VIFLY R220 Review

By: Kathleen Hickey

If you're just starting out in FPV, it can be intimidating. A growing market, and an abundance of information online can make choosing the right drone, or "quad," a daunting choice. The first big decision in deciding what to purchase, is if you'd like to build your own quad, or if you'd like to buy a Ready To Fly (RTF), like the VIFLY. Both choices have advantages and disadvantages.

I decided to build my first quad. I really wanted to know how it worked, so I wanted to put one together. I also knew that part of racing is crashing, so you need to know how to fix it once it's broken. It took months to build. I had someone helping me, so between our schedules, build issues, and various technical issues, it took a while. Even after it was done, it was plagued with issues. It wasn't until my second build that I was actually able to do any decent flying. The benefit of an RTF is being able to take the quad out of the box, and start flying right away. There is no wait time, no soldering issues, no hoping and finger crossing that all of your lights will turn on.

The VIFLY comes with a lot of great accessories, so you really only need to have goggles, and you're set. Below are the items that come in the kit.

The VIFLY comes with a Flysky radio. Not all RTF quads on the market come with one. The most common radio for FPV at the moment is a Taranis, by Frsky, (I'm sure the similarity in names is not a coincidence), which is what i normally use. The Flysky runs on four AAA batteries (not included). It's really light in weight, and does not feel as good in quality to the Taranis.

The VIFLY is already programed in, so there's no need to do it yourself. When I took the VIFLY out to fly, I was also with my friend Josh Bryson, (WicketFPV). Josh also took a look at the equipment, and flew the VIFLY. Because Josh has more flight experience than me, I thought it would be helpful to have his input as a more experienced pilot, and mine as a beginner. I asked Josh his thoughts on the Flysky. "Are there better radio’s out there? Yes! But for a beginner quad it gets the job done and it is actually usable on future quads so long as they use the same protocol. It has some future proofing in that way and eventually if you decide to stick with RC and FPV you can always get one of the more expensive popular radios."

If you're used to a certain radio, it is a big adjustment to then move to a new one. It was a challenge for me to get used to new switches, and gimbals. I asked John Qin, Director of Sales and Marketing for VIFLY if it was possible to program the VIFLY to another radio. "What you have is a RTF version. Now we also have the BNF (Bind and Fly - Binding is the process of programming the quad to the radio so they "speak" to each other), version which pre-install Taranis receiver. So the customer can buy the BNF (Taranis) version directly. We have 3 versions now, FrSky(Taranis), Spektrum and Flysky. We will public it on our website soon." If you already have a Taranis or Spektrum, and you'd like to purchase the VIFLY, then look for the BNF version. 

You also receive a GoPro mount (which seems to be designed more for the older models, and not the Session), an extra set of DAL 5045 props, a lipo balance charger, and a 3C lipo. I used the lipo charger once, to charge the 3C that it came with. I already have a battery charger, so after the first charge, I used the one I have. Also, most of my batteries are 4C, which is currently the standard when flying FPV. The charger included in the set is really simple to use, and basic. It will get the job done, but if FPV is going to be more of an investment, it will be worth looking into other chargers. 

This is my own charger, not the one included with the VIFLY

This is my own charger, not the one included with the VIFLY

The VIFLY quad itself is a nice design. It is rather heavy, which is common to find in RTF. The more experience someone has in FPV, the more weight they want to take off of their quad, but for a beginner, the weight isn't as important. It will of course affect how the quad flies, and how much you'll get out of your battery, but again, for someone that's starting, the most important factor is being able to actually fly. It has an LED display for the the battery voltage when plugged in, and the channel display as well. The channel can be changed with one button, on the body of the VIFLY, which is really convenient. There is a DVR port reserved, a battery protector, and a VF-RC-2205 motor. 

The VIFLY comes with an instruction manual that covers all of the basics. I made sure to read it, even though I have been flying my own quad. Chad and I met Josh at the park, and I read through the manual several times, which again was pretty self explanatory. The Flysky radio arms a quad using "stick arming," which means to have the props start spinning, you have the throttle all the way down, and turn it to one direction for a couple seconds to arm. If you want to disarm your quad, you have to pull the throttle down, and move it to the opposite direction for a couple seconds. My Taranis arms and disarms using a switch. I can pull one switch down, and the quad is disarmed, which can take a second, as long as your finger stays near the switch, which it should. It may be a few seconds of time that's saved, but for someone that is not experienced it can make a big difference. If there's a situation where you would have to disarm quickly, a few seconds can mean a lot. The user would also of course have to remember which direction is arm, and disarm, even in a panic. I flew the quad Line of Sight (LOS) first, with the 3C to get used to it. There is a noticeable difference when you're used to the 4C and change to a 3C. Again, if you've never flown before, then there's nothing to compare it to, but since most people use a 4S it would be best to get used to a battery that has more power. 

Next I flew FPV. I'll be honest and say that most of my experience is flying LOS, but this was a great way for me to get more practice in. I use FatShark goggles, which again are an FPV standard and my recommendation, but there are other options available. I also switched the battery to a 4C. I use Tattu R-Line 1300. I thought changing the battery made a huge difference. I also thought the camera, which can be really easily adjusted, worked well and overall it was really easy to fly. Josh gave his input as well. "On 3S it was a little under powered but on 4S it flew better. I would say that some tuning was needed to really get it feeling “locked in” but I think for a beginner quad it is enough to get you in the air and going." The VIFLY also offers a free repair service, an free spare parts, by reaching out to their care department. Shipping is not covered, but I don't believe there is another RTF that offers free repair, and parts, which is a huge plus. 

If you'd like to see the VIFLY in action, you can also look on their YouTube channel:

Final Thoughts

Overall, the VIFLY is a really good option for someone that's just starting out. For $299 USD, it comes with a lot of extra gear, and with the care option the price is pretty hard to beat. People that have read some of my other blogs would know that I'm a big advocate for building your own quad. I think it's an important part of the process. With that being said, being able to trade in the months of build time on my first quad, to airtime on the VIFLY, has a lot of value as well. 

Something to also consider are additional costs. These are items you'll have to purchase regardless of the RTF you decide to go with, but just to keep in mind, you'll need:

  • Additional batteries
  • Goggles
  • GoPro (not mandatory, but most people like to watch their footage.

I would also lean more towards the BNF option when it is available. There's value in having a radio that most of the FPV community either uses, or has used at some point. It's easier to get help with troubleshooting issues, and compared to the Flysky getting a Taranis or another radio is something you can take to any quad after you've grown out of the VIFLY, or if you'd like to add another quad to the collection.

For more information on the VIFLY, their care program, or to purchase your own (there are 4 available colors!) Visit the VIFLY Website. You can also find them on Facebook, and Instagram

Happy Flying!

 

 

 

Drones and FPV - A Female Perspective

By: Kathleen Hickey

I started Sex Love and Drones a little over a year ago. At the time there were very few recognizable women in the drone, and FPV communities. This blog has been a year in the making, and in that year I've been able to meet more amazing women. As more females are entering the industry, it's a perfect time to meet some of the women that are, and have been paving the way. From pilots, to race organizers, and supportive significant others, please let me introduce some of the women that make the drone world go round. 

Megan Proulx - DroneDoll

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Bio: My name is Megan, I'm 28 years old and I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota with my boyfriend Simon, aka MartyFlyzzz. I'm sort of a space cadet. I like spending a lot of time thinking and being inside my own head. Spirituality, health and wellness are all really important to me. Nature is my greatest source of energy and inspiration, and I'm continually working on strengthening my connection to the Universe. I've always been more of an introvert, but flying FPV really helps to push me out of my bubble. It allows me to transform my weaknesses into strengths. Simon and I are about to celebrate three years together - I never would have imagined that flying drones, of all things, would be such a big thing in our lives. It's been just over a year now since I started flying and I'm so thankful for all of the experiences I've had, people I've met, and the support I've received so far from my sponsors, SpaceOneFPV and Tattu. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the coming year brings and I plan to leave my mark on it. #LadiesLoveFPV

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

I was introduced to mini quads in early 2015, when Simon started flying FPV. I found myself accompanying him to various parks almost every single day so he could practice flying. Flying drones started to become really time consuming and I became less and less thrilled about the idea of continuing to spend every bit of my free time spotting for Simon. I basically gave myself an ultimatum. I had to either start flying or I had to accept the fact that Simon had a new love in his life and I would forever be the third wheel. So I started flying.

Q. What initially attracted you to it?

Initially, I wasn't attracted to the idea of flying mini quads at all. I found it to be a little too far outside of my comfort zone and I was convinced that, if given the chance to fly FPV, I would fail especially. Like I mentioned earlier, my decision to start flying was largely motivated by my desire to save my relationship with Simon. I wasn't entirely convinced it was something I could ever see myself participating in on a more serious level, but once I started learning to fly I discovered that I had a sort of naturally ability to fly the quad and I was able to progress fairly quickly.   

Q. Have you been involved in other RC hobbies or gaming?

Gaming has never been a thing for me. Of course I've played my fair share of video and computer games, but my interest and skill level has never really evolved far beyond Mario Kart and......well, just Mario Kart. My dad has been building and flying RC fixed wings for at least 30 years. My brother builds and flies them as well, so RC has always been a part of my family's lives.        

Q. What is your favorite part about flying? 

The thing I enjoy most about flying FPV is the separation of your mind from your body that you can achieve. Once you get to a place where you're in control and you feel confident in your flying, you can really begin to use your flights as a form of expression and it becomes this incredible creative outlet for you. It's beyond exciting to see the progression of FPV freestyle as a form of art, and the idea of drone racing as a spectator sport is also very intriguing. These two facets of FPV sort of balance each other out, so the hobby has a lot of potential to become this really well-rounded creature that offers something for everyone.  

Q. What’s your current set up? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite, or go-to products?

I'm currently flying two different 5" Alien set ups. One with Lumenier 2206 2350's on RaceFlight, and the other with Emax 2205 2300's on KISS. I've mostly been flying freestyle and I absolutely love flying the Alien frames. However, I'm starting to become more involved in racing so I'll be adding a racing quad to the mix very soon. I spent a lot of time flying a Diatone 150 when I was first learning. I think this is a great option for anyone just getting into FPV. A quad this size can take a lot of hits without doing any real significant damage, and it's much less intimidating to fly overall.  

Q. How is/was the build process for you? What is your favorite part of building? What is the biggest challenge? 

The biggest challenge for me is being motivated enough to build my own quad. The first quad I ever attempted to build was a New Era 180 from SpaceOneFPV. The only soldering I had ever done was in an Art Metals course that I took while I was in college. It turns out, soldering jewelry is nothing like soldering electronics. Needless to say, I need a lot of help from Simon. I'm just not the engineering, computer science, fully understands electronics type of person. My Bachelor's Degree is in Fine Art and Graphic Design, so......call me if you need a logo or any other type of art and design work ;)

Q. There is an increasing number of women that are starting to fly, but the field is still predominately male. What would you say is the biggest reason for that?

I think RC hobbies in general have always been this thing that the guys do together. I watched my dad build and fly radio controlled fixed wing airplanes my entire childhood and I never once thought to ask if I could be involved. Society taught me that women just don't do those things. Although I didn't realize it at the time, I was definitely operating by that same principle when Simon started flying. To me, flying drones would always be his thing because I could never be good at it....because I'm a woman......right? A lot of the women I know who are into flying were introduced to it by their boyfriend or husband, and I'm sure some of them were also reluctant to participate at first. I think for a certain generation of women, drone racing would be considered a men's sport or activity. I was one of the first women to get involved in the FPV community, and both men and women alike were surprised to see that I was flying a drone. Their reaction was always something like, "Wait, she flies too?!" 

Now a lot more women have started flying (Yay!), but I would say that the general public might still assume that it's a men's sport since it's mostly guys that we're seeing featured on television and in various articles and advertisements. The fields of engineering and computer science have traditionally been dominated by men as well, so I think this is also something that possibly contributes to there being fewer women participating in FPV.  

Q. What would you say to a woman that is interested in joining the Drone/FPV community that may be intimidated by the lack of women involved?

I would tell her that the intimidation she feels is all the more reason to get involved. The most effective way of making the FPV community feel more welcoming to women is to have more women in the community. There's a lot of potential for personal growth being a woman in a male-dominated sport or hobby, and I try to remember that any sort of self-doubt or intimidation I may feel is really just the universe presenting me with an opportunity to gain strength and knowledge. 

Q. Do you feel the Drone/FPV community does a good job of reaching out to women? If so, what are the things you see that are being done to do that, and if not, do you have any ideas of what can be done to reach out?

In my experience, the Drone/FPV community has been incredibly supportive of the women. A lot more women have joined the community throughout the past year, but we're still a relatively small group. It's difficult to gauge if we're actually taken seriously as pilots at this point. I think a lot of companies are willing to send us t-shirts and stickers, but I would love to see a greater effort towards getting women out flying. Sure, we'll probably take a selfie with your swag, but the guys aren't the only ones who need props, motors, and batteries to stay in the air. Send us some gear! 

Q. I’ve had a lot of men ask me how they can get their significant others involved in flying. What would be your advice to them? 

I get asked this question a lot. I always suggest that they start small - like maybe 2 carats and a dozen roses. Just kidding....sort of :) What worked for me was having a quad to learn how to fly with that I wasn't intimidated by. So I would suggest building some sort of micro quad for your significant other. Then make up a little track they can fly around while you're at the park. Simon would make up a simple course using the trees to designate turns and I would practice flying through it over and over. I've found it really helpful to set a goal, which was to fly through the course without crashing. That way, I could track my progress and continue to set new, more challenging goals.

Q. I’ve had my share of “quad fights” with my boyfriend. We don’t agree on how to build something, or we may disagree on a certain product or method of learning. Have any of you experienced that as well? 

Having your significant other teach you how to fly can definitely effect the dynamic of your relationship, and this was something that I used to struggle with a lot. I didn't like that Simon basically became my coach, and I really didn't like that he gave me constructive criticism. What nerve he had! I just wanted him to tell me how amazing I was and that I could do no wrong. That wouldn't have helped me become a better pilot though. He's a really great teacher and I couldn't ask for a better partner. His belief in me is what keeps me going.   

 

For more on Megan, visit her on social media: 

Facebook * Instagram * YouTube

 

Magdalena Klos - MGfpv

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Bio: Magdalena Klos, born in '89.  Polish girl, livin' in UK since 2013). I'm in love with mini drones and sometimes with my Phantom4! Relationship? Sorry, I'm taken. I love traveling and photography. Im sponsored by DroneBit

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

My boyfriend was flying first. I remember the day when I said to him, I wanna try to fly and see how it is. I'm so thankful for that. He is a big motivation for me. 

Q. What initially attracted you to it? 

This view from goggle, and fun with flying. This is incredible, you can meet a lot of different people, and all of them love the same hobby, so doesn't matter who you are or what you look like, just enjoy this amazing hobby with your friends and have fun.

Q. Have you been involved in other RC hobbies or gaming? 

Yeah, of course. I have RC car, and couple of planes but I'm addicted to drones.

Q. What is your favorite part about flying? 

The feeling when I'm in the air. I can do whatever I want, I can see the world from different point of view. That's an amazing feeling and experience. I really recommend to try.

Q. How often do you fly? 

A: Not often with my Pinky (RD210) sometimes 2-3 times per month. I have a nano quad and it's perfect for winter. I can fly wherever I want.

Q. What’s your current set up? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite, or go-to products? 

Name of drone: PINKY, set up: Frame - RD210, KINGKONG motors 2204-2300KV, DYS SN20A mini esc, Flight controller - Naze 32 Revision 6. 

Magdalena's quad is pictures on the right. 

Magdalena's quad is pictures on the right. 

Q. What are the biggest advantages, and disadvantages of being a woman in a predominately male community? 

It's just advantages, males love females flying with drones.

Q. Do you feel like there is a higher or lower expectation in regards to performance when you compete in a race? 

I don't race. I prefer freestyle!

Q. I’ve had a lot of men ask me how they can get their significant others involved in flying. What would be your advice to them? 

A: Buy her first drone. I think the best one for the 1st drone will be - nano drone. Make this drone more for female, maybe with pink, purple or blue color and you will see, she will love it ! 

For more on Magdalena, visit her on social media:

Facebook * Instagram * YouTube

 

Katarina Simic - @ThatDroneKat

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Bio: Hi, I’m Katarina Simic (aka @thatdronekat). I’m from California, but currently living in Las Vegas. Everything you’ve imagined is true about living here. Celine Dion and I reside together in Caesar’s Palace and start our mornings off with a round of martinis and black jack. Oh and glitter. Lots of glitter. When I’m not doing all that jazz I work on a few different things. I am 107 certified, and work on commercial UAS projects. I also host and organize Xtreme Drone Circuit (XDC) races. I also do sales/digital marketing for GreenGale Publishing, representing 11 national luxury lifestyle magazines. I’ve recently started to get into flying and building FPV quads, so watch out! 

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

I met a guy in Vegas over 2 years ago with a drone startup and he was looking to use drones for precision agriculture. With my background and MSc in Bioresource Engineering, it was a perfect match. I began researching different agricultural/environmental UAS solutions, which got me hooked. This lead me to Praxis Aerospace, where I worked as a research scientist and helped launch the world’s first commercial droneport located in Nevada. Now I’m working on some independent projects. 

As for FPV, my boyfriend Harrison Gale is the CEO of XDC Racing and recently won 1st at Drone Worlds with Team USA. Through his journey in FPV, I have been involved in the community. 

Q. What initially attracted you to it? 

It is amazing that we can use drones for remote sensing, cutting out expensive and dangerous helicopters. I also remember going out in the field and sampling large areas by foot. Now I can do that in 15 minutes with sensors/cameras via UAS. The technological advancements of drones are revolutionizing so many industries such as search and rescue, law enforcement, shipping, conservation/environmental (monitoring and assessing), and many more.

Q. What is your favorite part about flying? 

I get to be a bird, my spirit animal. 

Q. What’s your current set up, or drone of choice? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite, or go-to products? 

