Drone pilots gather for racing championship Pilots fly their small racing drones through an obstacle course on Governors Island, a former military installation in New York Harbor, Friday, Aug. 5, 2016. Drone pilots gathered in New York City to compete in the National Drone Racing Championship. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Drone pilots gather for racing championship
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Tyler Brennan is training to be a pilot in the Air Force. Yet he was vying to be top gun at the National Drone Racing Championship. It was held August 5-7.
 
Brennan is a 22-year-old Air Force lieutenant. He traveled from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to compete in the tournament. It was held in New York City. He was one of more than 100 pilots. They were competing for a $50,000 prize.
 
"I found it on YouTube and I was hooked immediately," Brennan said of the sport. "My first time, I was like, 'I got it. I am hooked here.' And I crashed almost immediately. But that split second that you get has you hooked for life."
 
Dozens of pilots gathered for a practice event on Governors Island. It is a former military installation in New York Harbor.
 
With spectators watching from a viewing stand, the pilots put on headsets that gave them a cockpit view. They remotely directed their drones. Most were no larger than a paperback book. The drones passed through an obstacle course of gates and flags. The drones flew at speeds up to 60 mph.
 
The competitors fly using first-person view headsets. These allow them to see as if they were inside the tiny drones, said Scot Refsland. He is the founder and chairman of the Drone Sports Association.
 
A small mesh net is the only thing that separates the spectators from the action. Spectators stood on the sidelines, their smartphones in hand. Many spectators captured video of the small crafts whizzing by. Participants needed to pass through qualifying competitions in order to race.
 
The tournament was broadcast on ESPN3. It drew competitors of all ages.
 
The youngest racer was 12-year-old Sorell Miller of Boise, Idaho. He faced off against dozens of other racers. One was his father, Conrad.
 
Brennan said he hopes the competition persuades people that they shouldn't be afraid of the craft. They tend to make news headlines only when someone is using one improperly.
 
"Nobody here will you see flying in airspace they aren't supposed to be, flying near a wildfire or doing anything they aren't supposed to do," he said. "I hope this introduces drone racing and can show people that drones aren't something that sits outside your window and spies on you - not at all in any way, shape or form. This is a sport."
 
After this, he said he's going to focus on preparing to fly much bigger machines.
 
"This is my real hurrah," Brennan said. "After this, I'm concentrating on flying for the Air Force. This will remain a side sport."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why would drone enthusiasts want to race?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (23)
  • lucasr-
    8/19/2016 - 03:46 p.m.

    I love drones I got one for Christmas and I played a game with my friend who can keep there drone in the air the longest it's really fun.

  • cadenb-
    8/19/2016 - 03:47 p.m.

    Now I want to drone race because it sounds very fun. You get to go through objects and stuff in a race and you are controlling it. How fun does that sound!!

  • baileyw-
    8/19/2016 - 03:47 p.m.

    Flying drones sounds so cool. I wish I had one myself. someday I wan't to go see a drone race. People should re enize drones for the cool things they do.

  • mariam23325-
    8/19/2016 - 03:49 p.m.

    I like planes this summer(2016) my mom sis and two brothers(one little one big) got to see some planes and it was so much FUN!

  • abigailt2017-
    8/23/2016 - 03:30 p.m.

    That's cool i would try it because it goes in "first person" mode.Then you do some hard stuff of going over,through,under stuff like that. Also for the money!

  • alexisb411005-
    8/23/2016 - 03:32 p.m.

    I thought this was cool because usually dont read about drones but his was interesting because i never thought drones were cool but know after reading this it makes me want to learn more about drones.

  • camilat-
    8/23/2016 - 03:41 p.m.

    drones are very exspensive my dad wanted one

  • haylieb2-
    8/25/2016 - 03:18 p.m.

    drones are amazing i mostly like the ones with lights its cool that they have races for them

  • lilyg-sto
    9/08/2016 - 09:40 a.m.

    They want to race cause its there passion and they want to get the 50,000 prize

  • akalsukhb1-lin
    12/02/2016 - 02:15 p.m.

    Drone enthusiasts would want to race because some people like drones and they might have fun.

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