Most people don’t use drones for spying.
In fact, many who fly them competitively prefer the term multirotor because of the negative connotation attached to the word “drone”. And in Halifax, the Wingbusters Rotor Racers, are establishing themselves as a go-to spot for competitive “drone racing”, as some may call it.
They are members of the MultiGP (Grand Prix) and they keep standings on a points system dependent on how many laps one finishes in any given meet. They wrapped up their regular season this past Sunday at their home field off River Street in Halifax.
Originally though, the group started out with remote control airplanes. But when the opportunity for a first-person experience came about, they could not pass it up.
“I would say the biggest appeal of what we’re doing now is it feels like you’re sitting in the aircraft flying around,” race coordinator Adam Proulx said.
“You put the goggles on your face and it seals off the outside world. Some of the drones even have microphones; you could even have the sounds of it. It’s a completely immersive experience. It’s about as close to flying an aerobatic aircraft as you can get.”
Their average event this year had around 15 to 20 competitors. But an event to qualify for regionals had 27. And the top four finishers from the event advanced.
While the racers tend to be local, not all of them hail from the South Shore.
“Pilots come from all over,” Proulx said. “We get a guy who comes from Uxbridge. Pretty much from Western Mass, up north and down to the Cape. We even get guys from Connecticut coming in.”Proulx said they have even had people join who had no experience flying remote control aircrafts.
“They see these things flying around on YouTube, on ESPN even and they want to do it,” he said. “And they can start doing it. There’s a lot of resources to help people get started.”
“It’s still in its infancy right now,” Proulx added of multirotor racing.
“But it’s growing very quickly. And I’m very excited to see where it goes. I mean, ESPN has picked this stuff up. Who knows who else will come on board.
“They’ve got some big sponsors like Mountain Dew and Red Bull,” he added. “It’s a real rush when you’re going back and forth with somebody. It’s a lot of fun.”
For more information on the Wingbusters including upcoming events, contact information and event locations, visit Wingbusters.org.
Page 1 photo credit: Steve Grenon