The Inductrix is my new obsession. I fly it FPV in my apartment and it makes me feel as though I’m a tiny bee exploring the world. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. I’m currently building a XJaguar FPV quad and before that I built a Bantam 180. For commercial uses, DJI products are great because they are easy and affordable. DroneDeploy is really great for flight planning. Harrison just ordered a DJI Mavic Pro, which I am excited about getting my hands on.  

I have yet to fly fixed wing, but after seeing them race at Drone World’s I have been itching to try. 

Q. There is an increasing number of women that are starting to fly, but the field is still predominately male. What would you say is the biggest reason for that? 

 I noticed that there a lot of ex-military getting into commercial UAS and thus it is predominately male. There are just less women in tech in general. Let’s change that! 

Q. What would you say to a woman that is interested in joining the Drone/FPV community that may be intimidated by the lack of women involved?

What I love about FPV is that it is very community oriented. They should reach out to their local MultiGP chapter or join facebook groups to find mentors and possibly other women to fly with. I’ve been thinking about starting a group or team, so please contact me! 

Q. How do you feel Drone/FPV companies are doing as far as marketing to women pilots? What do you believe they are doing well? What changes can they make to appeal to more women? 

Getting younger kids (both male and female) excited and exposed to the field is where I believe companies should invest in. Starting programs, clubs, conferences, etc. For example, my friend Nick Iverson is launching an innovative new program called the Canadian Drone Academy where you will be provided all the materials and instruction to build and fly FPV quads. 

Q. Where do you see your future in drones/FPV? What are some goals you would like to accomplish? What accomplishment as far as flying are you most proud of? 

I am currently working on a project to monitor wildlife at the Mount Camdaboo private reserve in South Africa with a drone. I hope to do more environmental projects and am always looking for new ideas and partners. My goal is to also become better at FPV racing. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Hope to see you at the upcoming XDC HD Race in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) the first week of January! Stay tuned for exact dates and times TBD. 

For more on Katarina, visit her on social media:

Instagram * Twitter

XDC Racing

Contact: thatdronekat@gmail.com

 

Jamie Bohn - BluJay FPV

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Bio: My name is Jamie (Blujay FPV) and I live in Southern California. I started flying FPV in May 2016. Bapu and I have been together for about 5 years. We actually met at work which was very unexpected, much like me taking an interest in this hobby/sport :) I work as an Employment Counselor for a local Social Services Office. It doesn’t give me much time other than weekends to fly my quad. I currently do not have any sponsors but I am hopeful some day that will change!

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

Bapu finally convinced me to give it a shot earlier this year. He always encourages me to try new things so I gave in and said, “Why the hell not? What’s the worst that can happen?” Well the worst thing did happen… I was hooked. The minute I realized I could actually do it, I didn’t want to stop.

Q. What is your favorite part about flying?

I forget about everything when I fly. No matter what is going on in my life, it all goes away when I put on my goggles. I have never been asked this question before to be honest. I just realized this is the way I manage stress. Thank you Kathleen for helping me realize that.

Q. How often do you fly?

Not as often as I would like. I am only able to fly on weekends. Lately, I seem to be flying every two weeks.

Q. What’s your current set up? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite, or go-to products?

I am currently flying HD! Yes, I am LOVING IT!!! I fly the SiganHD frame with Droneproz 2206-2300KV motors, KISS 24 amp ESCs, KISS FC, and Racekraft 5045 Bluntnose tri props. I have tried various props but these Racekraft ones are my favorite. I hope to try the 5051s at some point.

Q. How is/was the build process for you? What is your favorite part of building? What is the biggest challenge?

I have to practically pry Bapu’s fingers off my quad. I love knowing how things work. I try to do my own repairs. I do a pretty crappy job soldering but I am working on it which also happens to be my favorite part of building. My biggest challenge is not having the opportunity to build more. I have had two quads. I haven’t broken anything bad enough to have to rebuild. My worst break was probably when I was hit from behind and my VTX ejected. I’ve broken a few cameras here and there but never anything serious like a broken arm.

Q. Do you feel the Drone/FPV community does a good job of reaching out to women? If so, what are the things you see that are being done to do that, and if not, do you have any ideas of what can be done to reach out?

Based on personal experience, yes, I think it does a decent job of reaching out to women. I attend events on a more regular basis now and have talked to many male pilots. Most have been very supportive while others don’t even acknowledge me. But the majority of male pilots tell me they wished more women would enter into the sport. When I was in Hawaii with Bapu for Drone Worlds 2016, a male pilot approached me and told me how impressed he was with a 20-second lap I did on a MultiGP UTT. I was like whoa WTF?! :D

Q. What are the biggest advantages, and disadvantages of being a woman in a predominately male community?

The advantage is the likelihood of getting noticed. People are watching and waiting for a female pilot to compete and do well. I am unable to comment on the disadvantages because I feel there are none.

Q. I’ve had a lot of men ask me how they can get their significant others involved in flying. What would be your advice to them?

Oh I love this question. You can’t force it. Just be very supportive. Buy him/her something small to fly around the office or home first and take it from there! Have LOTS of patience too and try to have fun.

Q. I’ve had my share of “quad fights” with my boyfriend. We don’t agree on how to build something, or we may disagree on a certain product or method of learning. Have any of you experienced that as well?

When I was first learning to fly, I had this Nano QX I would fly around inside the house. I remember one time Bapu told me to “Go right!” I crashed into the wall and yelled back, “What do you mean ‘go right’?!” That was a fun experience. Other than me getting frustrated when I crash for doing something stupid we really don’t get into quad fights. I think he is too happy watching me progress to get upset with me about anything <3

Q. If you and your significant other both fly, how do you balance between the time you spend enjoying the same hobby together, and the time time you spend doing things outside of the hobby?

My dream is to be able to travel the world together and get to a point where I can compete against him. We’ve been to Dubai, New York, and Hawaii together this year alone but it was always to watch him compete. We have two young children. Somehow we manage to squeeze in time to fly, spend time with our girls, and have a date night once in a while ;) As sappy as this is going to sound, I cherish any time we get to spend together <3

Q. Where do you see your future in drones/FPV? What are some goals you would like to accomplish? What accomplishment as far as flying are you most proud of?

I want to race. I want to beat Bapu. I want to podium. I want to show my girls that they can be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do. I am most proud of my progress. I never thought I would be where I am today flying 4-6 hours almost every weekend for 6 months.

I reached out to Bapu to share his thoughts on having the support of Jamie, and her progress so far. "Without Jamie's support, i would have given up on the hobby long time ago lol. This is not only an expensive hobby, but it can be extremely challenging and frustrating, and it demands a lot of your time. A couple of times in the beginning i came close to giving up on the whole thing, but Jamie persuaded me to keep at it, I can truly say without her support I wouldn't have continued in this sport/hobby. I'm just proud about the overall progress Jamie has made in just a few months. She had zero RC experience before, I wasn't even sure if she would get into this FPV thing. Of course in the beginning there were many frustrations, but I'm proud of the fact that she stuck with it, and now she can race on any technical/challenging track we build to practice. I can tell you it took me way longer to get to her skill level which she achieved in just 4 months. She is not preparing for her first official FPV race/event, and i'm confident she will only get better and better. And i feel so lucky to be able to geek out with my significant other, we look forward to flying every weekend, we travel together to events. The FPV life has been just a dream come true to both of us so far!!

For more on Jamie, visit her on social media:

Instagram * Facebook * YouTube

Adaline Lang - AddyZfly

Bio- Adaline (Addy) Lang. 31 years old, north Hollywood CA. I build, tune, and troubleshoot for the local FPV community. I'm an avid pilot and spend all the time I can flying with my buddies. I tend to express myself threw my ship, I'm always flying to music and "dancing" if you will. I also love playing with my footage by editing it to music. There's something special about the creative process, getting the music and timing to match the energy of the flight footage. Check out AddyZfly on YouTube if you wanna see what I mean ;). 

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

I had been flying 3D airplanes for a few months when a friend broke a vortex. I helped him fix it so he let me fly it and I was hooked. That bastard. 

Q. Have you been involved in other RC hobbies or gaming? 

No gaming, but I flew RC airplanes a short time before switching over to drones. 

Q. What is your favorite part about flying? 

Infinite control, playing with weightlessness, and speed. Flying is the ultimate sense of freedom, there's nothing else like it! 

Q. What’s your current set up? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite, or go-to products? 

My setups are crazy fluid, a lot of parts come through my workbench, but I love the hyperlite frame from Piroflip, any f4 flight controller,  Blheli-s esc's, and zmx or hyperlite motors. 

Q. How is/was the build process for you? What is your favorite part of building? What is the biggest challenge? 

Building and playing with new tech is my favorite part of the the process, I consider myself more of a mechanic and builder (or nerd) than a pilot. Sergio at Piroflip has been so supportive and has thrown so many different builds, tunes, repairs, and challenges my way. I love the puzzle of troubleshooting to figuring out what works and what's hot with all of the new technology. 

Q. What would you say to a woman that is interested in joining the Drone/FPV community that may be intimidated by the lack of women involved?

Fuck 'em, just do it. In general, live your life for you and happiness will follow. But the FPV thing has been such an amazing experience, and I'm so grateful for all of the things I've learned, people I've meet, and things I've seen. I'd love to see more women in the community, so get out here and show the boys how it's done!

Q. Do you feel the Drone/FPV community does a good job of reaching out to women, and also the LBGT/transgender community? If so, what are the things you see that are being done to do that, and if not, do you have any ideas of what can be done to reach out?

Since the community doesn't really advertise, I don't think they really reach out to anyone. Everything relies on word of mouth. I've found some groups are very welcoming to LGBTQ folks, and some aren't. I've met some truly wonderful people in the FPV world that have been very considerate and respectful, and I don't mind answering questions whether its about drone stuff or gender stuff as long as you're polite about it.  All and all- I have been very pleasantly surprised by the general acceptance. 

Q. What are the biggest advantages, and disadvantages of being a woman in a predominately male community? 

The biggest advantages are also the biggest disadvantages. People instantly assume I won't be very good or know much off the bat, but they also tend to take notice once they see me fly or help someone with an issue. But hey, I almost always get help loading in, and that's fun. 

Q. Do you feel like there is a higher or lower expectation in regards to performance when you compete in a race? 

I feel like walking in  as a woman I'm expected to fail, let alone a trans woman, but when I do well a lot of people take notice. The bar is set really high for women, but it just makes it that much better when you win. 

Q. How do you feel Drone/FPV companies are doing as far as marketing to women pilots? What do you believe they are doing well? What changes can they make to appeal to more women? 

Stop using 'ripping balls' and other testosterone overdosed things like actually adding balls to your flight controllers ;). Seriously though, I haven't seen any products marketed towards women, but products also don't seem directly marketed towards men either.

Q What would be your advice to a significant other that isn't happy about the constant Build - Fly  - Crash cycle?

Find a new partner!!!

Q. What do you see in the future for drones/FPV? Where do you see women, and their roles as the hobby grows? 

I feel like it's our responsibility as women in the FPV community to try to recruit more women into the sport, and to carve out a place for ourselves, or we won't have one. Nothing would make me happier than to see more and more girls getting out there and building, tuning, and racing. 

Q. Where do you see your future in drones/FPV? What are some goals you would like to accomplish? What accomplishment as far as flying are you most proud of? 

To be honest I love what I do. There is something so special seeing someone's face light up after they fly there quad with a proper tune for the first time. Or I say 4 sentences that help them fix an issue they've been fighting with for months. So I'm gonna keep building, tuning, and fixing for people as long as the demand is there. I'm also gonna try to get my somewhat shy ass to more races ;). 

For more on Addy, visit her on social media:

Instagram * Facebook * YouTube

Contact: Builds, tunes, and troubleshooting- AddyZfly Quad Sevices- 719-966-2324 (Call or text)

Heather McDowell - MsFlashgangster

Bio: Heather McDowell (MsFlashgangster). The first ever female competitive FPV wing pilot. Team pilot for Team Legit and also sponsored by Cobra Motors and APC props. Married to Shane McDowell (Flashgangster). 

Q How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

I originally started building and crashing Flite Test Versa Wings with Shane when he converted to flying fixed wing. 

Q. What initially attracted you to it? 

The first time I saw a wing flying in person I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I wanted one and I was determined to learn how to fly. It was love at first sight. :)

Q. Have you been involved in other RC hobbies or gaming? 

Haha! Not at all. I'm actually pretty horrible at everything else that requires a radio or controller.

Q. How is/was the build process for you? What is your favorite part of building? What is the biggest challenge? 

I love building wings! I've built every one of my wings start to finish. The paint job is my favorite part of wing building, that's where they get their personality. The biggest challenge for me is the tiny motor screws. There's a lot of dropping the screws, losing them, and strings of profanities when I'm installing a motor. Lol

Q. What would you say to a woman that is interested in joining the Drone/FPV community that may be intimidated by the lack of women involved?

f you have an interest in FPV then do it. It doesn't matter if you are male or female, there are plenty of supportive people and groups in our hobby who welcome anyone with an interest.

Q. Do you feel like there is a higher or lower expectation in regards to performance when you compete in a race? 

I think in general there is a lower expectation when it comes to female pilots but there are a few of us who have proved that we can hang with the boys. I actually feel like the guys want me to do well because I'm female. I know that I put extra pressure on myself to do well. I'm always trying to show that I'm not all hype just because I'm the only lady flying wings. My goal is for the guys to see me as legitimate competition. ;) 

For more on Heather, visit her on social media:

Instagram * YouTube

Bailey Goin - Mrs. Awkbots

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Bio: I am Bailey Goin, I am 25 years old and I live in Ohio with my husband AJ Goin, also known as Awkbots. We have 3 adorable Miniature Schnauzers that are truly like our children (they’re waaaay easier too!). I am currently a Project Manager for a non-profit, faith based health system. I absolutely love what I do and working remotely doesn’t hurt either. AJ and I actually just moved to Ohio a few months ago in pursuit of his dreams of becoming a professional drone racer. We were both born and raised in the Lone Star state, Texas. While I miss Texas and my family every day, I wouldn’t trade our move for the world. This move has opened so many doors for the both of us, it is hard to resent Ohio. Crazy right? Of all places. :p

In addition to learning FPV I really enjoy creating things. Whether it is baking, sewing, making wreaths...the list goes on. I love the idea of making things myself, rather than going out and buying something that everyone else already has. Not that there is anything wrong with that. ;) It is just nice to be able to make something in my style and not be limited to the selection on the shelf.

Q. When I first interviewed AJ, he had only been in one race, F3 Expo. Now you both have moved so he could have a career in the FPV community, and he's on DRL. Oh and you got married! Can you tell me what the past year has been like for you both?

It has been one crazy roller coaster ride! If you were to tell me a year ago that we would be living in Ohio and AJ was going to be on tv, I probably would have laughed. Talk about dreaming big! However, now we are here. We loaded up everything we owned and made a 16 hour trek from Texas to Ohio. It has really been amazing for the both of us. AJ is now working for Readymade RC getting to work on drones every day and creating all kinds of great stuff for the company. I ended up leaving my job in Texas which led me to an even better opportunity in Ohio and I just love it! I get to work from home and really utilize my strengths, which I really wasn’t able to do at my old job. I’m excited to see what happens next!

Q. It's always important to support the ones you love. How do you try to support AJ as he competes, and travels for races?

Oh you know…drone retrieval when he’s practicing out in the fields, searching for lost Go Pros after a big crash, charging batteries…the usual ;). It definitely isn’t always easy. AJ will get into these modes where he is SUPER focused on drones and drones only. Then for the next few weeks our free time only consists on drones.

Q. I’ve had a lot of men ask me how they can get their significant others involved in flying. What would be your advice to them?

AJ is a pro at getting me to try his hobbies. He grew up riding dirt bikes, so when he wanted me to get into it he took me shopping. There’s your key! I was able to get some cute gear, boots, helmet, goggles, the works. Those things really motivated me and got me excited to learn to ride. This is the same for quads. What did I get last year for Christmas (even though I asked for a Kitchen Aid mixer ;))? I got a MQX FPV micro quad. Every girl’s dream right? The way he was so supportive in teaching me to fly and would brag to his friends really encouraged me to keep going at this hobby. Not to mention his friends were really supportive too!

Q. I’ve had my share of “quad fights” with my boyfriend. We don’t agree on how to build something, or we may disagree on a certain product or method of learning. I know AJ taught you how to fly. Have you experienced that as well?

We really don’t fight, because he has so much more experience than I do, so I trust his advice. Lol However, he can get on my nerves when he wants me to fly a certain way or practice a certain way and I just don’t agree. It’s not because he doesn’t know what he is talking about. He just forgets to consider that we learn in different ways. He is more of a “research crazy hard about a subject and really learn all the insides and outs” and I am more of a “let’s take it slow and learn as I go, no pressure I am supposed to have fun”. Haha. Our personalities do get in the way of each other at times, but it is also what makes us work. I can’t imagine if we were 2 AJs or 2 Baileys, we would never get anywhere! :p

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Kim Barrows - FPVFlyGirl

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Bio: A girl, a drone, and a dream :) I started flying as a way to distract myself from life and now it's become a way of life. If I'm not flying, chances are I'm looking at Instagram, YouTube or some other drone site...or thinking about flying. When I'm not doing something drone related, chances are I'm taking pictures of sock monkeys. I've made some great friends along the way and I'm looking forward to the next chapter in this adventure.

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

My best friend got a toy drone and I thought it was pretty cool. Then he got a 550 Hex and I would spot for him when he flew that.  A few months later, I was building a DJI Flamewheel 450.

Q. What initially attracted you to it? 

I am absolutely terrified of heights but love the view from the skies.  Now I can fly like a bird and never leave the ground. How cool is that?

Q. Have you been involved in other RC hobbies or gaming? 

I used to watch RC car races as a kid and even was a turn marshal at the local fairgrounds in junior high during their races.  Only took one car crashing into my ankle bone to know that wasn’t the job for me when I grew up.

I was never a huge gamer unless it was Mario Kart or Tetris.  However, once I started flying, it didn’t take long to realize that I had a slight problem getting my thumbs to do two different things at once. So, my best friend mentioned I should get into playing COD.  The next thing you know I am buying an Xbox 360 and playing older versions of Call of Duty, which actually worked.  Then Titan Fall came out and I lost two weeks of my life, lol.

