SOME of Australia’s fastest drone pilots will battle it out at the Rotorcross State Qualifiers in Pickering Brook next month, vying for a berth in the 2018 National Drone Racing Championships in Perth this November.
Kinross pilot Michael Maus has been flying competitively for 18 months and is aiming to qualify for the national championships.
“I love flying so my wife gave me a tutorial flight in a helicopter for my 40th birthday,” he said.
“However the cost of getting your pilot’s license is in the order of $35,000.
“Then I discovered drones and found there was a club in Pickering Brook.”
Mr Maus will use goggles to get a view of his drone as he steers it through a maze of obstacles.
Drone racing at Eden Park in New Zealand.
“There are 14 drone racing clubs in Australia who will each present their four best pilots to compete in the nationals,” he said.
“Those who perform well at the nationals have the opportunity to compete overseas.”
Rotorcross president Hans Boehm said drone racing was exploding in popularity with millions being poured into the sport.
“Drone racing is so popular around the world that the World Drone Racing League is even broadcast on ESPN,” he said.
“There is big money in winning international competitions and the top pilots are becoming celebrities.
“Current Australian champion Thomas Bitmatta is taking a gap year after finishing high school to travel the world as a drone racing pilot.
“It’s a huge industry now.”
However Mr Boehm said the sport’s growth in Australia is being hampered by restrictions on where pilots can train and compete.
“There are about numerous clubs around Australia, however our club in Pickering Brook is the country’s first and only club to have a dedicated home ground to fly,” he said.
“We had hoped to establish a north chapter but it is difficult with some councils banning their use and stringent regulations from Australia’s civil aviation regulator as well as scaremongering over privacy concerns.”
The state qualifiers will be held at the Pickering Brook Sports Club on Saturday, June 16.