Have you recently heard of drone racing and wondered exactly what it is?

You are not alone, drone racing is a relatively new sport.

Most people have seen drones flying around, but it is only in recent years that they have been put to use in a racing scenario. The idea of flying UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) from the first-person view (FPV) was founded by a drone pilot Scot Refsland. In 2014 he organized the very first world championship for FPV drone racing, originally called Rotor Sports now Drone Sports Association.

How is Drone Racing Done?

In drone racing, multirotor helicopters are flown from the first-person view (FPV). This is where a camera films in front of the quadcopter and transmits the video to goggles worn by the pilot. What makes this an extreme sport is that the pilots are only able to see what is filmed by their camera when they fly in first-person view. With drones being almost invisible in the sky, it can be difficult for spectators to follow the race.

The exciting part of drone racing is how unpredictable it can be. Since the pilots can’t really see their surroundings or where they are going, they rely on a spotter and the video feed from the drone. The spotter usually follows alongside in an automobile and tells the pilot about any obstacles, which direction to go, and warns him if the other racers crash.

With races being held all over the world the sport is growing rapidly. What once started out as a small hobby has now turned into an exciting new sport that combines the use of technology with speed and skill.

How do I train to be a drone racing pilot?

While Drone racing is challenging, the truth is it doesn’t require a ton of training to get started. One of the most important things you can do before getting started is to pick out a drone that fits your needs. You will need a quadcopter that can handle both crashes and bad weather, as well as one with a camera that offers a first-person view. There are many types of drones out there, so it is important to do your research before deciding on the best one for you. Once you have purchased your drone, then it’s simply about getting used to flying! You can either watch tutorials online or find friends who race and ask them how they learned. What matters most is that you’re having fun!

What Skills Do I Need?

When it comes to drone racing, you don’t need any special skills other than a basic understanding of how your multirotor helicopter flies. What will make you a good pilot is practice and knowing the capabilities of your drone. What makes flying a drone hard at first is that there are so many things to think about, from the throttle and pitch to yaw and elevation. What you will need to get used to is having a camera in front of your face that can lead you into crashing if you’re not careful.

The fastest way to learn how to fly drones is through trial and error; however, we suggest watching online tutorials first. What pilots love about drone racing is the ability to pick up new tricks and tips, so be sure to watch all you can online before you get started. Not only will it help prevent crashes, but it will also allow you to go in with a better strategy and race plan in mind at your first event.

Finally, we want to mention that there are some courses you can take that will give you a huge advantage when it comes to drone racing. The more practice and training you get, the faster your skills will develop! What we recommend is taking an acrobatic pilot course (if they’re offered in your area) or an online hobbyist course. What this type of knowledge does is teach you the basics of aerodynamics and drone racing, as well as how to take a quadcopter apart and maintain it. What makes this great is learning how to quickly put your drone back together so you can get back to flying in case of a crash. What we love about these courses is that they allow for hands-on training with experts, as well as professional advice on purchasing your first drone. What we suggest is taking these courses before buying anything to get an idea of what to look for!

How Do I Get Into Drone Racing?

Drone racing is becoming one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, so you’re definitely not alone if you’re interested in getting started. What you will need to get started racing are goggles that can give you a first-person view of the quadcopter’s camera while it is in flight. What this will do is put you right in the pilot’s seat, giving you an idea of exactly what the pilot sees while flying your drone. What is great about racing with FPV goggles is that it will give you a massive adrenaline rush, which will help you become a better pilot. What we love about starting drone racing is the fact that it costs less than most other hobbies. What sets this hobby aside from others is that you can use what you already have, rather than spend thousands of dollars on a plane or car. What you will need to get started is a decent-sized field with enough space for your drone, as well as an empty garage or warehouse where you can race at night (when it’s legal). What makes the learning curve for this hobby one of the smallest around is how accessible it is; anyone with access to a computer can purchase a drone and watch tutorials online. What also makes drone racing so accessible is that there are some great beginner drones out on the market that come ready to fly right away, making it possible for new pilots to get into this sport quickly.

What Makes Drone Racing Exciting?

What makes drone racing exciting is the fact that you can either race or freestyle. What this means is that, depending on the event and rules, you will either be able to fly around a pre-defined course and complete laps as fast as possible (racing) or fly your drone around and through obstacles (freestyling).