Q. What’s your current set up? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite, or go-to products?

My favorite go-to copter is a knock-off of a Flamewheel.  It was super cheap and that thing is a beast.  I have bashed into trees, concrete, playground equipment and it just keeps on ticking.  It is not unusual for me to hear someone comment “I don’t know how you kept flying after that crash”.  Needless to say, I have a few back-ups of that frame on standby.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for camera tilt on the frame, so eventually I will have to graduate to a big-girl copter like the Hellbender that is under construction.

Q. How is/was the build process for you? What is your favorite part of building? What is the biggest challenge?

I learned to solder, but I am really bad at it.  All my solder joints are pretty “pointy” or really blobby. I like the assembly portion of the build much better.  And I am a tad OCD, so I like all my zip-ties and heat shrink to coordinate.  I tend to outsource some of my builds in exchange for free dinners.  So far, that system has been working pretty well.

Q. Where was, or is, your absolute favorite place to fly? 

We have a few local parks that I am quite fond of because they have lots of trees to zip through combined with open spaces where I am learning to flip and roll.  But my absolute favorite is flying empty playground equipment at a local park at night.  Any time someone hits it, you hear a very loud *DING* followed by a chorus of “nooooo sir!” 

Q. There is an increasing number of women that are starting to fly, but the field is still predominately male. What would you say is the biggest reason for that?

RC sports in general have historically been male driven.  I had a conversation with a middle school teacher at the F3 Expo last year about the lack of girls in high school STEM programs and also in RC/Robotics.  When girls are younger, it’s socially acceptable to be a tomboy and play with cars and be into math and science.  And then junior high arrives and you risk being a social outcast if you choose to stay after school to build a robot as opposed to going to the mall with your friends.  So we force girls to make a choice – either you can be in with the “cool” crowd OR you can be involved with things like drones.  They should not have to make that choice.  And unfortunately, I place some of that blame on toy manufacturers like Lego and Nerf that feel the need to create “girl” versions of their classic toys that immediately have to be pink.  I played with Legos and Nerf when I was a kid – I never thought of it as a boys’ toy – it was just a toy.

Q. What would you say to a woman that is interested in joining the Drone/FPV community that may be intimidated by the lack of women involved?

Don’t be afraid to be the only woman in your area.  I am currently the only girl in our MultiGP chapter, and although I would like to have other women involved, I am not going to let that stop me.  Ask questions, read forums, watch YouTube videos.  I am affectionately known as a “FliteTest fangirl” in our local group.  If you go to local fly spots, ask to go on a ride along in the goggles.  

Q. Do you feel the Drone/FPV community does a good job of reaching out to women? If so, what are the things you see that are being done to do that, and if not, do you have any ideas of what can be done to reach out?

A:  I don’t know if the community necessarily “reaches out” per se, but I will say once they know you are there, they tend to be supportive.  Sometimes, you have to be the one to reach out.  You can’t stand on the sidelines and just hope they will notice you like a wallflower at a dance.  You have to let them know you are there.  

Q. What are the biggest advantages, and disadvantages of being a woman in a predominately male community?

Bathrooms.  I am not even kidding.  I fly with a group of guys that have no problems picking a fly spot in the middle of a field.  Well, that’s great for those of you that can just go behind a tree.  Personally, I like an actual toilet and a sink to wash my hands.  What can I say? Boys are gross. 

As far as advantages – for me, the group of guys I have locally are so very supportive of what I am doing.  I am not sure if it’s because I am a woman though – half the time, I think they forget I AM a female.  When we fly, I am just “one of the guys”.  

Q. Do you feel like there is a higher or lower expectation in regards to performance when you compete in a race?

I think in general, people may have lower expectations of female pilots. You know, “you fly like a girl”, “you throw like a girl”, etc.  But for me personally, I have higher expectations because I feel like I have something to prove.

Q. How do you feel Drone/FPV companies are doing as far as marketing to women pilots? What do you believe they are doing well? What changes can they make to appeal to more women?

Is there marketing to female pilots??   I know a few companies are finally making shirts in female sizing, so that’s a start.  And purple props – I am all about some purple.

Q. I’ve heard a lot of men ask me how they can get their significant others involved in flying. What would be your advice to them?

Have her be your visual observer/spotter for a while.  If that doesn’t make her want to fly, she might not ever be into flying itself.  And that is okay – we have a few local guys that bring their significant others to races and I think some of them really dig it.  Just because she doesn’t want to actually FLY doesn’t mean she wouldn’t want to watch you fly.  There are lots of other activities that are part of flying – editing videos or taking pictures, for example.  I love to take pictures of other pilots while they are flying.

Q. I’ve had my share of “quad fights” with my boyfriend. We don’t agree on how to build something, or we may disagree on a certain product or method of learning. Have any of you experienced that as well?

My best friend that I do most of my flying and building with is male.  And yes, we have had a few ‘quad fights’.  When I first started out, I would have all these questions and instead of just answering them, he would say things like “you know this, what do you think it is?” and I would just get frustrated because I wouldn’t ask the question if I didn’t know the answer, right?  Well, turns out, I also lacked the confidence in what I DID know, so in the long run, it helped.  But in the short term, it aggravated the hell out of me.

Q. What do you see in the future for drones/FPV? Where do you see women, and their roles as the hobby grows?

I would love to see an increase in the practical commercial applications of drones – particularly in law enforcement and fire/rescue departments. 

As for women – we need to get more into the hobby if we hope to see any advancement in careers in the future.  

Q. Where do you see your future in drones/FPV? What are some goals you would like to accomplish? What accomplishment as far as flying are you most proud of?

When I first kicked off my Instagram and blog page a year ago, my goal was to compete in this year’s F3 Expo.  My skill level isn’t there yet, so the new goal is by end of 2017.  Part of the problem was my own hesitation to get out of angle mode and into acro mode.  I recently started flying in horizon mode, so I am getting there.  I was super excited about my first flips and rolls, even though they looked horrible in the video. 

But, I think my proudest accomplishment was when I was asked to be a guest on the FPV Podcast. As a result of that, I have a regular "Tip of the week" segment on their podcast, which is pretty cool since I'm basically a noob myself.  And that was part of the idea.  To share tidbits in under thirty seconds that both new and seasoned pilots might appreciate. 

I was also part of a local news story about the local drone racing scene and they seemed pretty excited that I was the only girl, so that was a neat experience to get that kind of recognition. It's also pretty funny because I'm wearing a quadcopter shirt that says "my eyes are up here" which the cameraman found pretty hilarious. 

I'm also pretty stoked about Instagram.  I recently hit the 2,000 followers mark and that just blows me away. This started as a little project – as a way to hold myself accountable as I worked toward the long term goal of competing in something like F3. I still can’t believe that people actually want to be a part of that and I appreciate it so much.

For more on Kim, visit her on social media:

Instagram * Facebook * Tumblr

Juli Müller - Julifpv

Bio - My name is Juli Müller and I am from Germany. I work as a freelance translator for English, Spanish and German which helps me to be able to travel a lot around the world and to communicate with different people. I have been flying quads since October 2015 and love the opportunities and friendships it brings me – it opened a whole new world to me!

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

I started flying quads with my boyfriend last year. We got inspired by several videos on YouTube.

Q. Have you been involved in other RC hobbies or gaming? 

I’ve never been involved into other RC hobbies – well as a child I had a little RC car that could climb on objects using a winch. Gaming has never been my hobby but I loved to play some computer games or Nintendo Wii.

Q. How often do you fly? 

Usually every weekend as long it’s not raining. My boyfriend and I use to meet our FPV friends on Saturday and Sunday and then we fly some freestyle locations or build a race track to practice.

Q. What’s your current set up? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite, or go-to products? 

I build all my quads on my own. I fly a self-made frame (by the German champion) and an EvoX frame (by Artfantasie). I love the KISS FC and the KISS ESCs (24A) in combination with the Brotherhobby motors (2300kV). My favorite propellers are HQ, my favorite LiPos are from Tattu.
As goggles I use the Dominator V2 with a LaForge module.

Q. How is/was the build process for you? What is your favorite part of building? What is the biggest challenge? 

When I started flying building was the most horrible thing for me. In the meantime I learned to understand how a quad works and I kind of enjoy building. My favorite part is soldering – although yesterday I burnt my finger badly… haha… own stupidity.
What I definitely hate are cables – they always make a mess!

Q. What would you say to a woman that is interested in joining the Drone/FPV community that may be intimidated by the lack of women involved?

That she should not be intimidated! She should do what she wants no matter the circumstances. We can’t complain about a fact if we aren’t willing to be one of the first that can change it. All the brave females should go out and pave the way as ambassadors! 

Q. Do you feel like there is a higher or lower expectation in regards to performance when you compete in a race? 

I think there is a lower expectation just because people have not seen that many women at races – therefore their brains tell them that women maybe don’t practice that often. But again – that’s not a disadvantage! ;) I’ve never finished last at a race!

Q. I’ve had my share of “quad fights” with my boyfriend. We don’t agree on how to build something, or we may disagree on a certain product or method of learning. Have any of you experienced that as well? 

We rarely disagree on how to build a quad – but well… thinking about that… I always need a perfect clean build, he thinks practical and just wants it to fly. Haha.
Regarding methods of learning… we don’t really disagree but if he gives me advise I usually don’t accept it. It’s like when your parents tell you what to do and you do the exact difference…
Some days afterwards I then think about the advice and accept it secretly… :P

Q. What do you see in the future for drones/FPV? Where do you see women, and their roles as the hobby grows? 

I think they can have the same role as men. If they want to compete in races – why not? I hope some female teams will pop up next year to lay into the male-dominating field. No matter the gender – everybody should just do what he wants and feels. Some want to get professional racer, some may want to freestyle and become known on YouTube and some just want to fly on their own. As the evolution will be fast we all have the change to be the change or get the role we want to have.

Q. Where do you see your future in drones/FPV? What are some goals you would like to accomplish? What accomplishment as far as flying are you most proud of?

I want to pave the way for females in the community and in the sport. I would like to have a female racing team and show the world how awesome the sport is.
My last year has already been a blast – I was racing in London, Paris and even in South Korea and one of my highlight was filming an advertisement for the Royal Ascot.
So yes – it would be great to get more and more professional!

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For more on Juli, visit her on social media:

Instagram * Facebook * YouTube 

Teng Ma - Junebugfpv - Mrs. Nytfury

Bio: Teng Ma, born in China, live in Albuquerque, NM. Wife, law student, drone racer. I'm obsessed with dogs. I love reading, decorating, and Spanish.

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

Ever since Shaun started flying, he had always wanted me to fly with him. But like many other pilot wives out there, I had way too much on my plate to even consider it. But as the sport grew, Shaun and I spent more and more time apart. I finally decided to become a pilot because I wanted to spend more time with Shaun. But now, I am hooked. I find myself thinking about drone racing all the time, and I just cannot get enough of it.

Q. Have you been involved in other RC hobbies or gaming?

Nope, nothing. I actually hated video games and banned it in our house lol. (Long story, I can tell you more later. But basically, Shaun and I met in 2005, right about the time my parents were going through a nasty divorce. For the past 10 years, Shaun and I raised my brother Marshall, from age 8-18. Marshall recently moved out for college. He is a freshman at USC and is also an amazing pianist. He is our pride and joy. But the hardest years we had with him was when his was in middle school, and his video-game-playing became excessive. It got so bad that I had to ban it completely in our house)

Q. What is your favorite part about flying?

The traveling. Shaun and I have not taken a vacation in 9 years. I can’t believe how many amazing places we have traveled to for drone races.

Q. How often do you fly?

If everything goes well in school, I get about one day per week to fly. But most of the time, I only get one or two days per month. It sucks, but right now, I have to prioritize school.

Q. What’s your current set up? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite, or go-to products?

Darkside ARC200 Frame, CC3D Revo FC, AIKON20A BLHeliS ESCs, Turnigy 1177 Cam, Quanum 200mw vtx, RK 5040X3 props, Graphene 1500 MAH4S Battery, FRSky XSR RX, Viking 2206/2600 KV motors

Q. How is/was the build process for you? What is your favorite part of building? What is the biggest challenge?

The build process is easy with the help of Shaun lol. But seriously, it takes me about two hours to finish an entire quad all on my own. With Shaun’s help, I could probably finish an entire quad under an hour. My favorite part is soldering. My family owns a jewelry supply business (where Shaun worked before becoming a firefighter), so I actually have extensive experience with soldering. Even though my soldering experience was with a propane/oxy setup, it was enough for me to feel comfortable working with heat and other forms of soldering.

Fun fact, the silicone mat that HobbyKing gave us for our work bench is identical to the jewelry-making mat I have, just in a different color.

Q. There is an increasing number of women that are starting to fly, but the field is still predominately male. What would you say is the biggest reason for that?

The barrier to entry. Learning to fly is not too hard but learning all the other aspects of this sport is. This sport requires a great amount of collaborative work, and when the entire community is male, it is extremely intimidating for a woman to ask for help. So it is a vicious cycle; the bigger the community of men, the more intimidating the community becomes for women. This is why I am curious to see the future of DRL. They have taken the building aspect out completely and are showcasing only pilot skill. I think DRL can be a launch pad for many women pilots, and maybe even open the door to a community that is more inclusive of women.

Q. What would you say to a woman that is interested in joining the Drone/FPV community that may be intimidated by the lack of women involved?

Find a friend. Not someone that lives across the country on Facebook, but someone you can meet up with. Don’t worry about the fact that you both won’t know what you are doing, you guys can learn everything together. The learning curve is steep, and there will be arguments and fights. Find someone that you can count on no matter what; someone that will answer your call even after a fight lol.

Example: I remember shaking my head every time Shaun and Sean Stanford(stevie1dur) went out to fly. I thought to myself “they are terrible, they don’t know what they are doing, and they are never gonna get fast,” but look where they are now! They have competed against each other, traveled to different countries together, and most importantly, learned from each other. Even though Sean has decided to focus more on his car business, they are still great friends! He still comes over and harass Shaun every chance he gets lol.

Q. Do you feel the Drone/FPV community does a good job of reaching out to women? If so, what are the things you see that are being done to do that, and if not, do you have any ideas of what can be done to reach out?

I think the FPV community have been doing a good job. The few women that are racing have gotten nothing but positive media attention. There is always more that the community could do, but at the same time, I don’t want there to be a bias. Women shouldn’t need more help than men getting started; we don’t need training wheels. Any woman is perfectly capable of becoming interested on her own, and getting fast on her own..

Q. Do you feel like there is a higher or lower expectation in regards to performance when you compete in a race?

I feel like the expectation is higher. Some people expects me to be good because they think I fly with Shaun everyday, and some people expects me to be good because they think Shaun shows me all the “tricks.” The truth is, I’m lucky if I get to fly once a week, and there are just no shortcuts to becoming a good pilot.

Q. How do you feel Drone/FPV companies are doing as far as marketing to women pilots? What do you believe they are doing well? What changes can they make to appeal to more women?

I think the drone companies are doing fine. I definitely don’t think they should start making things in pink or anything like that lol. I mean motors and props are for flying, not for a fashion show. Have you seen those pink tool sets at hardware stores? They are terrible! Lol.

Toy companies on the other hand can do a little better. If you look at the commercials for drone toys, they are all targeted towards little boys! They need to feature boys AND girls in those commercials! Kids are much more sensitive to these types of bias than adults; IMO, this is how gender bias is formed.

Q. I’ve heard a lot of men ask me how they can get their significant others involved in flying. What would be your advice to them?

I came up with a 3-step process lol:

Don’t take her “no” at face value. Think about the first time a kid learns piano, or anything that has a steep learning curve. It is hard to say “yes” right away to something that requires so much work and time.

Help her! It is going to take some of your time to get her to the point where she can do stuff on her own. But there is a tipping point, once that point is reached, not only will she be able to do her own thing, she will actually be able to help you!

Find the new normal. Now that she can fly and even occasionally help you fix your quad, you need to help her with other things; things that she had to give up now that she is flying more. You know what those are!

Q. I’ve had my share of “quad fights” with my boyfriend. We don’t agree on how to build something, or we may disagree on a certain product or method of learning. Have any of you experienced that as well?

Oh yes! Sometimes Shaun will talk to me while I am flying, if I crash during that, I just give him that look of “you just made me crash!” If he offers me parts for my quad that are different from what he is using, I would always say: “why you are trying to hold me back!” lol. But hey, if two can build quads together and stay together, they can probably get through anything in life lol.

Q. What do you see in the future for drones/FPV? Where do you see women, and their roles as the hobby grows?

I see the future of drone racing in many forms; in live race, post-production race, on-line interactive sim race, and a mix of some or all. I think in the next few years, all different forms will do well enough to gain sufficient viewers to grow the sport as a whole. One league will dominate, but it will not be because of its chosen form, but because of the people involved in the league. Every race, every production, people are not just watching; they are tweeting, following, and blogging. It is not just about the number of viewers on TV anymore and the league that dominates will not just be the league with the most money. In my opinion, the most successful league will be one that chooses what is right over what is easy. A league that will not inhibit the growth of this sport. A league that will choose sportsmanship over drama. A league that will always choose pilots over profits.

I see women in this sport in every aspect. I see women pilots, women directors, women coaches, and women commentators.

Q. I believe you recently graduated from law school. How have you found the time to learn how to fly?

I am actually in my last year of law school. Like I previously mentioned, I hardly get anytime to fly. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I even learned. The first two years of law school was insanely stressful, I didn’t even have time to eat everyday. I guess I used every little chance to fly as a form of release and made the most out of it.  

Q. Shaun has talked about how supportive you are of his career. What advice would you give someone that has a significant other that would also like to pursue FPV as a profession?

Don’t do anything crazy. There is no rush. What I love about this sport is that there is no deadline. Unlike football where you have to be drafted by a certain age, you can fly FPV as long as you want. So don’t rush into any decision that will make you resent this sport. We love this sport too much to have people resenting it.

