New competitive sport takes to the skies

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

A local first person view (FPV) quad racing event took place over the weekend, bringing a community of drone racers together to test their skills.

The Sun Parlor R/C Flyers (SPRCF) club was established in 1974. A few years ago when FPV quad racing started to become more popular, they had a number of members who were interested. This year, the SPRCF club built a dedicated racing area specifically for quad racing which has been very popular with their new members, and a number of members have just joined this year because of that racing area.

Racers competed with first person view quads Saturday. They completed as many laps as possible in a two-minute time frame.

Club vice president David Doyon said it’s a safe space to fly and is always open to SPRCF members.

“The quad racers all have cameras that send a video signal to the pilot who wears a headset that has tiny screens,” explained Doyon. “The pilot has a view as if he or she is flying in the quad racer. You see the other quads around you as you navigate the flags and gates that make up the course. The pilot has a superman flying experience as you become immersed in the flying experience and feel as you are actually flying in the quad racer.”

Doyon explained there is a learning curve to be able to fly the quad racers at speeds of up to 100 km/hr. He said everyone starts at slower speeds as they develop the skills necessary to fly, and as their skills increase, their speeds increase.

On Saturday, after an hour of practicing the quads took to the skies in a number of heats where racers competed for two minutes at a time. The total number of laps were counted and each pilot had four heats to fly in. Race results were based on the number of total laps for all four heats.

The racing event was open to anyone with a MAAC membership, which Doyon explained is their governing body which provides insurance to the pilots.

The event was scheduled to be held at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg, but due to scheduling conflicts the SPRCF club decided to host the event at their own field.

Racer Shawn Tootill sets up his quad for a race Saturday. Originally scheduled for the Libro Centre, the event was moved to Tower Field and hosted by the Sun Parlour Flyers.

“I was brought out last year to watch a race at the end of the season and I was amazed right away, I wanted to get into it,” said racer Bob Blanchard. “We build all of these quads ourselves so they helped me to get all of the parts together. There is a big learning curve involved in building these racing drones. I spent about six months acquiring parts and building before I even got in the air. I spend more time working on the quad than I do actually spend flying but it’s a blast. Once you get a taste of flying, it’s a first person view so we can see directly out of the drone, and once you can fly you want to fly all the time.”

Blanchard said you can build drones as cheap at $150, but there are so many different add-ons and upgrades you can purchase to build a better quad. Regardless of the cost, he said he would highly recommend the sport.

“It’s so much fun and the community is great and always willing to help new pilots,” said Blanchard. “Its only competitive once we start the race, it’s all fun until that beeper goes off.”

For more information on the SPRCF club, visit http://www.sunparlorflyers.com.

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