Drone to me was a toy; an object of fun and I never had the thought it was ever used for racing until a neighbor challenged me. Because of my “never say die” attitude and my love for fun-filled competition and adventures, I accepted the challenge without having any knowledge about what I put myself into.
Although we were planning to have our form of competition and catch fun as much as we can, drone racing in the big world stage is bigger than that. According to the news on the internet, drone racing all started in Australia with a league of amateur drone pilots, but the racing has gone on to become a big thing today.
There are several drone racing competitions around the world, from the United States to the United Kingdom and others. It is not a popular competition currently as only a few people know about it as many people (of which I belonged), see drones as a toy or just another object of play. Research, however, shows it’s going to be a popular sporting event throughout the globe in the coming years.
I am a man of adventure, and I love to bring out the best in every situation I found myself. My adventurous life has gotten me involved in many activities including sports, races, and sometimes very dangerous games. From my childhood days, I was a water person who enjoyed anything involving water, from water cruising to wakeboarding to skiing which happens to be my favorite.
I’ve gone for many races and fun catching activities involving one or two of the stated water sports, earning recognized certificates and experience on many occasions. The latest of the water sport I was involved in was the water polo or let’s say pool polo. It’s somehow slow for a sport while you are watching, but it is an energy-sapping game when you are involved; imagine you’ll have to swim to cover many distances in the space of few seconds repeatedly? That’s what it felt like.
Apart from the water sports, I’ve gone mountain climbing, snow racing, bike racing including mountain biking, car racing and any other racing you can talk about. I’m a man of competition, in a fun way though, and I always love to take on challenges even if I am a novice in the subject matter. However, with all the races I was involved in, the only one left for me as at then was Drone racing.
After accepting the challenge, I picked up my quadcopter, dusted it, and started practicing with it. The goal of the competition we had was to land the drone on a particular spot, having moved from the same spot at the same time, and whoever got there first, wins the competition. The second of the competition was to race individually from a designated spot while passing over some specific spots and going through some specific rings unperturbed.
Knowing what was expected of the competition, I used some specific spots to rehearse while I timed myself. The record of my practice shows great improvement in timing per day while the accuracy and precision in going over and through some designated places were close to perfection. Throughout my practice session, I had my cousin acting as my coach and director, even though he was going to co-judge the said competition.
The Day of Drone Race
All the preparations were ready and the day of the competition eventually came. It incidentally falls on a family vacation, and it was in the form of a picnic. Although I was surprised to see the crowd that graced the occasion because I had thought it was going to be an affair of just the four of us; that is the challenger, his brother (co-judge with my cousin), my cousin, and I. I was particularly not mentally prepared to race in front of such crowd, but I was relieved to see my family members present their also. My uncle was particularly supportive in a manner I never expected. We all (the four of us) flew our drones around the place just for the fun of it, in a way that looked as though we were giving our audience awareness about the race.
We attached colorful ribbons and balloons to the drones as we fly them together in military style. It was a colorful sight to behold, and I can categorically say it was arguably the best time of my drone flying experience.
After the whole “showing off,” it was time to have the competition, and we were ready to get it started. I was however surprised to see my challenger change his drone to another type while having a ‘first-person view’ goggles on. “What is that?” I protested to my cousin who replied: “I’ve got no idea man.” I felt it’s just another way for the guy to look up into the sky very well (I thought he might be having problem concentrating on stuff from the sky for a long time).
We embarked on the first part of the competition where we started at a spot at the same time and must land at a designated spot. It all started well with our speed looking almost the same until we started passing through rings and going over designated areas. He started moving in a way that surpassed my skill even though he wasn’t looking up to the drone itself.
I was trying to be accurate with my movement, but it was obviously affecting my speed. It came to a time I almost could not see the drone very well due to longtime focus. In addition, I started feeling neck pain because of the way I tilted my neck up throughout the race. I lost the race and was wondering why I couldn’t meet up with him.
“It’s that goggle he’s using,” I thought to myself, and I told my brother to get me a goggle of similar shape before we’ll run the same race the second time, but my uncle countered the suggestion. “What you are lacking is not that kind of goggle son; you are using the wrong type of drone for the race,” he said.
“He’s having an advantage over you because he’s using a race drone with ‘first-person view’ goggle that allows him to see what the drone can see without looking up, and therefore can maneuver faster than you as if he is playing computer games” he concluded. “Then the game is over” I concluded.
“Not necessarily son,” he said as he led me to a place and showed me a brand new coupled racing drone. He gave me the goggle and gave me a quick tutorial about how to use it. I was happy to have it, and it was then I see the reason why I could not move the way my challenger was moving. I quickly had a rehearsal flight before we embarked on the second competition. The race becomes more interesting afterward as I now have a drone that can really compete.
Drone racing is an interesting competition whether you are doing it for fun or in a real competition. Make sure you’ve got yourself “a racing drone” either by building it up or by buying already coupled one. Pay great attention to details while rehearsing and while the raise is on, and try to avoid colliding with other drones to avoid disqualification and damages to drones and humans alike.
Avoid having drone race in a public area or over an area where people are gathered because the drones could cause injury if it falls on a person, due to its weight and the speed aided by gravity in case of crashes. To cap it up, always have fun and remember it’s just a game.