I know everyone have talked about the “craziness” of Shaun quitting his job, but the truth is, if people knew about the life we have lived up to this point, people will understand when I say, Shaun quitting his job for drone racing was probably the first “normal” thing we did as a couple. Shaun and I had an unconventional life before drone racing; so “crazy” decisions doesn’t seem so crazy to us. We have dealt with uncertainties plenty of times before, so we are prepared for the uncertainties of this sport. But if you have had a pretty “normal” life, you will need to figure out how you will cope with uncertainties, mentally and financially, before jumping into this sport full time.

Timing is everything. You don’t have to quit your job today. Because when you are truly ready, you won’t even need to ask anyone, you will just know. It is not going to be easy to stay competitive without quitting your job, but you CAN do it. Shaun told the story on QuadTalk about us driving home after his win at the Diablo stadium in Tempe. We got home around 4am, and Shaun had a 24hr-shift starting at 9am that same day. The day he knew he was ready to commit 100% to was the final day of DR1. It was not anything in particular that triggered it, but a combination of everything that have led up to that point, he just knew. When you are truly ready, you too will just know!

For more on Teng, visit her on social media: 
Instagram

Katie Scholz

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Bio: I'm from Tempe, Az. I live at the beach in Los Angeles, CA. I work in the TV/Film industry. I have other nerdy hobbies too like swing dancing. I like crashing my vortex in the park, triple espressos on ice, and Bourbon Mules. ;-) 

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

To be honest it was my ex who got into them first. 

Q. What initially attracted you to it?

The newness of the sport/ hobby. The Wild Wild West.  

Q. You're a partner at Aerial GP, can you share about what you guys do, and how it first started? 

Aerial Grand Prix was the first FPV racing league founded in April of 2014 when Ryo Rex, Sven Tusak and I were working on a TV show that took us out to the Long Beach Grand Prix to shoot. Ryo and Sven were both flying quads at the time and when we spent the day at the race track, the three of us could not stop talking about racing the quads. That night we started thinking about names and looking on the internet for anyone else doing it. There were a couple guys in Australia racing around a field. 

I think in the next few weeks Ryo and Sven had perfected the pool noodle arch gate (which at one point looked like a football field goal).

And then it seamed like in the blink of an eye, we had professional Aerial GP gates and flags delivered to our 22 chapters around the world, and standardized rules for everyone to follow. 

And later as the world of FPV grew (in my opinion) many chapters felt they should start their own league or they were convinced to join another group who would let them hold races in their respective countries in order to be a part of a world race. So today we may not have all the chapters but we still count every single one as our close friends who we look forward to seeing at other races. 

This year we had the great honor of being the chief advisors to the World Drone Prix. We worked side by side with the Dubai government to through the largest drone race on earth. Many of our ideas were implemented like the long format race, pit stop, battery swap, having 3-4 crew members with each pilot, plus advising the track not be made of metal. The beautiful track was made of wood and foam core. When it was complete I got to have an FPV tour of the track and I actually cried. It was the closest thing to our dream track and built less than 2 years after we formed AGP. It was a great moment. 

Today we are still throwing races and consulting on races. Look to Asia in 2017. ;-)

Q There are not very women involved in race production and organization. Did you face any challenges when you first started, and do you still face challenges as a woman in the field now? 

Not sure if it has anything to do with being a women but the only challenge I have ever faced has been convincing people who's race I'm working on that their event time table is wrong. Coming from the world of film production where I've learned underestimating a production timeline can be very problematic as well as costly. But, some need to make the mistake for themselves, while some still haven't learned.

Q. What has been your favorite race location? 

Austria and Spain. Yummy food, handsome men!

Q. What would you say to a woman that is interested in joining the Drone/FPV community that may be intimidated by the lack of women involved?

If you're intimated by men then maybe you have to get some girls together for a soldering party. I'd totally go to that. But this isn't really a sport for the intimidate-able, guys or girls. Crash crash crash, practice makes perfect.

Q. What do you see in the future for drones/FPV? Where do you see women, and their roles as the hobby grows? 

The future is what I'm most excited about. I call the drone world the Wild Wild West because we can shape it anyway we want. It's happening in front of our eyes. And everybody can have any role they want. 

Q. Where do you see your future in drones/FPV? What are some goals you would like to accomplish? What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

I would like to continue throwing races around the world. My goal is to throw a race with giant drones. 

I am most proud of our last race at the Velodrome in Los Angeles, CA. We used our signature long format race including pit stop. And we had special trophies for winning pilot and pit crews. We had ample time for practice, quarters, semis, and finals. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

When it comes to throwing a race, my main requirements are : Safety for pilots and spectators, that all pilots can say it was a fair race for everyone no matter what the outcome, and is it fun? aka how organized is it and how many packs per day are they flying?

I love it when a race goes well and no matter the outcome people truly had fun because they had a fair chance, got in some good racing time and everyone leaves with a smile on their face and a bunch of new friends. 

Learn more about Aerial GP

Sara Vickers - BOO FPV

Bio: My name is Sara (BOO FPV). I am a 46 and a housewife from North Devon UK. I have a wonderful partner Matt and we have two beautiful girls Ellie (16) and Evie (4.) I am one of the organisers for This is Thunderderone Racing, and I love FPV and Flying.

Q. How did you get started in Drones/FPV?

A. I have been flying for about 7 months although I have been living with Drones and FPV for the last couple of years because of Matt and our friends. And when the lads (whenever I mention the lads I mean Matt, BrimzUK and Tim) went to Dubai to compete it put a whole different level on it for me, I was hooked!!! I found as many feeds to watch as I could, constantly trying to find results and information and at some points, I think I knew more about what was going on that they did and they were there. lol

Q. What initially attracted you to it?

At first, I just looked at it as the new toy for the boys, because they had been racing RC cars for a few years and regularly set up tracks in local village halls. It soon became obvious that it had become a new obsession and I knew the cars would be left forever. RIP RC Cars!!! When we organised our event in April, I only planned to go along and just get out for the day but the lads were a little unorganised so I stepped up and helped them. Lots of running around registering people for the event and handing out transponders for the timing system (not that I knew what they were at the time) needless to say I had the time of my life and I felt like I got the old me back. That's when I thought if you can't beat 'em join 'em and Matt made me a drone.

Q. How often do you fly?

I fly as much as I can but it can be difficult to find time with having children. Our four-year-old Evie loves it she comes out with us all the time and loves helping to set up the track. I can't fly as much as I would like but I do as much as I can.

Q. What’s your current setup? What have you used in the past? Do you have any favorite or go-to products?

My current setup is a Shrike clone which I helped to design the arms with buttercup shape ends. Seriously Pro F3 Flight controller Flycolor Raptor 30A ESC Emax MT2204 2300kv motors 5" DAL Triblade props Multistar 1400mah 3s Runcam Swift Camera Quanum Q58 VTX Quanum Cyclops Goggles Turnigy 9XR Transmitter

Q. How is/was the build process for you? What is your favorite part of the building? What is the biggest challenge?

I have, to be honest, I haven't built my drone I have a wonderful partner who built it for me just because he wanted me to fly with him. I will be learning over the winter months and I do know all the parts and the basics of what is involved. I have had people say to me that I am not a real pilot because I haven't built it myself.

Q. There is an increasing number of women that are starting to fly, but the field is still predominately male. What would you say is the biggest reason for that?

I am the only woman in our group of friends that fly's, all of the other wives or girlfriends would rather not be involved or moan about it.... But hey why be a drone widow.

Q. What are the biggest advantages, and disadvantages of being a woman in a predominately male community?

I have found no problems being a woman in the FPV community, everyone is lovely to me. But everyone in the UK community seems to get along really well and there is such a lot of support. Most of the people I have spoken to think that it is brilliant that a girlfriend is there let alone flying. I hear a lot of wish my girlfriend would be up for it.

Q. What do you see in the future for drones/FPV? Where do you see women and their roles as the hobby grows?

It's a question of getting the women involved. We have some amazing women already in the community to look up to like Zoe Stumbaugh and Juli FPV. I think all the men need to encourage their partners to try it and we might see more women involved. All the roles in FPV racing can be done by a woman or a man it's just getting them to like it.

Q. Where do you see your future in drones/FPV? What are some goals you would like to accomplish? What accomplishment as far as flying are you most proud of?

Where would i like to see my future in drones..... I want to race with the Best....

For more on Sara, visit her on social media:

Instagram

Closing the Gap

Yes Virginia, there are women that love FPV and drones, and they are a pretty amazing group. It has truly been an honor and privilege to speak to these wonderful ladies. There are so many more out there that should be recognized, and I wish I could have included everyone. Closing the gap between men and woman in Drones and FPV is happening, and with that comes new perspectives, backgrounds, and stories. The point of the blog was to highlight women, but sex aside, the passion, drive, and care is all the same. The use of drones as a thrill, escape, a method of expression, or a way to change the world is universal, and hopefully the community will continue to support anyone that is interested in being a part of it.

Happy Flying...

 

 

 

 

Drone Worlds 2016: A Post Mortem

By Kathleen Hickey

There has been a lot said about the Drone Nationals, and the Drone Worlds. Some people think we should stay silent for the good of the sport. Sponsors don't want to get their hands dirty, and put their money into events that are publicly trashed by the people that attended them. Some people think there should be brutal honesty. They want embarrass the organizers, or vent because they are angry due to their own experiences. Some want to make conditions and events better in the future by calling out what has happened in the past. So which is the right thing to do? Let's take a look and see what went wrong, what went right, and you can decide on your own answer. 

Drone Nationals 2016

To have a better understanding of what happened at Worlds, it's worth taking a look back at Drone Nationals which took place on Governors Island in NYC August 5-7. Nationals was set up to be one of the most exciting races the FPV community had seen to date. Both Nationals and Worlds are events by The Drone Sports Association (DSA). Drone racing would be featured live, for the first time on ESPN. There were huge sponsors like GoPro, and AIG that were attached to the race. Pilots throughout the United Stated competed to qualify for the event. The thought of having a huge race, with incredible pilots, in an amazing location was inspiring. In a time when some pilots are making drone racing a career, the idea of being seen on ESPN, with household names sponsoring the event made it monumental, and for some possibly life changing.

As race day grew nearer there were more pilot chats, and conversations on Facebook and other social media about logistics. Governors Island is only accessible by ferry. There were questions about which ferry boat to take, on which side of the island. The location gave way to wonder how DSA would be able to assemble a race, with media, pilots, tents, and technology by ferry boat. Joe Scully, Race Director for FPV Racing Events explained his own frustrations with the transportation when he arrived in New York. "My week started off rough; we arrived 9 minutes late for our booked ferry on Wednesday because our GPS took us in circles in that area of New York. Knowing we’d be pushing it, I called one of the logistics people of US Drone Nationals and asked, “what happens if we miss our booked ferry?” The answer being “You get on the next one”. There was no next one, the schedule posted on the website was for Thursday onwards, we had unintentionally booked the last ferry of the day on Wednesday." But when Joe reached the island the next morning, the transportation issues seemed to now be minor in the face of larger issues. "Thursday morning at 7am we went onto the island for the first time; we were a bit stressed as practice was to begin at noon, and we had a lot of setup to do for the ground stations. When we drove around the corner of field my jaw dropped; there was no race course." As Joe and his team struggled to have the proper equipment which was requested, available to them to set up ground stations, practice days turned into a race day that was not ready for a live broadcast. "Saturday morning I scoured the island and after about 2 hours, I found a skyjack through the help of a volunteer and we moved it into position. After struggling for another 4 hours we had the receivers wired in properly and were ready to race… at 1pm on Saturday, as opposed to 12pm on Thursday. The event began to run smoother (now that video issues had been solved), and then video issues hit hard again. The livestream was using the equivalent of Race Band 6 for their connection to the mainland! We dropped that seat. We also had to drop the equivalent of Race Band 3 as the government buildings were connected to the mainland on a point-to-point losing that seat. Into Sunday, we had even more problems as the livestream had video issues, and moved to the middle of the equivalent of Race Band 5 and 6, and we dropped another seat. We had 5 usable channels." So what was the breaking point of the Drone Nationals? According to Joe, it was seemed much to do with lack of organization and communication. "The build being 1.5 days behind was the biggest thing to go wrong. Leadership not taking advice from their team or contractors was the second largest thing. We could have had the Video Issues solved by Friday Morning had our simple request been addressed."

The Break In Between

After Drone Nationals came a wave of negativity, and frustration from the FPV community. There were complaints about practice time, or lack of it. The course was changed from practice day to the actual qualifier, which made it a challenge for pilots that rely on the practice to help remember the course layout. There were pilots calling each other out on social media, with some feeling like they had to defend themselves, or each other. There were scoring questions, and timing questions that left some pilots feeling cheated, while others vindicated.

At the same time pilots from around the world had spent time and money qualifying for the Worlds, in Hawaii. Chad Nowak (FinalGlideAus) who is the 2015 Nationals Champion, and 2016 Nationals Freestyle Champion decided to withdraw from the Drone Worlds competition after his experience at Nationals. "I have been involved with the the Drone Nationals and what ended up being DSA since nearly the start of things. I was involved both in the public side, and behind the scenes to a certain degree, and things began to focus more on the politics and sponsors (money and power) rather than on the pilots and the races. This gave me many concerns about how the pilots and the whole community would be treated in the long term and this was confirmed at the NY Drone Nationals 2016, and after some thinking I decided to distance myself by not competing (in Drone Worlds)." During the Nationals competition there was an alleged comment that DSA had made about the sponsors being the most important part of the race, which was a comment that did not go over well with pilots that already felt slighted. After Nationals there were changes in DSA, which saw a loss of some of its team. Many wondered if there would be lessons learned in the organization that would make for a better Worlds. Tickets had been bought, and accommodations had been made. Pilots from all over the world would be on their way to Hawaii just 2 months after Nationals. 

Drone Worlds

The Worlds competition was set to start with the Aloha Cup, which was the last official qualifier for Drone Worlds on October 18-19, with the World Championship taking place from October 20-22. Both were plagued with wind, rain, and bad weather, cutting flight time significantly. The contingency plan for the rain was apparently to cut qualifiers. After looking at several weather site, October on average was the 5th most rainy month of the year on Oahu. Organizers seem to put a lot of emphasis on not knowing about the rain and weather, which does not make sense when we are talking about Hawaii in October. 

Joe Scully did not participate in Drone Worlds, but feels that the weather was not as big of an issue as the technology and timing systems used. "My personal feeling about what went wrong in Hawaii however stems back to TBS and VAS. Yes, the event had issues, but the biggest complaint was because of the lack of track time and mass confusion. This all was to be solved by running 2 simultaneous flight lines (IRC and I were prepared to run 4). VAS pulled off a stunt that allowed 16 quads on the same track, and inferred that it could be done in Hawaii. To do that, he required: low power, solid antenna, no diversity, corner of field and alternating polarity. In Hawaii, they did all 16 ground stations 300’ apart between the flight lines on the same polarity. He would have known that wouldn’t work. MultiGP had 3 going 3/4 of a mile a part and I had 2 going 1,400 feet apart… but 300’ was suicide, especially on the same polarity. TBS instructed DSA that their timing system ran the MultiGP Champs (it did not, it only was 3rd backup redundancy and we used it 3 times over the entire event to verify 3 individual laps). It is in beta and kept frying… they blame the weather, but the systems kept getting soaked and frying. I use the analogy of sticking a finger into a wall socket; you don’t put your other finger in the wall socket. They also used a qualifying format that the software didn’t run automatically, which caused a lot of delays for manual execution, PLUS on top of that there were no print outs, so even now, people don’t know their lap-by-lap times for their 3 (of 9 promised) qualifying rounds used to seed them. With the issues, they reverted to stopwatches on phones for a number of heats, which scares me on the accuracy - if (0.2) two-tenths of a second separate 32nd and 33rd (the break-off) and it’s based on 3 laps, that’s 0.066/lap difference… while some times were RSSI based and some were stopwatch based.
Had the 2nd flight line worked, the event would not have had the lynch mob."

The "lynch mob" Joe may be referring to is a meeting that took place after it was determined that the promised qualifying rounds would not be able to take place, and pilots would have to settle with three laps. The meeting was captured, and posted by pilot Paul Nurkkala (Bulbufet FPV)

Besides the technical issues, there were also inconsistencies in judging, which seemed to be apparent in both the race, and freestyle competitions. Jay von Brimer, a judge at Worlds shared his experience. "From my judging view, I saw many inconsistencies, which equals unfairness. Some were given time to fix video channel problems, while others were ordered to unplug, and disqualified for having video problems...There was a minimal meeting explaining the judging, but we had new ones joining and people switching, which made it inconsistent. We oversaw ourselves, but truly did our best to remain accurate and objective."

In the freestyle competition, pilots took turns judging each other in the same competition they were competing against each other in. At the end of the competition, there was talk that one judge had scored all of the pilots significantly low. Jay shared his thoughts on the system. "The freestyle judging is a different story. Pilots judging the freestyle can work, only IF they will give an honest score. That one ended up with possibly a single pilot giving bad scores to everyone, to serve himself. Shouldn't have that much effect, as the other scores will cancel it out."

Danny Chan, was in first place for freestyle after the first day. He had spent the entire day in the freestyle tent assisting with the judging, as other pilots were shuffling between both the freestyle, and race competitions and qualifiers. When heading to the race the next day, freestyle pilots were asked to arrive by 8:00am. Danny had run into car trouble, and traffic on the way to the race. He tried to call, and was also called by organizers, but cell phone reception on that part of the island did not allow for clear communication. The competition started at 8:30, and when Danny showed up at 8:45, he was told he was disqualified, and could not compete. The largest reason being that he was not there for the 15 minutes to be a judge, and that would be unfair to the other pilots. Danny gave me his thoughts on his experience. "The day before. Everyone was late and I was sitting the racing area all the time. But the next day, I got a little trouble. They treat me like a kid and child? And the most important thing which was the judges. Why don't they ask some audience or some professional pilots (don't need to race in freestyle) for judging?"

There was a lack of water, available bathrooms, and a number of safety issues, including battery charging stations that had 100+ battery chargers exposed to the elements and rain in an open tent. There were no sand buckets for damaged lipos. Tents blew down, an estimated 10K in GoPros were stolen, and we haven't even talked about the Wings. 

