; I had flown the course many times before and knew every detail of the obstacles, the turns, and all the twists. But viewing the race from a first-person perspective was an unimaginable experience. The speed, the thrill, and the extreme maneuvering had such a profound effect on me that my body physically started reacting to each of the movements.
Taking sharp turns felt like all my organs were being slumped towards one end. Ascending felt like I would soon black out if I didn’t control the rate of climb; and the dips felt like everything inside my body was moving upwards, it even gave me tummy tickles as if I was experiencing all the extreme G-forces in reality. And the best part was the close calls, the near shaves that I caught while passing through the checkpoints and obstacles, and it almost made me flinch as if I was about to crash in real.
The FPV technology is designed witch such depth that your mind falls into the trap of accepting it as virtual reality, and the complete body responds to the signals from the brain. That is what made the racing experience so real and much more enjoyable than flying it without the FPV technology.
I was moving fast, and had completed half the course in thirty-five seconds; I was on the path to breaking the lap record. But luck had other plans for me. As I made slalom through the “bushy tree turn,” I experienced my drone swiveled badly. I wanted to stop and check for the damage if any, but I quickly changed my decision once I looked at the stopwatch which showed I was well on track to marginally break the best time record for the lap. In the greed for glory, I continued with the lap.
But the control was not as smooth as it had been before, the drone was swivelling, and I had to try hard to keep it on track and not hit another obstacle. Once I had crossed the second last checkpoint, I eagerly looked at the stopwatch, and I was still on the road to equal the best time, if not break it. I shot forward my drone from the checkpoint and then with a small clank sound the drone skyrocketed. Shooting towards the sky nose up, I tried to control the motors, but the drone wouldn’t listen to me anymore.
I was feeling like the pilot of a plane who knew the plane was going to crash but couldn’t have done anything to save it or himself. The drone was shooting up, and then all of a sudden the rotor stopped. The moment of complete silence felt eerie. And then the drone plunged into free-fall swiveling and rotating as it came down.
Unfortunately, the only thing working on the drone was the FPV camera, and I felt dizzy experiencing the convoluted trajectory down before crashing into the ground, and everything went black. I realized I was so immersed in the crash that I was kneeling on the ground, panting heavily as if my body had physically experienced the gut twitching flight before the crash.
It was a sad moment for me, to have experienced my drone’s crash from a first-person view, but it gave me a lot of insight into my mistakes, and the next evening I was at the Texan racecourse again, with my brand new drone and state of the art FPV equipment.
I will surely write again once I beat the best time record.