Balloon Museum launches ‘drone racing’ events amid growing popularity

News

The Balloon Museum is taking drone racing to new heights.

They’ve launched a new racing series on their grounds that’s attracting top competitors from around the country.

You’ve got to be fast — even furious — dodging trees, and zipping through an obstacle course with some of the most skilled drone racers out there.

“It’s my own little creation I guess. Most people custom build their own quads,” said pilot Robert Acosta about his drone.

Now, experienced pilots of all ages can compete at the Balloon Museum Pod Racing (BMPR) series.

It’s like Star Wars pod racing, but using drones, and it has skyrocketed as a worldwide air sport. 

The Balloon Museum has taken notice.

“The museum itself is a place where people can learn about the history, science, art and sport of ballooning as well as other innovative forms of flight, and drones are certainly innovative,” said Balloon Museum Manager Paul Garver.

Participants race a certain number of laps to win, and pilots like Acosta are practicing whenever they can.

“It’s really understanding weight to thrust ratio and then putting that to the course,” said Acosta.

Pilots fly their own drones, reaching speeds up to 100 mph. They also wear First Person View (FPV) goggles, which receive live video from their drone.

The zig-zagging is thrilling for the fans watching.

“It’s really cool,” said spectator Mackenzie Hill. “I’m like okay, where’s the drone.”

It’s also harder than it looks.

“I don’t think it’s really easy,” said Hill. “You really do, I think, have to have the talent and the eye.”

“It really brings aviation into the hands of just about anybody who wants to participate in this,” said Garver.

It’s a fun experience for the pilots, but the spectators can get involved too.

“They can fly a simulator,” said Garver. “They can watch the live video feeds that are coming in from the various quad-copters in flight.”

It’s a race to the finish, to win a trophy and sponsorship prizes.

The museum says about 30 pilots have already signed up for the next race, which is Sunday, Aug. 26. All pilots must have an Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) membership to compete.

You can find more racing dates and registration information here.

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