The VIP Treatment

While at the race, a friend of mine, Ian Richardson, a pilot that competed in both the team and individual race, let me know about his two friends from New Zealand, Fran and Greig that had purchased VIP tickets for Drone Worlds. For $599 each ticket, they were supposed to receive the following: 

Package Features

  • Access to the Super-VIP "Twilight FPV Zone" or the quiet zone just feet from the racing flight deck and the Finish line. Here you will sit so close to the pilots, that you'll hear the banter and trash talking. You can wear a set of FPV Goggles and experience the thrill of the race first hand. You'll be directly in the action, up-front, on the field, complete with the roar of the crowd as you watch the winners cross the finish line. 

    You will see exactly what the pilot is seeing via the onboard camera as he/she navigates with speed and agility through the course. Warning: Please ensure that you are adrenaline/high tension tolerant, and can handle very fast motion vertigo. This is as close as you can get without being a pilot and is completely optional, so if you just want to stand in the Twilight FPV Zone that's ok too, just hold on to something.  
  • Concierge Service with Majordomo to take care of everything you need. 
  • Invitations to all parties, receptions and private events
  • All Access to the Pilot Pit Area to meet/greet pilots, inspect airframes, hang out in the pilot lounge.
  • Access to special demonstrations, exhibits and events.
  • VIP Swag, including branded logo wear and other goodies
  • All Access Badge and Official Lanyard
  • VIP Parking pass.

I spoke with Greig and asked him about his VIP experience. "We bought VIP tickets as I was going to enter the Aloha cup, we had already booked air fares and accommodation but when I went to purchase my aloha cup ticket in early September it said it was sold out." Greig had intended on trying to qualify through the Aloha Cup, but never competed because he was not aware of the wait list, and other rules which had not been communicated to him. I asked Greig if he had received everything that the package had promised. "We were never offered FPV goggles (I did have my own). Our VIP tickets didn't kick in till the start of the championship proper, so no VIP treatment for the aloha cup. We did get offered fruit platters and on the 2nd day there was beer on the third soft drinks. At some times people where kicked out of the VIP area that made me feel like a bit of a douche, rather then a VIP, at one point the NZ team dudes I were talking to got kicked out." And what about the swag? "All we got was a t-shirt, lanyard...the New Zealand team guys had to add me to the Facebook group 'drone world participants' we received zero communication, other then a survey that I found in my spam folder of my gmail." When I asked Greig about his feelings towards the cost of the tickets, he gave a really positive answer. "I would of rather given them Team Pilots) the money or to my local club, we have no money $1,200 USD's would go along way towards gates or ground stations. We have had a great holiday and at this point are kind of over it, I got to meet some cool people and am better friends with the NZ crew, so wasn't all bad."

Everything Must Come to an End

The winner of Drone Worlds, Shaun Taylor (Nytfury) walked away from the race a champion. A truly gifted, hard working, kind, and consistent pilot, the trophy found a good home. Regardless of how many felt about the race itself, one constant positive point that kept coming up was that everyone was happy to see each other. It was a way for pilots from around the world to meet face to face, and say hello to each other, despite what language people spoke, or where they were from, everyone came together for one passion, one dream, and respect for one another. Jay von Brimer said it well, "I think the organizers set high expectations, which also cued pilots to have them also. The event did not come close to the perceived quality expected. The gathering of all the world's top pilot, however, DID awesomely meet and exceed the standards of a world class event."

Hours after the final race, a Facebook page, RIPDSA as well as a hashtag by the same name were born. People were upset, and are upset. The anger and frustration is more focused on DSA, and not pilots against pilots. There are people on social media saying that Drone Worlds should be talked about behind closed doors, that too many people complaining will scare the sponsors away. I agree that the negativity, and anger should be turned into finding a positive solution to problem. But at the same time, I believe in transparency. I'm sure DSA, TBS, and whatever other acronym was involved in the race would love to keep the flaws quiet and forget about it. I'm sure the pilots that paid 2K per pack they flew would like to forget about it as well. The transparency should assist in understanding what went wrong, and how to fix it for next time. 

I reached out to Scot Refsland, and TIm Nilson of DSA for comment, and emailed questions which I have yet to hear a response. I believe at the end of the day, many people that are labeled as "complaining", would like their voices heard, and to have their points acknowledged. Many question if there will be another DSA race, and if there is, will they attend it. Joe Scully commented on the future of the organization. "The Drone Nationals, Drone Worlds movement will most likely come to an end. I think the big positive is that there will become an actual world-wide organization that will be a collaborative effort of all regions and all of the biggest minds of the game, and we will all improve, and our next “World” anything (Drone Worlds, World Drone Prix) will be better for it."

As DSA counts the losses from Drone Nationals, and Worlds, there are other organizations waiting in the wings. The current problem is that not one of those organizations has the total package in line yet. To Joe's point, hopefully Drone Worlds will cause a movement towards an organization that is collaborative. Every organization wants to be "the one" but perhaps two of three of four together is what it will take to make Drone Racing the new 'it' sport. 

I'd like to give full disclosure for this blog. I was not emailed for press/media access for Worlds which I was sent at Nationals. The lack of an email may have been due to the fact that I didn't notice that much press at the event in general. It may have been because I did not attend Nationals. It may have been because I had made public comments about Nationals after the event. Regardless, I would like to make it clear that I attended the race to meet people from around the world that I had not had a chance to meet in person before, and to support my friends that were competing in the race. My boyfriend is Chad Nowak, a pilot that won the 2015 Drone Nationals. After his participating in the 2016 Drone Nationals, he publicly stated that he would not participate in any competitions at the Drone Worlds. 

After Nationals I took a break from my blog to focus on the things that I love about FPV. I saw so much negativity come from that event, I wasn't sure if that event alone had changed the direction of FPV Racing from fun flys in a park with friends to complete corporate rule. I hope that pilots will see what happened in these races and know that they are what makes this sport what it is. I hope they understand their worth, and not keep quiet for some free batteries and stickers. There's blood in the water, and if nothing else, this experience will hopefully show the community which people are the sharks, and which people want to achieve success morally, and with care and grace. Until then....

Happy Flying

A Guide to the 2016 Drone Nationals

By Kathleen Hickey

What a difference a year makes. The 2015 National Drone Racing Championships took place in Sacramento CA. It was the first large scale race of its time, bringing pilots from all around the world to compete. If you missed the race last year, here is a great video from Tested. 

The winner of last year's race was Chad Nowak (FinalGlideAus), from Brisbane, Australia. The 2016 Drone Nationals will take place August 5-7 at Governors Island in NYC, New York.

The venue is not the only change, ESPN 3 will broadcast live streaming of the event. There are also huge sponsors, including GoPro, and AIG. The Drone Nationals is produced by The Drone Sports Association (DSA), which was formerly RotorSports. Earlier in the year, RotorSports and IDRA had joined, but recently IDRA announced a separation from RotorSports, and with that came the newly formed DSA. Also joining this year is a personal favorite of SLD, Joe Scully, and the rest of the FPV Racing Events team. 

The 2016 Nationals will have four race categories; Individual, Team, Wings, and Freestyle. With the growth of technology, popularity, and accessibility, the level of talent from the competing pilots is really incredible. So who's going to win? Here are the top picks from SLD in Individual, and Freestyle. 

Individual

  • Chad Nowak (FinalGlideAus) is the reining champion from the 2015 Drone Nationals. 
  • Brian Morris (Brain Drain) is ranked #1 in the DSA national rankings, leading the next pilot by over 1K points, and #2 in the world. 
  • Zachry Thayer (A_Nub) is currently ranked #2 in the DSA national rankings, and #5 in the world. 
  • Shaun Taylor (Nytfury) is ranked #4 in the DSA national rankings, and #12 in the world. My nn

My pilots to look out for - Andrew Meyer (MayMayDay) the current Canadian National Champion and Rich Howarth.

FreeStyle

The freestyle competition was by invitation only, and every pilot that's competing is extremely talented.

Steele Davis (Mr. Steele)

Carlos Puertolas (Charpu)

Tommy Tibajia (Ummagawd)

Chad Nowak (FinalGlideAus)

all from Rotor Riot will be competing.

Zoe Stumbaugh (Zoe FPV), is the only female competing in both Individual and Freestyle, not to mention she's a freestyle badass that can also do her tricks inverted.

The competition also includes a couple of notable newcomers in Johnny Schaer (JohnnyFPV)

and Ethan Gulnac (HiFlite). 

 

If you're planning on watching the live stream on ESPN 3, be sure to check out the website before the big race. There may be an App or media player required to view. Also, be sure to take a look at the official 2016 Drone Nationals Schedule. If you're lucky enough to be in NYC this weekend, here's the ticket information. The US winner from the Nationals will be qualified to race at the Drone Worlds, in Hawaii this October. It's impossible to know who's going to walk away the winner, but I must say from attending qualifiers, and seeing many of these pilots race in person, it's going to be an amazing race. Enjoy the 2016 Drone Nationals, and until then...

Happy Flying!

 

FPV Racing: From Hobby to Money Maker

By: Kathleen Hickey

A New Era in FPV Racing

Anyone in the UAV, or drone community will notice one particular area that is on a steady rise; FPV Racing. In recent months FPV Racing has been riding a wave of attention, and growth that is seemingly unstoppable. Local races and meet-ups in parks have turned into large multi-day events, in incredible locations, all around the world. Companies like ESPN, Mountain Dew, and GoPro are all testing the waters to see if FPV Racing can be a viable source of marketing, and income. There is talk of introducing gambling to the sport. But with growth, and money come higher stakes for people involved, and leaves one to wonder what will become of a growing sport if put in the hands of people that want to monetize it. 

Racing With The Big Boys (and Girls)

This year alone has seen a number of incredible races. In January XDC had it's second race at the Zappos HQ in Las Vegas, which took place the same week as CES. 

The Track for XDC2 was more proximity, and show. There were large screens to show live feed, and share social media pictures. For the final, there was an audience of 500 people in attendance, which were able to participate in the race by voting by applause for the the freestyle pilot they enjoyed watching the most. It also ushered in one of the hottest course trends in FPV, the glowing gates created by FPV LighTrax, which is admittedly a stunning visual for any audience. 

At the end of January, I attended Flight Night, a race presented by ThunderDrone Racing. Although it was a single night event, it was full of production value not usually seen in FPV Racing. 

Then of course, came the announcement of an international race that claimed it would change the sport of FPV; The World Drone Prix in Dubai. 

Following the World Drone Prix were races in caves, multi-day FPV LighTrax courses for nationals qualifiers, and the integration of two prominant FPV organizations, IDRA and the Drone Worlds - Drone Nationals by Rotor Sports. This year the Drone Nationals will be held in New York City in August, at Governors Island and will be broadcasted live on ESPN, which is a huge change from last years race in Sacramento, CA. The Drone Worlds will take place in Hawaii in October, on Kualoa Ranch. 

The Mountain Dew sponsored DR1 Race was held at the end of June, bringing household brands to FPV Racing. 

The race was an invitational, which included twelve top FPV pilots, and was shot for release on a cable network. 

In recent months, FPV has captured the attention of major media outlets, such as 60 Minutes Sports. 

There was also a CorridorDigital You Tube video that features the flying talents of FPV pilots Chad Nowak and Steele Davis, through their show Rotor Riot. The video has gained nearly 2 Million views. 

Do I need to mention that it's just July....

Who is Actually Winning

Like many things that experience rapid growth, there are also some growing pains. The Drone World Prix which initially sent the FPV world a flutter with a one million dollar prize went through several race, and prize restructures. It went from an invitational, to a race with a video entry qualifier, something that had not been done before in FPV racing. The one million dollar prize turned to a 250K prize for the winner, with smaller prizes spread out to ranking pilots in the race, and freestyle competitions. The World Drone Prix also required pilots come in teams, so most pilots split their prize, which left winning pilots with much much less than what the promotional videos had touted. 

Instead of all teams having their accommodations paid for when it was an invitational, teams in the top 20 would have their travel expenses reimbursed. Four months later, some of those top 20 teams have still not received checks from the World Drone Prix for what they had to pay out of pocket for hotel, and travel costs. With pilots receiving less than a months notice that they had qualified for the race, for most teams travel was booked at a premium. People looking in may assume that pilots are being taken care of by large race organizations, and pilots are not ones to speak out publicly against an organization if they have not been compensated, which leaves an illusion of a grand race.

 For other big events, pilots are given prize money if they place, or (in one known case), an appearance fee, which pilots had to use to put towards their accommodations, which left some of them with less money then when they came. Some pilots have their travel paid for by sponsors, but the pilots that don't have those types of sponsorships have to attend the larger races on their own dime to compete with the best, and with the hope that a win may open doors to more lucrative opportunities. There have been instances where prize money has taken over six months or more to make it to the pilots. 

So with a growing industry that includes big RC manufactures, corporate sponsorships, and pilot sponsorships, who is walking away with the best deal. Although the number is growing, it is very rare to find a pilot that is able to make a living from racing alone, with no other source of income. As races get larger, and destinations get further away, who is making sure that the heart of FPV, the pilots, are receiving fair treatment for what they are giving? With no managers or agents, pilots are left to negotiate their own terms. The current group of elite pilots, may at some point need to set the standard for how pilots are paid for their work, including use of their footage, to consultation and appearance fees, and travel costs. In time, sponsorships may include money, and not just free products.

As it transitions from park meet-ups and fun flys, to a lucrative money making sport, it will be interesting to see the people and companies that will come out on top as the true money makers. Will FPV race organizers see the profit? Will the product manufactures see the most reward? Will the pilots see their fair share of the pie? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, regardless of what happens, we can only hope that the fun, community, spirit, and innovation of the FPV community is never overshadowed by the money. 

 

Happy Flying!

 

 

Quad Life: MY FPV Journey 2 - Show Me the Money!

By Kathleen Hickey

So, you've checked out a race or two, or hung out with a local FPV group, and you've decided that you want to fly. What's the next step? There are three ways you can go.

The first would be to purchase a Ready To Fly (RTF) quad. You can purchase a quad that's ready to fly out of the box. Some retailers also offer sets that come with Fat Shark goggles. Some retailers to check out would be Horizon Hobby, or ReadyMadeRC. The benefit of going to RTF route is saving yourself from figuring out various parts, and a build right off the bat. If you have never used a radio or controls of any sort, or if you're completely new to the RC and drone world, a RTF could be a good introduction. You'll want to make sure that the quad you buy has replaceable parts that you can purchase. 

The second option would be to build your own quad. I wanted to build my own for various reasons. First, I usually don't take the easy road with most things. I like to really challenge myself. Basically I'm a sucker for punishment. I also knew that I wanted to fly and there was no doubt that this was something I wanted do. Another fact to consider is that you will crash. Crashing your quad is part of the package. The very best pilots crash . The benefit of building your own quad is that you know how to fix it when something goes wrong. You can also customize the parts you'd like to use to make a quad that you like to fly. There are you tube videos on how to build your own, but if at all possible, find someone that is willing to sit down with you and teach you in person. You would be at the mercy of their schedule, and it may take some time to build it, but understanding how the quad works, and how to build it is very valuable. 

The third option would be to go to your local hobby shop, and see if they build quads for their customers. You would have to pay for their time to build it, but it's a way of using the second option, without having to go through the build process on your own. You may want to ask if they would be willing to take you through the process, so you can learn what it's like from start to finish. The benefit of going through a shop is you have a real person that you can talk to. Make sure to also get quotes on repairs, and labor for those repairs. I can't say it enough, but you will crash, so it's important to know what that cost will be before you commit to that shop building the quad. 

This might be a good time to bring up an important point. There are no absolutes in FPV. From your props to your radio to your quad, everyone has an opinion on what they believe is best. It's important to not get too overwhelmed with advice and suggestions. Also, ask people why. If someone tells you to build your own quad, ask them why they think so. If someone suggests buying a RTF, ask them why. Pilots feel very passionately about what they use, and how they like to use it, and once you find what works for you, you'll feel the same way. 

Space One FPV provided my 180mm Frame, four motors, four ESCs, and a flight controller. 

I decided to start flying Line Of Sight (LOS) first, before going right to FPV, with goggles. There were two main reasons for this decision. The first was because the people around me recommended that I being LOS first. They believe it's important to see how the quad flies with your eyes first, and learn how to hover, turn, and keep the quad even in the air, before moving on to FPV. Some people believe that you should go right to FPV, and not fly LOS at all. Another determining factor for me was the cost. I could start to fly the quad without purchasing all of the FPV equipment, and parts.

The list of things to purchase is long. And if you're like me, with no previous RC experience, it can be an expensive hobby to get into. Here are a few tips:

  • Have an idea of what you want your quad to do, and how you would like to use it. Picking parts for your quad is a chain reaction. The motors, ESCs, Battery, props, FCs, PDBs, everything is connected, and they have to support one another. Before buying things off of friends, or the internet, make sure all of your componets will play nice with each other. Otherwise you are spending money on products that won't work, or will need to be replaced sooner than later.
  • What kind of shopper are you? About 90% of the pilots I have spoken to about this topic, suggest that you buy good quality tools and parts from the start. The first reason being that in FPV, you really do get what you pay for. Secondly, it will be more costly in the long run to replace parts on your quad, or your gear because you didnt spend a little extra to begin with. Also, there is resale value. If you decide you don't like a certain part, and it's still in great condition, you have a better chance of selling it. With that being said, I don't suggest you buy the newest latest thing for your first quad build. Purchase reliable, good quality items. You don't need to buy the new hype motors, or ESCs. Not only do you want to avoid "testing" the newest thing when you're building your first quad, but it may also be more difficult to find people that can help, and answer questions if something comes up. 
  • When planning your budget, allow for extra parts. Don't buy just four motors, props, ESCs, because you just need four. Something may not work. You may damage your quad within the first couple weeks. Nothing is worse than waiting for extra parts to come, especially if that part is now out of stock. You don't need to become  a hoarder, but have a few extras around.

Sound daunting? If you just want to get your feet wet, another option is a mini drone, or quad. 

This is my Proto-X. There are also other small quads to choose from. They come with remotes, and are a great way to get down flying basics.

Regardless of how you want to do it, one guarantee is that things will break, parts wont work. You will have to replace things, and there are many little tools, parts, and equipment that you'll need. before you start investing, consider the costs and reality of the hobby. You don't want to get to a point where you're so frustrated you'll want to stop. 

