SEBRING, Fla. (WFLA) – Less than two years ago, this sport didn’t exist. Now, drone racing is the latest phenomenon sweeping the globe.
Some of the world’s best drone racers are in Sebring this week to compete in a white-knuckle thrill ride in the air.
Many of the pilots learned of drone racing through YouTube videos. Now, it’s exploded in size and popularity.
It’s easy to see why. It’s fast, it’s thrilling, and it’s a sport virtually anyone can pick up.
“It is a real life video game,” said drone racer Sergio Herrera.
Drone racing gives you all the adrenaline without any of the risk.
“If you’ve ever dreamed of being a jet fighter pilot diving down into a canyon and making ridiculously dangerous decisions, without the risk of crashing and dying, this is for you,” said MultiGP founder Chris Thomas.
Pilots from around the world are competing in the Sebring drone race this weekend.
“You’ll see an aircraft take off and go from zero to about 80 miles an hour in seconds. A human on board the aircraft would have trouble staying conscious with the Gs that these aircraft are capable of,” said Thomas.
Wearing goggles, the pilots direct their drones through a series of obstacles- diving, banking and weaving through a complex course.
“A race track is flat, whatever the terrain provides. Whereas, we can fly in three dimensions,” said Thomas.
The course is surrounded by nets to protect the spectators and the drones are designed to take a beating.
“If you do manage to break it, it’s a modular system. Say you break this arm, two bolts, slide it out, pop one in, in under five minutes, you’re off to the races again,” said Josh Schiff with Hobbico.
Racing cars or flying planes is expensive, but anyone can get into drone racing for under a grand and get the same competitive feeling.
“A lot of people say it makes you feel like Superman. I say it makes you feel like Peter Pan more, because you just dart around and its just an amazing feeling,” said Herrera.
There will be qualifiers for the next few days, and then, the big drone race will be held on Saturday at the Sebring airport.