How Fast Do Racing Drones Fly?

Racing drones can fly anywhere from 35 to 100 mph. The top-done speed record is 179.78 mph! What makes this sport even more interesting is that these racers are essentially flying their drones through physical gates or around poles at speeds up to 100 mph!

Do I need a Drone Pilot License to Race?

Here is what you might want to know, as of 2016, it’s currently illegal for anyone in the United States to race drones at night; additionally, pilots must also abide by all normal FAA regulations. Find out more here ( FAA Getting Started https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/)

Are there drone racing clubs and leagues?

Yes. There are drone racing clubs and leagues all around the world. We suggest doing a google search for local drone racing clubs and seeing what is around you to join. A local club could be a great way to get started in drone racing. What we suggest when signing up for a club or league is that you ask some questions; What type of drones do they use? What are the rules? What are the fees to sign up? What are the fees to race? What are the rules of the race track?

How do I join a drone racing league?

If you want to find a local league in your area, you can do a quick online search to find one. What is great about joining a drone racing league is the sense of community, as well as information you can learn from others within your area. Below is a list of some of the top Leagues and Associations that you can become part of.

  1. The Drone Racing League (DRL) is an American motorsports organization that hosts events worldwide. Their races are held in both open courses and stadium settings. The DRL has its own TV channel on which you can see videos of races and different pilots’ perspectives. What makes it unique is that their system automatically keeps the drones from crashing into each other during the race, which is what happens in most drone races. The worldwide interest in drone racing has even inspired a video game where you can take part in virtual drone races. Interested in trying out for DRL? Here is their link for tryouts https://thedroneracingleague.com/tryouts/
  2. FAI Drone Sports is a global organization that promotes drone racing. What sets them apart is that they are the only international organization to have publically recognized drone pilots. What this means is that you don’t have to be an engineer or spend thousands of dollars on parts for your own UAV in order to race, as long as you are a member of the Drone Sports Association. If you are interested in drone racing, joining an association is a good way to meet fellow pilots and gain access to races and events.
  3. International Drone Association is the official world governing body for drone racing. What this means is that it is an organization that can provide rules and regulations for races, as well as host them all over the USA with pilots from more than 40 countries. What makes it unique from other leagues is that you can participate in a trial or a race within 24 hours of signing up. What is also great about the International Drone Association is that they have partnered with “The Academy of Model Aeronautics” which provides courses on drone safety.
  4. MultiGP Drone Racing is a global association that connects competitive pilots from all over the world. What sets them apart from the rest of the associations is that it is completely community-based. What this means is that its member base comes from grassroots organizers and their members are all passionate about what they do, as opposed to being paid employees. What also makes MultiGP different is that they have a strict set of “MultiGP Chapters” around the United States and abroad. What this ensures is that no matter where you are, there will be a chapter nearby with races being held at least once a month. MultiGP also has two contests they organize outside of their monthly chapters: World Racing Grand Prix and Seasons Finale.
  5. Drone Sports Association is a non-profit that hosts races and events for its members. What is great about the Drone Sports Association is that they have chapters in most states, so you are never too far away from participating in drone racing or learning more about it. They also have lightweight drones for people who want to try out racing without having to invest much money at all. What also makes the Drone Sports Association unique is that they have a chapter devoted strictly to drone racing in schools, which means that children from all over the United States can learn how to build, fly and race drones with their peers.

Do Drone Racing Pilots Make Money?

As with any sport, there are different levels of competition. What also makes drone racing interesting is that you can win prizes and sponsorships even as a beginner pilot. What is great about the Drone Racing League and FAI is that they both have their own networks where you can upload your footage and start getting recognition from other pilots and fans. Because the sport is brand new and still growing, there isn’t a big prize pool just yet. What also makes it difficult to set prizes for drone races is the fact that people can come in last place and win just as easily as they can come in first place. What you should keep in mind though is that sponsorships and prizes do typically increase as you become a more well-known and talented pilot, but these things take time. What we can say with certainty is that if you’re passionate about drone racing and willing to put the hard work in, you will eventually get noticed by industry leaders.

Does drone racing seem like something you would want to get started in? We find it a particularly fascinating sport. Drop us a comment if this sounds like a sport you would be interested in becoming involved with.