Up next; The Struggle is REAL! My challenges...until then...

Happy Flying!

*Very Special Thanks to Erick Robles:

Custom RC Hobby: (626) 993-2999 - IG: customrc1

259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave
Ste A

PasadenaCA 91107

 

Sex Love and Drones: The Story Behind the Blog

By: Kathleen Hickey

The past couple of months have brought a lot of change, which is why my blogs have been a little widespread. Those of you that have been with me from the start know that I've shared personal things about my past. I do it to be honest, and genuine, and if it helps one person know that another person has gone through the same, then it's worth it. I recently moved, and have started another new chapter in my life, which seems to be happening more and more frequently for me. I've seen on Social Media posts that others are possibly going through the same process I am. So for those of you that are new to SLD, and for those of you that may have been waiting for answers, I thought I would provide a little insight. 

What's In a Name

Probably the most common question I am asked, is why the name Sex Love and Drones. I usually tell people two answers. 1) It's a long story 2) Who doesn't like Sex, Love, or Drones? Or any combination of the three? It's actually very personal, and I've shared the origin of the name with very few people, but I think it's time to share.

Here's the real story behind Sex Love and Drones...

A couple of years ago I was at a job that was killing me to go to everyday, and I was in a relationship that for various reasons, was not working. I was able to start on a new career path, which was a leap of faith, and a huge cut in pay, but something that I enjoyed and was happy to go to. I cared a little more about my health, and tried to focus on friends, and my family. In that process I reconnected with a guy I had dated years before. He was engaged, and was planning a wedding, and I was in the process of evaluating my own relationship. We exchanged  few emails. He got married, and I went on vacation to Mexico. For the sake of the blog I'll call him That Drone Guy (TDG). When I got back from vacation, he started to aggressively message me, and ask to see me. I will admit the attention was nice. I knew he had just gotten married, and I knew that going down a certain path was not right. I held off on meeting him for three months. Finally I decided to meet with him, and we just went for a walk. We talked about our lives and how they had changed in those 7 years that we were apart. There was chemistry, there was attraction, and there were also a lot of issues with what we were doing. Our messages and phone calls continued. We confessed our love for each other. I told the person I was with that I thought we should see other people. We both had not been happy in a long long time. And a couple months after I met TDG again. 

He works in drones, and although at the beginning, it drove me crazy to hear him talk about them over and over during the little time we had together, I started to get interested, and ask more questions. He encouraged me to get into it myself, and fly. We met each other in Vegas for CES. I did not attend that year, but he spent the day. It was nine months since we had started talking, and I had planned a romantic trip to Palm Springs for my birthday in March. I had planned to share with him my big plans to start a blog about drones during that trip.

He never showed up that weekend. As I cried and drank champagne in my beautiful and empty hotel room, I tossed my drone blog idea to the side, and focused on my broken heart. On Monday I dragged myself into work, devastated, but also angry. I didn't want him to have anymore control over my life. I was talking to a couple of coworkers about my blog when one of them asked me what I was going to name it. I went to my desk and I thought about it. I knew that I wanted it to be fun, and show a bit of my personality. In a moment it came to me. Sex Love and Drones was everything that relationship was, and everything that had gotten me to this moment. It was real, and honest, and perfect. 

That Drone Guy and I stayed in contact after Palm Springs. (He actually took his wife there the next weekend...GASP). I told his wife the news, and of course she was unphased by it all, blinded in dilusion, just as I was. He and I sent messages and spoke for another 6 months. We continued to see each other, and have a physical relationship. We made it a rule that we would not talk about drones, or anything related to them. I know you're thinking that I was extremely stupid. I made a choice to continue seeing a married man under the belief that he had changed. He said he realized the error of his ways. He was on his way to being a better person, and confronting his inner demons. All this while still staying married, and still having an affair. He promised me honesty, and transparency, and I believed it. I was in love. 

So how did it finally end? Interdrone 2015. It would be our first event where we would see each other. His wife would be there as well. He insisted on talking on the phone about it. I had suspected that she was pregnant. We spoke on the phone about ground rules, what to expect and not expect. I asked him a few times if he had anything to tell me that I would need to know. He repeatedly said no. I was planning on attending Interdrone the last day, on Friday. I had kept up with events on Twitter. It was my first big event with Sex Love and Drones. Then someone I know that was at Interdrone, and knew the situation sent me a text. TDG's wife was pregnant. He had lied. And although I knew that he would never change, I wanted to believe that he was being honest with me. It was in that moment that I knew I could not go back again.

I wondered if I could continue my week old blog. Could I keep doing this knowing that it was over, and knowing I would see them if I stayed in this. I think That Drone Guy and I met once more after that. I needed to know how I would feel if I saw him, and when I did there was nothing but anger. I poured everything into my blog. He had taken so much away from me, but he was not going to take this away. I instantly went from being a shy people pleaser to deciding I would do something that I loved regardless of what he would think of it. Ive gotten the occasional missed call from him, and his door is always open...but we all know what that means. 

At the end of the day, Sex Love and Drones was all about me, and really had nothing to do with him. I love Sex. I love Love. I love Drones. I love the sound of motors. I love that I can build something...or try to with my own hands, and have it actually work (most of the time). I'm a girl in a mostly guy world, and not because of That Drone Guy or any other guy. I show up because I love it. I wear heels and dresses, and I do my hair because I love that too. A year ago I would have been too shy to ever go to something where I knew no one, and say hello, and now I go to races and meet people. I love to watch people fly, and hear them talk about something they are passionate about. There are times I get negative feedback about the name of my blog. But overall, I have so many positive responses. People that would never have heard about drones, or care about them, ask me about my blog and what I do almost daily. I talk about the benefits of drone technology, flying responsibly, and I try to address any concerns that people have about drones. My goal was to attract people that may not normally take a moment to see what drones are all about. People like my friends that have no background in tech, or RC, or gaming. I wanted to make drones accessible to people that want to learn about them, and for them to have fun in the process. 

Big changes are hard. Finding your passion and sticking to it is hard. I'm not proud of every decision I have made on this journey, and I've made mistakes. I've cried many tears, and taken some really scary steps. But if I have only one reader a week, I will continue SLD. It has brought me confidence, new friends, and a great community. More recently it has given me someone that is showing me how to love again, and how to let myself be loved by someone, and that alone makes it all worth it. If you're on the same path as me, keep going...

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." - Socrates

Happy Flying

                     

Quad Life: My FPV Journey 1

By Kathleen Hickey

When I started Sex Love and Drones, I had no concept of the FPV Racing world. I may have heard about it, but honestly there was so much to learn, and write about with standard hobby drones, 333 Exemptions, and FAA regulations, I didn't focus on racing. A few months in, I started to hear more and more about FPV Racing through various drone chats, and feeds. Just as I started to look into the racing world, I met Paul Baur (SkinlabFPV). He was kind enough to share his knowledge and experience in FPV racing, and because he also has a UAV background, he was the perfect person to introduce me to the sport. I decided I wanted to write a blog about FPV Racing. 

From there I spoke with Joe Scully, Race Director for FPV Racing Events. Joe took me through the history of multi-rotor FPV from the the You Tube videos, to the leagues, people, and technology that make FPV racing what it is today. I also spoke with pilot AJ Goin (Awkbots) about his experience as a pilot. From those conversations came my three part blog, "Do You Like to F...., Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3." 

These three blogs were my highest read to date. I had only watched racing on You Tube, and through a live feed during the F3Expo in Atlanta, but I didn't have to wait long to see my first race. I had a trip planned to CES in January, and found out that the XDC2 race would be taking place during my visit. XDC2 was an amazing event. I was able to meet incredible pilots, the FPV Racing Events Team, and see a great track. After the race I was instantly hooked. 

XDC2 Course at Zappos Corporate Headquarters in Las Vegas. 

XDC2 Course at Zappos Corporate Headquarters in Las Vegas. 

From XDC I attended several other races. I wanted to learn about the different formats, see how different pilots raced, and get a good feel for the sport. I was contacted by Sid from Space One FPV. He had seen me at XDC, and around various social media outlets. We started to chat about racing, and he invited me to one of the U.S. FPV League qualifiers. At that point I had gotten the building bug. I am competitive, and I like to build things, so I thought ... why not try my hand at building a quad myself. I expressed an interest in  racing, and Space One FPV was generous enough to get me started with a 180 frame, motors, and ESCs. 

After I had the parts, I needed to figure out how to put it all together. The next week, I was at the World Drone Prix Qualifier in Burbank, where I met Erick Robles, owner of Custom RC Hobby in Pasadena, CA. We started to talk about my interest in drones, racing, and my blog. I had let him know that I had just received a frame, but really didn't know how to build it. I live really close to Erick's shop, and he very graciously offered to help me with my build. Within a week I was in his shop, and the build was on its way. 

And so it begins.... As I've been been going through the process, and documenting the build on IG, Facebook, and Twitter, I've had a lot of people reaching out to me that would like to start flying themselves. I'm still learning, and I imagine I'll never really stop, but hopefully sharing my failures and my successes will help encourage other people that are new to FPV racing, to get out and start their own journey. If you want to start building your own quad for the first time, here are some of my hints, and suggestions to get started. 

  • Go to a race! If you've been watching videos online, and through social media, and think this is a hobby/sport you'd like to get into, go to a race, practice, qualifier, really anything! Go out and spend some time with the people that fly. It's the best way to get a good feel for what it's all about in person. Not sure where to go? Social Media! There are a number of Facebook groups with meet ups. MultiGP is also another great resource resource to find people that are flying. 
  • Don't be shy. I'm usually very slow to approach pilots at races, because I don't want to interrupt them, but there's also a lot of down time. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to people. I have learned that race pilots on a whole are very open to people that are beginners. Everyone is willing to chat, and share their knowledge and experience. 
  • Look and learn. When I go to any type of race event,  if it's an actual race, or a practice, or qualifier, I am like a sponge. I like to see what people are doing. What the process is for them, and how they use their equipment. Flying a race quad is not easy. There's something to be said about taking a step back and observing the people that do what they do best. 
  • Take the help. I'm one of those people that are very slow to ask for help, or take people up on offers. I learned very quickly that doing it all on your own is more stressful, not as fun, and frustrating. Everyone who has been new to anything knows how hard the initial struggle is. People want to help, so let them help! There's nothing better than learning from someone that has been through the process themselves.

The next Quad Life blog will cover the beginning of the build, how to know what frames and parts are best for you, what you'll need to start building, and how I got through soldering, and a wonky ESC ... until then....

Happy Flying!

*Very Special Thanks to Erick Robles:

Custom RC Hobby: (626) 993-2999 - IG: customrc1

259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave
Ste A

PasadenaCA 91107

 

CES 2016: Going Through the Looking Glass

By Kathleen Hickey

I was in Las Vegas last year during CES, but only for a day, and I did not attend. As I walked around Vegas, mainly shopping, I saw groups of CES badge wearers, and thought how amazing it would be to actually attend.

Fast forward eight months later, and I had started my blog. I registered for CES in October, and I'll say that the email confirming my registration was one of the best I had received that year. I was in, and three short months later, I was in Las Vegas, standing on the showroom floor.  

CES is a trade only event, and has various requirements to attend. Attendees are asked to provide credentials in advance to verify that they are affiliated with the consumer technology industry. It takes place in several locations throughout Las Vegas, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, and a number of hotels. Those locations were named "Tech East," "Tech South" and on, so they would be easy to find, and navigate through. Vendors were separated into categories based on  the type of technology they represent. DJI was under "Digital Imaging/Photography", and "Other Consumer Technology". There was not a specific Drone, UAS, UAV category. Most of my time was spent in Tech East, where the UAV and drone technology was located.

My first stop was at DJI. As always, they had an amazing booth, which featured all of their products and platforms. The new OSMO, released in October was a feature at the booth. OSMO is a handheld gimbal which features digital imaging, and advanced 3-axis stabilization system making it the first of its kind in a handheld camera. With OSMO, you can capture images with timelapse, tripod free long exposure, and 360 automatic panorama. The OSMO comes with the Zenmuse X3 camera, and provides 4K video at 24, 25, or or 30 frames per second. CES attendees had an opportunity to borrow the OSMO for an hour to document their CES experience. It was also featured with the new Zenmuse X5 camera.

DJI offered attendees the chance to take a DJI New Pilot Experience class, which took place in a remote location, about 30 minutes away from the convention center. Attendees could sign up for a specific class time slot, and were taken by bus to the location. Also featured was the newest addition to the Phantom Series, the Phantom 3 4K which is the only one in the series to offer 4K video and Wi-Fi connectivity for live video feed.

Also on hand was the Inspire 1 Pro Raw with the Zenmuse X5 in black (try saying that three times fast). Which is perfect for pilots that want to fly on the dark side.

My next big stop was at Yuneec which unveiled the new Typhoon H at CES. 

One of the most exciting things about the Typhoon H, would be its autonomous features. The sense and avoid technology, which allows the Typhoon H to detect when large objects are in its way was highlighted, and well as its Journey, Orbit, Curved Cable, and Point of Interest Modes. It also features retractable landing gear, and a 4K Camera. The Typhoon H is not yet available for purchase, but is believed to retail for around $1,799, which is less than other leading drones with similar features. Yuneec has become a leader in the drone industry, through advanced technology and competitive pricing. I'm looking forward to seeing the Typhoon H at work, and what's in the future for Yuneec. 

Another notable drone was the Hexo+. It seems to fit somewhere between a standard drone, and the Lily, which sees itself more in the GoPro market than drones. The Hexo+ is controlled by an App on your smartphone, although it is also RC compatible. The Hexo+ tracking feature, and 45 MPH maximum speed make it more idea for people that would want a drone for extreme sports, and other action based activities. 

Ehang unveiled a single passenger drone, Ehang184 which is an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) that can fly for about 20 minutes, and carry a person up to 260 pounds. Of course their are many considerations, (and laws), to be considered before something like Ehang184 could come to market, but it was very impressive to see in person, and something that we may have to look forward to in the future. 

Another amazing booth, and one of my favorites at CES came from Parrot. Although drones are just part of the Parrot family, which includes headphones, Bluetooth devices, robots, and even something that helps you water your plants, Drones were a focal point. 

Taking center stage was the the Parrot Disco, the first "Ready To Fly" Fixed-Wing drone. It has a 45 minute flight time due to a 2700mAh battery. It also has embedded ground sensors, detachable wings for transport, and automatic takeoff, landing and return home modes.  

Parrot also offered attendees an amazing show, with choreographed autonomous drones within their flight cage. It was colorful, fun, and full of life. Also on hand was the Bebop 2, and an FPV compatible Skycontroller. 

Going to CES truly felt like stepping into another world. There was so much to see, and participate in. It was incredible to see all of the new technology, and not just in drones, but in various tech fields. Information is already up for CES 2017. There is an email sign up that will let you know when registration is open. I will be posting tips and things to know when planning your trip to CES for next year. If you'd like to see more pictures, they are available on my Adventures Page! Thank you CES for a wonderful time. I'll see you next year...

Happy Flying

Me with my badge. I put it on as soon as I got it. Maybe not the cool expo move, but I was too excited to not have it on. Although I still wonder about what Services I'm Providing...

Me with my badge. I put it on as soon as I got it. Maybe not the cool expo move, but I was too excited to not have it on. Although I still wonder about what Services I'm Providing...

DJI OSMO with the Zenmuse X5 camera and additional accessories. Available through the DJI Website. 

DJI OSMO with the Zenmuse X5 camera and additional accessories. Available through the DJI Website

The new Phantom 3 4K

The new Phantom 3 4K

Inspire 1 Pro Raw with the Zenmuse X5 in black

Inspire 1 Pro Raw with the Zenmuse X5 in black

Yuneec Typhoon H

Yuneec Typhoon H

Part of the Yuneec booth at CES

Part of the Yuneec booth at CES

Hexo+

Hexo+

Ehang184 AAV

Ehang184 AAV

Parrot Booth

Parrot Booth

Parrot Disco: CES Innovation Award Honoree - Unmanned Systems and Accessories.

Parrot Disco: CES Innovation Award Honoree - Unmanned Systems and Accessories.

Parrot flight cage with the Disco

Parrot flight cage with the Disco

Do You Like to F.......Part 3

By Kathleen Hickey

When it comes to FPV Racing, there was so much to talk about, I decided to separate the blog into three parts. "Do You Like to F.......Part 1" contained a little about the history of FPV racing, the You Tube videos that helped create the fan base, and basic flying information.  "Do You Like to F.......Part 2"  focused on the anatomy of the quad, including a video from Tested on how to build your own, and the basic materials and parts you will need to race. "Do You Like to F...Part 3" is all about the pilots, race structure, and events to look forward to in 2016. 

I again have to give a big thank you to Joe Scully, Race Director of FPV Racing Events for giving me a full history and breakdown of FPV racing. FPV Racing Events hosts premier racing events in Canada, and the United States. Information on their upcoming events can be found by following the link to their website. Another thank you AJ Goin, aka Awkbots, team pilot for Ready Made RC (RMRC). And because Part 3 is pilot focused, I will also be sharing videos from Paul Baur, aka SkinlabFPVCobra Motors sponsored pilot and team pilot for Horizon

To help with some terms, I have included a glossary at the end of the blog. Because it's not fun if you don't understand what people are saying!

The Pilots

There are many components to racing, but without a doubt, the pilots themselves are the heart of FPV. It is their passion, daring, and dedication that has inspired people from all around the world to get out and fly. From racing to freestyle, pilots have been a driving force in the growth and innovation of FPV racing. 

When learning about FPV, and meeting people that fly, it's clear that some pilots share a strong bond, and have great relationships with each other. They are in a competitive setting, but because it's so new, most pilots are happy to help each other. Joe Scully spoke to the willingness of pilots to help one another, especially if there is a new pilot that may not be familiar with adjusting their equipment to accommodate race requirements. "The thing with multirotor is it’s a new industry, it’s a new organization, or family, and everyone is so helpful that if you show up at a race...we provide a VTX for most of our racers, and so people show up and they’ll only have a boscam which means they are going to have to solder a special wiring hookup so that they can accommodate it. A lot of these people will say no problem, and others might say this is a kit I bought at a hobby shop, and I’ve flown it in a park, and I don’t know what to do to it. And usually someone just grabs it, and they say here, and they solder the three solder points on there, and you’re good to go. So everyone is really, really friendly, and that has been everywhere we go." 

