Drones are one of the latest gadgets to take the world by storm If you are not familiar with drones, they are small remote-control aircraft, usually with four rotors, alternatively known as ‘quadcopters’, which fly for fun, for business and now for sports all over the world.
So, what kind of drones are there? Ignoring military drones as a powerful and versatile tool, commercially available drones generally fall into three groups, namely:
- Cheap hobby drones
- Camera drone
- Racing drones
The first category aims at newcomers to the world of drones who have fun in it and can buy something better if they enjoy it. Camera drones are mainly used by licensed operators to conduct surveys and take pictures while on the go, the cheapest form of aerial photography. Racing drones are a completely different class, and we want to see it here.
What is an FPV drone?
Drone racing has become a popular hobby and will undoubtedly become a proper commercial sport in a short time. This is an air race where the pilot does not leave the ground. These drones are ‘first-person view’ craft – or FPV – and they are fast, sophisticated and often out of sight. The pilot follows his drone on a phone or other screen instead, much like playing a computer game.
While camera drones are designed to be able to hover for long periods of time, FPV drones are for performance and they can be very competitive. It takes skill and experience to successfully learn how to fly a drone in FPV mode!
There are several types of FPV drone kits where you can build from the materials provided. Some assume you already have a transmitter and receiver; Others provide their kits. The pilots closest to the professional level even buy the relevant components and make the drone from scratch by fitting it to their own design.
But before you buy a drone for running and training, you need to consider the legitimacy of the drones and where you are allowed to fly them.
Is the drone legal?
There are laws on drone flying that have been done for safety reasons. You will need a license to fly for anything other than a ‘toy’ drone and you will need to take training and pass a test.
This means that both professional drones – cameras and FPVs – can reach critical heights, and this may mean interfering with controlled airspace.
A few years ago, following the reports of drones flying in and around the airport perimeter, a famous series of events took place a few days ago to shut down Gatwick Airport, one of the busiest in the UK. No explanation was ever put forward.
However, it should be understood that drone races are events organized in controlled areas – usually in large cities in open spaces – that pose no threat to air travel. If you live within a few miles of any type of airfield, take your drone somewhere else for practice.
Should I take drone racing?
Why not? It’s a great hobby that requires skill and concentration and it’s growing surprisingly fast in popularity. Drone races attract decent crowds and the best events are well organized and competitive. Before you use an FPV kit, start with a small quality drone, learn to fly it where it is safe and legal and you will see that you have reached a level of skill that requires you to take the FPV drone forward and race.