First U.S. National Drone Racing Championships

First U.S. National Drone Racing Championships
By Jack Freer  |  Posted July 18, 2015  |  Sacramento, California

The first ever United States National Drone Racing Championships came to a successful conclusion after two days of fierce racing competition July 16 and 17 in a soccer stadium at the California State Fair, Sacramento, California

The event organizers stated on their website “This first-of-its-kind competition is officially sanctioned by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the congressionally mandated agency that oversees radio controlled and unmanned model aviation activities. With a rich heritage in agriculture, education, technology and entertainment, the California State Fair is the perfect venue to host this innovative competition.”

One hundred and twenty pilots from the U.S. and several other countries came to the championship to compete using the most current cutting-edge technologies of drones, also called remotely piloted aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The special racing drones carry a small camera that sends a video image back to the pilot’s video goggles allowing the pilot to maneuver the drone through the racecourse. The drones are extremely fast and nimble and can reach speeds of 70 to 80 miles per hour. They are also small measuring between 9 and 12 inches across from motor to motor.

The event was run like any other professional sporting event. Pilots paid an entry fee, had to be licensed through the Academy of Model Aeronautics and follow strict rules and procedures. There were several check stations built into the event to make sure everything was done properly and safely. The field was also netted to prevent any injuries to spectators.

Besides having the blessings of the California State Fair and the Academy of Model Aeronautics, there were additional support from more than 50 corporate sponsors and drone related organizations. The total purse prize was $25,000 with a Grand Prize of $10,000. First place went to Chad Nowak from Brisbane, Australia. Chad also had no problem taking home other awards. Besides winning the individual time trials, he was also on the winning team time trial squad and won the freestyle trick event.

A drone enters a turn on the racecourse from a high approach.

Another drone enters the turn low to the ground.

Pilots and crew gather on the field for opening ceremonies.

Live stream commentary and race footage were provided.

The Parrot drone company supplied the aerial video feed of the race events.

Race drones waiting in the pilot pit area.

Pilots working on their drones in the pit area.

Pilots programming drones and taking a break between races.

Spectators watching the video feed from racing drones in the viewing area.

Pilot and first place winner Chad Nowak in the center during opening ceremonies.

Drone Nationals Photo Gallery