AJ Goin (Awkbots), is relatively new to FPV racing, and comes from a motocross background. He started flying about six months ago, and has been racing for about three. We spoke a bit about the relationships pilots have with each other, and his experience so far. "This hobby doesn't seem to be as extreme contrast of the type of groups in something, like motocross. We are all kind of nerds in a sense, and you have to be a little bit of a unique person to have had the patience to research and build these quads. For me personally I really enjoy meeting everyone and hanging out, and treating it how it should be, FUN!" 

To get a taste of the fun AJ, and other pilots have at large events, take a look at his video, one of my personal favorites from F3Expo, which took place in November at the Georgia Dome. 

Most FPV pilots, and generally all professional pilots, will post racing or freestyle videos on You Tube. Here is a selection of videos from pilot Paul Baur (SkinlabFPV). 

There are many talented pilots that will post videos not only on You Tube, but on their Instagram, or Twitter feeds. FPV gained popularity through social media, and following your favorite pilot is a great way to keep up to date on the latest videos, products, and events they will be racing in.  

You may see pilots sponsored by a particular brand. Generally they represent the brand when they are racing as individuals. Pilots can also be part of a team. For example, Awkbots is a team pilot for RMRC, and SkinlabFPV is a team pilot for Horizon. When they attend a race, they can race with their team, as individuals, or both. 

The Race

Because FPV Racing is still relatively new, there can be variations in the structure of each race, depending on the league or group that is hosting the event. Currently, there is not an umbrella organization, league, or association for FPV Racing as a whole, like the NBA, BFL, or NBA. There is also no standard way to rank pilots outside of each individual or team race, per event. The International Drone Racing Association (IDRA) had created a ranking system, based on results from select racing events, but the ranking is not used as an industry standard.

To enter a race, pilots will usually pay a race fee. Unless a race is part of an expo, or trade show, entry for spectators is usually free. Very few races are by invitation only, which means that non sponsored or beginner pilots can have a chance to enter into practice or qualifying rounds in professional races. Depending on each event, there can be one, or several classes that pilots may race in. A class is usually based on a build element of the quad. For example, one class may be based on the wheel base, or measurement of the frame (250mm or under/251mm or over). Some classes are based on prop size (4", 5" 6"). Classes can also be determined by lipo cell count. If you are interested in racing, it's important to look at the race website for racing and class guidelines, so you know if your quad would be eligible to race. Professional pilots build a number of racing quads, so they can enter various classes. Joe Scully broke down the class structure for FPV Racing Events. "As a local, you’ll see that race flyer out there, and it will take you to a website, and from there you’re going to know if you have what it takes to fly, you’ll know if you have the right craft, and if you’re fortunate enough to go to one of the events that we have, or one similar, we have 4-5 different classes can you build one for every class so the average person, they’re going to try and build as many as they can race as much time  get as much flight time in as possible." 

The structure of each race, and how to move through, or qualify can vary per event. Joe described the structure that FPV Racing Events uses for their races. "We usually do a practice round and...we do it in organized heats, so it’s just like a race because we use the VTX and the raceband signal separation, we can go with upwards of 8 as long as all of our signals work, so we do actual heats of 8 so your practice session is just like a race. It’s three minutes in duration. You get to do as many laps as you want in that three minutes. You get a tone start just like in a race and that’s your practice heat.  At other events they do a synchronous, … but we have found that at the locations and venues we’ve been at it’s not as safe, so we do it in controlled heats. Then we’ll go into a qualifier, and the qualifying round. We try to do as many qualifiers, as possible. Most of my events are two rounds, so with our new format that I’ve developed, at F3Expo...and this is where we rely on the software for it, so again you have three minutes, we do a tone start, you take off, and depending on the course you may, and your skill you may do 7, you may do 10 laps within that three minutes, and we take your fastest 5 consecutive laps out of that, and that’s your qualifying time. And if we are able to have more than one round of qualifying, it depends on our format during the day...we’ll try to do two rounds of qualifying. And from there, this is where everyone is different around the world it seems." 

Joe goes on to explain a structure in which the qualifying time is used to separate pilots, if there were approximately 30 pilots in a race.  "They would take your best qualifying time and you’d take the top 16, they would race, you take your top 8, and they would race, and then your top 4 at the finale. My style is the RC way, so regardless if you qualify first, or you qualify last you are seated into a main, and we would go up the order so we would do 23rd – 30th, they would race first, whoever won out of that group of 8 would advance into the next group, so they would be in that 16-22nd group, and so you can actually go from the bottom of the pack right up into our final 8 A main. It’s a very forgiving format...you can work your way from the bottom to the top."

If you're a pilot just starting out, MultiGP is the perfect league to get into. They welcome pilots of all skill levels, and you can join a chapter that's close to you. There are race events, meetups, and forums, and it's a group Joe Scully recommends. "Someone who buys a craft, and wants to get into racing, even if it’s a going out to that first race and watching , Multi GP is the only way to go." 

Events

One of the last, big races of the season this year was at F3Expo in Atlanta, where FPV Racing Events introduced the Thunderdrone 500, which was a team based relay competition, something race fans can look forward to more of in 2016. 

Below is the live feed from F3Expo. The video is two hours, and gives an feel of the structure of an event. There is also a lot of great information from Joe Scully, and quick pilot interviews where they may talk about how much flight time they are getting in, and the equipment they are using. The race pace is faster as it gets closer to the end, and the final pilots.

In a few weeks, we will be in the New Year, and with that comes a number of exciting events. There are too many leagues and events all over the world to list them all, and some leagues are still planning their events. Here are a few events with confirmed dates that you can plan for in 2016. 

XDC_2 - Extreme Drone Circuit FPV Race At Zappos HQ, Las Vegas NV - January 7-9 2016

Taking place during the same time as CES in Las Vegas, this race is going to kick the season off in a huge way. I'll be taking in a day or two myself, and i can't wait!

 2016 Winter Barnburner Drone Racing Series Presented by ReadyMadeRC 

There are six races making up this series in Canada. The Season Opener begins at the end of January, and the final event is in the beginning of May. 

World Drone Prix

Taking place in Dubai this spring, World Drone Prix is offering a million dollars in prizes. 

Drone Worlds

Drone Worlds will take place in Hawaii from October 17-22, 2016 at Kualoa Ranch, on the Island of Oahu. Top pilots will qualify for worlds through their countries Drone Nationals. 

There are many more amazing races and events to see throughout the year! Attending a race, or registering as a pilot is a great way to support the FPV community. 

Learning about FPV racing has truly been such an amazing experience for me. I can say that although most people I've had the pleasure of meeting in the industry are very giving, and welcoming, the FPV community, and pilots I've had the honor of speaking with, have been incredibly generous with their time, and patient teachers. Thank you again to everyone that helped make this three part blog possible! Be safe, have fun, thread the needle, and as always....

Happy Flying! 

Glossary

  • ARF: Almost Ready to Fly - a drone that requires some assembly before flight. 
  • Boscam: A type of transmitter and receiver 
  • CES: Consumer Electronics Show; A large electronics trade show. 
  • Fixed Wing: Usually referring to hobby planes, which have wings, and not removable propellers, or props. 
  • FPV: First Person View - a method used to control a UAV from the viewpoint of the pilot. The UAV is piloted from a first person perspective by an on-board camera, which is fed with wireless technology to a video monitor, or FPV goggles. 
  • Line of Sight: When a looking at a drone, or quad without using FPV technology. Line of sight video in terms of racing would mean a video of the actual race, and not from the pilots first person view through the quad camera. 
  • Lipo: Lithium Polymer Batteries 
  • Multi-Rotor: Another name for multicopters, or quadcopters. 
  • Prop: Propeller 
  • Quad: Another name for a drone. 
  • RC: Remote-Control
  • RPV: Remote Person View - another term for FPV
  • RTF: Ready To Fly - No assembly required before flight.
  • Tone Start: In FPV racing, there are a series of tones used as a countdown to take off. 
  • Threading the Needle - Basically bad ass flying. 
  • Video Piloting: An alternate term for FPV and/or RPV
  • VTX: Video Transmitter System

Do You Like to F....... Part 2

By Kathleen Hickey

The Recap

I hope those of you that read "Do You Like to F.......Part 1" enjoyed learning a little about the history of FPV racing, watching the You Tube videos that helped create the fan base, and basic flying information. If you didn't read Part 1... (tisk tisk)...but don't fear. Part 1 is available below. 

I again have to give a big thank you to Joe Scully Race Director of FPV Racing Events for giving me a full history and breakdown of FPV racing. FPV Racing Events hosts premier racing events in Canada, and the United States. Information on their upcoming events can be found by following the link to their website. 

I also need to thank AJ Goin, aka Awkbots, team pilot for Ready Made RC (RMRC), for sharing a pilot's perspective with me. 

To help with some of the terms, products, and lingo, I have also included a glossary, which is available at the end of the blog. I will add additional words per blog as they apply.

The Anatomy Of A Quad 

Now that you've seen a bit of what racing quads can do, here's a look at some of the main parts, and equipment you'll need to start flying.

  1. Frame: Quad frames are primarily made from carbon fiber. Frames are available in different millimeter sizes. Frames can be purchased already made, or if you're more advanced at racing, you can go with a custom built frame. 
  2. Motors: You'll need four, one for each propeller. 
  3. ESC: Electronic Speed Controller - Also four of these. 
  4. Props: You can't have enough...
  5. LiPo Batteries: Each battery varies in flight time. If you have added components attached to your battery, that can shorten how much air time you have. Which LiPo you decide to go with will depend on how much power you need, but you will probably want to purchase a good amount of batteries. Also, LiPo batteries can potentially be dangerous. You should never fly with a damaged battery. Any battery that has a damaged cell must be properly disposed of, even if the other cells are functioning. There are various ways to properly store batteries, but they need to be stored in a safe container of some kind. You should also never leave your batteries charging unattended. (Safety First!)
  6. Antenna
  7. Flight Controller: The most important part!
  8. Transmitter
  9. Receiver: This may come with the transmitter when you purchase one, but they can also be purchased separately and switched out. 
  10. Goggles: Fat Shark makes a variety of goggles. There are also Fat Shark kits you can purchase that come with the FPV camera, receiver, and transmitter. 
  11. Battery Charger

While looking for information on how to build a quad, I found this video on You Tube from Tested, which has a great step by step tutorial on the parts, and the building process. 

There are several other tools that you will need for the actual build. 

  • Soldering iron
  • 2mm hex driver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Exacto knife 
  • Wire Strippers
  • Small Screwdrivers
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Double Sided Tape
  • Zip Ties (can never have too many of those...)

Additional tools and parts will be needed depending on the build. There are also various added components that were mentioned in the video, such as battery straps, locator, antenna tubes, spacer, etc. Some of these items you can purchase in sets. AJ recommends a tool set sold by RMRC, which you can take a look at here.

There are also ARF or RTF models available if you'd rather not build your own. It's also good to keep in mind that you'll have to replace parts due to crashing, so make sure to look into something that has components that can be replaced easily. 

As mentioned in the video,  it's important to understand what you would like to fly as a unit, and not purchase parts that are not compatible with the size and power needs of the quad you are building. There are various calculations for frame size, motors, ESCs, and batteries, to be sure you are purchasing parts that are the right size, and will give you the right amount of power to actually fly. There are also various race categories and/or requirements depending on the size of various parts, like your frame, or prop size, which is something to consider if you'd like to race. 

I asked AJ Goin (Awkbots), what advice he would give to someone wanting to get into FPV Racing, and here's what he had to say about building your own quad. "One thing I would say is, when getting into a hobby, don't buy the cheapest everything in fear of not enjoying it. I always buys the best the first time, because it makes the experience more enjoyable, and if you don't end up liking it, it's much easier to sell. Obviously not everyone can afford to get the best gear immediately, but do your research and get the best bang for the buck gear."

When just starting out, AJ believes the key thing keep in mind, is to keep it simple. "Get something in the air, line of sight first, and really try to get the hang of that, then graduate to FPV. Don't worry about trying to fly miles away or have GPS position hold...if it's something you want to do, watch as many You Tube videos on it as possible. If you're still interested after that then maybe try it. For me personally, I don't use a single bell or whistle, and never get more than 100-200 yards away. I don't feel like walking that far after I crash (and you will crash). No matter how many videos you watch and see amazing pilots do what seem like perfect runs, just know WE ALL CRASH!"  

Part three of the blog is all about the actual race. From the different types of races, requirements, pilots, and how to get started in an actual race yourself, I'll go over the race from top to bottom. I'll also be sharing a list of events in 2016, and the races I'm most looking forward to. Until then, take a look at what you need to make your quad dreams a reality...and as always...

Happy Flying!

Please keep in mind that all drone flying requires pilots to follow safety guidlines and standards. If you are in the US, please visit the FAA website, or Know Before You Fly to ensure a safe flying experience. 

Glossary

  • ARF: Almost Ready to Fly - a drone that requires some assembly before flight. 
  • Fixed Wing: Usually referring to hobby planes, which have wings, and not removable propellers, or props. 
  • FPV: First Person View - a method used to control a UAV from the viewpoint of the pilot. The UAV is piloted from a first person perspective by an on-board camera, which is fed with wireless technology to a video monitor, or FPV goggles. 
  • Multi-Rotor: Another name for multicopters, or quadcopters. 
  • Quad: Another name for a drone. 
  • RC: Remote-Control
  • RPV: Remote Person View - another term for FPV
  • RTF: Ready To Fly - No assembly required before flight.
  • Video Piloting: An alternate term for FPV and/or RPV
  • VTX: Video Transmitter System

Do You Like to F....... Part 1

By Kathleen Hickey

Going Down The Rabbit Hole

My interest in FPV racing started a few months ago. Watching You Tube Videos of FPV racing and freestyle is a very different experience from watching tranquil, slow moving aerial photography footage. FPV racing is fast and looks uncontrolled, when it is in fact very calculated (usually). While it may be the worst nightmare of any drone owner to crash, in FPV racing, crashing is more of a matter of when, and not if. When flying a standard hobby drone, there may be occasions when there is more than one in the air because you're flying with friends, or doing a demonstration. In those cases, pilots usually fly a good distance away from each other, to avoid getting into each other's shots, and for safety reasons. In racing, quads are racing in close proximity, at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. Instead of avoiding obstacles, racers and freestyle pilots want to go through them. Racing pilots seemed like the bad boys, and girls, of the drone world, and I wanted to learn more.

So take my hand and lets go together, into the world of FPV Racing. 

The Breakdown  

Because I realized there is so much content and information, I decided to break the blog down into three different posts. My method in writing is to seek out the information on my own, without asking someone for assistance. It helps me to understand what information is available for readers to find on their own, and the most helpful resources. Because racing is so new, it was difficult to find out about the history, and guidelines of drone racing on my own. 

I was very fortunate to have the assistance of Joe Scully Race Director of FPV Racing Events to give me a full history and breakdown of FPV racing. FPV Racing Events hosts premier racing events in Canada, and the United States. Information on their upcoming events can be found by following the link to their website. 

To help with a pilot perspective, I was lucky to have the input of AJ Goin, aka Awkbots, team pilot for Ready Made RC (RMRC)

To help with some of the terms, products, and lingo, I have also included a glossary, which is available at the end of the blog. I will add additional words per blog as they apply.

In the Beginning

FPV technology first became available almost ten years ago, when Fat Shark released the worlds first wireless FPV video goggle. Fat Shark's technology and importance in FPV racing was mentioned by Joe Scully in our conversation about the history of FPV. "It really developed that immersive experience where people could go inside the craft and see exactly what their craft was doing." 

Although the technology existed, application and accessibility were slow to follow. In the past ten years, as drone, and video technology have become increasingly better in quality, and more affordable, so has the demand and interest for FPV. People that are drone pilots are more easily ale to transition into FPV, or racing if they have found themselves looking for another type of flying experience, which is something Joe spoke to. "Once you put the camera, and the goggles, and the VTX on, you know everyone goes up and they see what their house looks like, and they see what their neighbors house looks like from the air. Then they get kind of tired of that, and then what’s the next step, and the natural evolution is racing and that’s how I’m thinking in short terms it has really taken off." 

Two years ago, FPV Racing found a place for racers and fans to share and watch incredible racing and freestyle videos, and like many other things in modern day life, we have You Tube to thank. Joe Scully broke down the four most influential FPV You Tube videos, and what they have done for FPV racing, and freestyle. 

"There’s one video that I like to refer to when I’m talking to people new into the drone racing world. It’s called “FPV Racing – Crash Session” and it is a German group that released this. It came out in about October 2014, so just over a year ago this video came out and it has had 2.2, almost 2.3 million views, and that’s the one that I think really sparked drone racing where it is now, and that was one of the first videos where the craft had LEDs on them, and the footage on-board with the GoPros was HD. it looked phenomenal and everyone really got excited, they were like 'this is like watching Star Wars' you know, in first hand."

"Shortly thereafter a group in France released another video. What they did, is they did the same sort of thing as the German people, but they raced on a bike course, like a mountain bike course, so it was actually defined,  and there was caution tape and so forth, and this was probably about the same time, about  November,  December 2014 and that video now has had 2.2 mil views."

"I think the third video in succession would be when Charpu was found on Tested, a video blog, and they followed Charpu, and his whole freestyle flow element of flying through really interesting locations." 

"Then people are now looking for the next bog location, so the next one I think was done by another German group they released another video around January 2015 and they did a race literally underground, in an underground parking garage."

Those four videos have helped to push FPV racing, and freestyle into the forefront of the drone industry. Due to its You Tube origins, most pilots go by their You Tube names. The names are used in their videos, and when they race, or compete. Freestyle is another component of FPV racing. In freestyle, pilots perform tricks, and try to fly under, through, and over various obstacles in unique locations. Drones for freestyle usually larger than ones used for racing, or competition quads, to accommodate a larger and heavier camera. Some pilots show videos in FPV only, and some use line of sight cameras, as well.  

Watching videos can help give a better sense of flying, and to learn about pilots, and their various styles. It can also work as inspiration to start flying, like it did for AJ Goin, aka Awkbots. "Justin Welander aka Juz70. I saw his videos 3-4 years ago and was instantly hooked. When I first saw his videos, I was still dealing with issues from a couple of concussions I had received from motocross. I couldn't ride any more but still wanted to be around the sport. At the time I was filming motocross races just for fun. I got a lot out of just being at the track, filming, and editing. That filled the void of not riding any more. Then I saw a Juz video and found a new thing. Every time I watched one of his videos I couldn't help but think how cool it would be to film motocross like that, and I eventually did film a race with a hoverthings 450 frame, that took me all week to get working, and managed to get flying the day before the MX race. It was line of sight only though. That was my first quad that I had built, and had bought a Blade MQX a few weeks prior to learn how to fly line of sight." After taking a break for a couple of years, Awkbots has become a Team Pilot for Ready Made RC, and has competed in two races, most recently at F3Expo in Atlanta, where he and his team won the ThunderDrone 500. 

Are you hooked yet? The next two parts will cover races, parts and components, how to get into racing, and a 2016 schedule of the FPV events you wont want to miss. Please keep in mind that all drone flying requires pilots to follow safety guidlines and standards. If you are in the US, please visit the FAA website, or Know Before You Fly to ensure a safe flying experience. 

And as always... Happy Flying

Glossary

  • Fixed Wing: Usually referring to hobby planes, which have wings, and not removable propellers, or props. 
  • FPV: First Person View - a method used to control a UAV from the viewpoint of the pilot. The UAV is piloted from a first person perspective by an on-board camera, which is fed with wireless technology to a video monitor, or FPV goggles. 
  • Multi-Rotor: Another name for multicopters, or quadcopters. 
  • Quad: Another name for a drone. 
  • RPV: Remote Person View - another term for FPV
  • RC: Remote-Control 
  • Video Piloting: An alternate term for FPV and/or RPV
  • VTX: Video Transmitter System

Dear Holiday Drone Shoppers...

By Kathleen Hickey

In a snap and a flash, it's over. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and takes with it - Black Friday. Many shops and websites had some amazing deals on drones. Did you take advantage of it? Do you wish you had? Do you think you bought that special someone the drone of their dreams? Did you buy yourself a drone of your dreams? Are you waiting for Cyber Monday? Here are a few things you should know before you give give the gift of a drone, to yourself, or someone you love.  

And I know that it's a lot to go through, and there's not a good amount of falala in rules, but if you or someone you know would like to take on the responsibility of owning a drone, it's important stuff to read through. 

Nothing Says Happy Holidays Like Regulations

It is estimated that a million drones will be sold this holiday season. Regulation can be a scary word. So can National Airspace, and Federal. And you know what, it should make a person stop and think a little. As much as some people would like to consider drones a toy, most of them are not. Drones are tools. They are very fun, addictive, useful, and can create beautiful images, and let the pilot explore a new perspective, but they can also be dangerous if not used correctly, or under the right circumstances. 

On November 21st, the FAA released the findings of a special UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) Registration Task Force. The Task Force was comprised of various members from 27 companies and organizations that ranged from DJI, to the Consumer Technology Association, and the American Association of Airport Executives. The group was given three days to come up with suggested registration requirements for drones. Here's a breakdown of some of their suggestions:

  • UAS that weigh under 55 pounds (55 lbs and over already require registration), and above 250 grams (8.82 oz) will require registration.
  • Registration is not required at point of sale, because the operator of the UAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) is the responsible party to register.
  • Citizenship is not required for registration, and the minimum age to register is 13, (although many drones have a suggested age for use, so always check before purchasing a drone for a minor).  
  • They suggest registration should be free, but in the case a fee is required, they suggest that it's a penny. 
  • Registration can be done online, and DOES NOT require an outside company to process. There are companies already trying to take money from people to "help" with registration of drones. That is not needed. 
  • Operator will have to show proof of registration when asked (I imagine like a fishing licence). 

These are recommendations, and while it's fairly certain that the FAA will put a system of registration in place, The firm details have not yet been provided. If you'd like to read the full summary, you can do so here. There is a summary at the end, so if the drone talk has you scratching your head, you can check the last two pages. The FAA has also come out with a Safety Checklist so if you're giving a drone as a gift, it would be a great idea to print it out, and include it in your card. 

Safety First

Once you put your drone in the air, you are part of the U.S. aviation system. You are considered a pilot, and your drone is an aircraft. There are very strict and harsh penalties for not following flight laws. Not sure what those rules are? Take a look at Know Before You Fly, for safety guidelines. 

Now, have you may have seen some really cool things done with drones. Like maybe...

  • Flying at night.
  • Flying over animals (especially endangered ones).
  • Flying over groups of people.
  • Flying around power lines, airports, stadiums, freeways, and other heavily populated areas.
  • Pools, and beaches, and backyards with people getting some sun.

DO NOT DO ANY OF THESE THINGS!

What you may see from other drone operators, and what you can actually do are two separate things. Some drone operators have exemptions, and have asked special permission to take various shots. Some have contacted local authorities, as well as airports, so they can fly in what normally is a no fly zone. At times, a special group may ask a drone operator to assist in researching groups of animals. Different countries also have different flight laws. And some people are just breaking the rules. If you see something on Instagram or Twitter, it's not a green light to do the same. 

There are various tools to help pilots determine if they are in a no fly zone. Some drones have indicators that will let you know if you are not in an area that you can fly in. There are also Apps that indicate no fly zones. 

There are also temporary no fly zones, for special events, and times you should not fly due to bad weather conditions. It's also important to read the owners manual for your particular drone, and follow the manufactures pre flight instructions, and checklists. 

You Can't Always Take It Back

Drones are expensive. There's not just the initial cost, but everything else you have to buy to go with it. Make sure you fully understand the return policy, and warranty from the retailer you are buying your drone from. It's also important to note that it's possible to have an accident or crash, which is usually not covered by retailers. 

It's also important to note that there have been many thefts of drones from retailers, and not just one drone, but thousands of dollars worth. If you see a drone on Craigslist or Amazon, and the price just seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always purchase your drone from an authorized retailer. It will also guarantee that you will receive the help you need if any issues come up. 

Last But Not Least

Have fun! Have some good - responsible - safe - regulation compliant - non alcoholic - Know Before You Fly Fun. 

If anyone is a "good-time" person, I am. But I want to make sure anyone buying a drone is aware of the responsibility, and neighborly etiquette, before flying. The drone community is always happy to help anyone that wants to learn how to do it right.  Please join all of the responsible pilots, and be a good example. And as always...

Happy Flying





Thankful

By Kathleen Hickey

This week has been one of the most difficult, and challenging I've gone through. And if you knew what some of those other weeks looked like, you'd know that this was pretty bad. It seemed like one thing after another would come up, and I got to the point where I couldn't breathe. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and while some people are finishing up their shopping lists, and preparing their homes for guests, I'm wondering how I'll get through another empty night. So I decided to do what people do on Thanksgiving. I would make a list of the things I am thankful for. I took out a pad of paper, and I just stared at the blank sheet. There are many things that I'm of course thankful for. I don't live in a country in the middle of war. I won't go to bed hungry. I live in a nice neighborhood, and I have a great family and friends. But as I started to write those things down, it felt like checking off boxes I was supposed to check. 

So I sat alone, and closed my eyes, I took a deep breath, and thought about my life these past months I thought about the things that have truly made a difference in my life. I started Sex Love and Drones as a way to express myself, and put myself out there in a way I never have. I'm generally a very shy person. I wanted to do something that would force me to do things I've never done before, and to meet new people, and make my own memories. 

Since starting SLD, I have had the privilege of meeting  some amazing people. Some I've met in person, and some I know through Twitter,  Instagram, or texting. People from France, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, and all over the United States. Some people have touched my life with a comment, or a simple gesture. Some have become an important part of my life. These poor folks have showed patience, and humor while I constantly inundate them with questions like:

  • What is that?
  • How did you do that?
  • How many batteries are you taking?
  • How did you break that?
  • What does that do?
  • What are you eating (the foodie in me). 
  • What is that again????

We've shared stories about life, family, adventures, and of course, drones. They have shared their passion, their wisdom, their vision, and their kindness with me, daily. They took the time to listen to me, when I thought no one cared about what I had to say. They encouraged me to do my best, and keep working, when I thought I could not fit one more piece of drone information in my mind. They listen to my bad drone jokes, and put up with my sailor mouth. They have inspired me with their work and passion. From photography, to racing, and education, they have made me want to be better, and to learn more. I don't know what tomorrow brings. I don't know what will make me smile or laugh again. I don't know what will bring a smile to my face, or how many more days I'll cry. I don't know what friendships will end, and which will begin, but I know I have a great community to lean into. 

You hear a lot about drones in the media. Well let me tell you a little about some of the people that fly them. They are some of the most open, caring, compassionate, and giving people I have ever met. They have made me laugh, and smile, and have helped me to believe in myself again. They have literally saved me. I am proud and honored to to have them as friends....and yes...THANKFUL. 

I hope you all know who you are. Thank You, from the bottom of my heart. Happy Thanksgiving. 

 

 

 

IDE A Guide To The International Drone Expo

By Kathleen Hickey

IDE: The Basics

International Drone Expo (IDE) will take place on December 11th, and 12th at the Los Angeles Convention Center. In its second year, IDE has expanded to a two day event. With over 100,000 sq. ft. of floor space, and over 80 exhibitors, it's sure to be an amazing experience. Exhibitors include DJI, Dronefly, Pix4D, AirVuz, and Yuneec, just to name a few. 

Registration for IDE is still open. There are four types of registration options.

  • Expo Only Access: For $30 you have admission for both days. There is also access to exhibit hall demonstrations, as well as select seminar presentations.
  • Conference Registration: For $325, have access to all conference sessions, luncheons, coffee breaks, exhibits, Keynote presentations, networking events, and demonstrations in the exhibit halls.
  • Student Conference Registration: For $150 get all of the benefits of the Conference Registration. 
  • Media Pass: If you are a member of the media, there is special contact information provided.

So, why should you attend a drone expo? There are many benefits, and IDE has made it very affordable for the general public to attend the event. Many drone expos and shows are trade only. To attend, you would have to show proof that you are in the UAV industry. If you have the Expo Only Access, you can walk the floor and speak face to face with manufacturers, educators, and other members of the drone industry. It's also a way to see demonstrations and see various drones side by side. Being able to see, feel, and try on products is very helpful in finding what works best for your needs, before you actually make a purchase, can save time, and hassle. Attending an expo can also be a fun social activity. Having people join you is a great way to get friends and family involved in your hobby. 

Conference: 

Attending conferences at any expo is a way to hear about what's going on in the world of drones from industry leaders. Some are Keynotes, which are usually on a specific topic, from one key speaker. Panels consist of multiple experts that will take questions on topics lead by a moderator, or Panel Chair. To get the most out of your experience at IDE, take a look at the topics that are most beneficial, or of the most interest for you. Some talks will take place on both days, so you may decide to pick one over the other on a specific day if one is offered on another. Here is my planned schedule, of speakers I'm excited to see: 

Day 1 Friday December 11th:

  • 8:40am - Keynote - Brendan Schulman - VP Of Policy & Legal Affairs, DJI

  • 10:15am

    The Future Of Education And Jobs In SUAS

    The mantra of the modern world is education for the future and advanced manufacturing along with all the technology that fuels it. What jobs are there for our young, and what training with they need? As we transition from a machine assisted labor force to an autonomously assisted one, who will take care of the software and hardware? These and many other questions are more than most algorithms can predict.

  • 11:40am

    Media Coverage And Drones

    News coverage and the creation of information Media are being disrupted by commercial drones. Disasters, Protests, Marches, Riots, you name it. If it's newsworthy, the reporters of the news want to be able to report it to you immediately. Aerial Robotics is changing the way we see the world and how it is being brought to us, get the whole story at 5. 

  • 1:00pm

    Aerial Sensors And Big Data

    By now we have all heard the term “Flying Smartphone”. This is not only true of commercial drones, but with the “Internet of Things” that fly creating an endless future of possibilities for Aerial sensors, application development, and adoption. Software and hardware creators alike have what is the hottest and arguably the fastest paced technology movement man has ever seen.

  • 2:00pm

    Keynote: Parimal Kopardekar

    Drones And The Future Of Aerospace - NASA UAS Airspace Integration & Operations/Logistics Unmanned Air Traffic Management (UTM) & NextGen NASA: Ames Research Center

    One might ponder the fact that we literally have two drones that have left our Solar System and are happily reporting data back to Earth. We have one on Mars, and we are designing one to study the corona of the Sun. With the explosion of technology in the past 150 years mankind has advanced but at a cost to our planet. As we turn our attention back to how we can create sustainability here on Earth we see that Drones and Aerospace are one of the keys to creating and aiding this agenda.

  • 4:30pm

    Room B - FAA And Commercial Drones

    Everyone know the issues that have faced the integration of sUAS in the NAS and the FAA is the main legislating body set with the task of creating the first layer of legislation that will set the groundwork for the future of commercial drone operations in the United States for generations to come. Just as we face at the advent of manned aircraft, the challenges that face us are many and the voices that must be heard are just as great. Hear firsthand from the FAA's author if the NPRM for sUAS in a healthy debate with the community and its creators where we are headed and when.

There are many more to choose from, and a full list of conferences and speakers is available on the IDE website. 

After the Show is the After Party

One of the best things about Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA), are the food and drink options. If you're coming for IDE, and want to try a new restaurant, here are my picks!

  • Bottega Louie: Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Bottega Louie has pasta, salads, pizza, steaks, and a great wine list. They also have an amazing shop full of sweet treats and gifts to take home.
  • Eggslut: Breakfast, brunch, and of course....eggs. 
  • Kendall's Brasserie: Delicious French food. Part of the Patina group, Kendall's offers an Oyster Bar, extensive wine list, and a warm atmosphere. I recommend the salmon, and braised beef short rib. 

LA Live is right next to the convention center. If you don't want to drive at all, there are some great food and drink options there as well. 

  • The Farm of Beverly Hills: A Los Angeles twist on comfort food. The Farm has great drinks, a wine and beer menu, as well as cheese plates and burgers. I mainly visit for the cocktails, but the food is delicious as well. 
  • Rock'N Fish: Surf and turf at its best. Lots of great drink options as well. 
  • Yard House: 160 Beers on tap. That should be enough to get you there.....

 

I hope you are able to find this guide to IDE helpful. I'm so excited to attend. If you are not able to make it, I'll be tweeting throughout. Look for pictures on my Adventures Page. I'm always available to help, so please reach out to me with any questions! 

Happy Flying!

 

Want to Fly a Drone? There's an App for That

By Kathleen Hickey

So, you've found the perfect drone and you're ready to go out and fly. You've taken a look at Know Before You Fly, and perhaps you've taken the quiz to find out how safe a pilot you are. Flying a drone can be a really exciting, and fun experience. 

If you're new to flying, or a seasoned pro, drone Apps are a great resource. From flight logs, to weather information, safety, and airspace maps, downloading the right App can help you get the most out of flying. Some also have an aspect of community, through forums, and information sharing. Connecting with other pilots is a great way to become an engaged member of the drone community by sharing tips, flight information, and of course beautiful aerial photography. Here are a few great Apps, with some highlighted features. 

Hover:

Hover is one of the most popular Apps for commercial, and recreational pilots. It is very easy to use, and covers a wide range of helpful tools and information. Here are a few features:

  • Weather Data: Information includes wind speed (to avoid a Mary Poppins moment with your drone), local weather, KP-Index, current temperature, and more.
  • Flight Readiness Indicator: To let you know if its safe to fly in certain areas, or under certain weather conditions. 
  • Airspace Map: Allows you to see if you are in a no-fly area.
  • News Feed: Keep up to date on drone news, (when you can't look at my blog of course).Hover

Kittyhawk:

Kittyhawk is a beautifully designed App. It allows users to track individual flight information, with an option to join or create teams. Sharing information with friends, and other pilots is a great way to learn, and feel like part of a community when you fly. Here are a few features:

  • Flight Information: Record flights on Kittyhawk's cloud database. Keep track of flight time, battery cycles, and location information. 
  • Socially Friendly: Share information such as flight notes with your team. Support and learn from others by seeing their flight information. Make it fun by competing against your friends on various parts of your flights, like amount of air time. 
  • Fleet: Have more than one drone, or drones from different companies? Add your entire fleet to the App. 

UAV Zones:

UAV Zones is a basic location map. It allows the user to see no-fly zones in the immediate area. Although there are no additional features, it's a simple way to see if the flight area is restricted. UAV Zones had a recent update to fix a bug for startup crashes, which occurred on 11/6/15.

  • Location Indicator: Color indication of no-fly zones.

DJI GO:

DJI GO is specific to DJI Inspire 1, Phantom 3, Matrice 100, and a new feature for the OSMO. The DJI remote controller allows the user to attach a mobile device to view what the camera is capturing in real-time. DJI has additional available Apps for their own devices to optimize each flying experience.  Here are a few features:

  • Real-time flight record.
  • Remote video and photo capture with gimbal control. 
  • Instant video and photo sharing. 
  • Video tutorials.

3DR Solo:

3DR Solo is specific to the 3DR Solo Drone. The App allows the user to have live HD feed as well as access to flight features with a simple touch. There are available support options, and the App is very easy to use. Here are a few features:

  • Access to flight settings and a satellite map view.
  • Live wireless HD view from the Solo GoPro.
  • Smart Shots: Single touch ability to use 3DR Solo orbit, follow, selfie, and cable cam features.
  • Flight school video tutorials. 
  • Wireless updates.

Apps are a great tool, and can be helpful for a fun flying experience. Although Apps have no-fly zone maps, it's important to always use sound judgement when flying. There may also be temporary no-fly zones, which may not show up on an App. Although they can also be useful to track equipment, it's always important to go through flight checks before flying, to ensure the drone, batteries, and any other components are not damaged, and in full working order. 

Each App has various features, and benefits. Just as it was important to recognize specific needs when purchasing a drone, it's important to consider what information and options are the best for individual flying needs when picking an APP. The good news is that all of these are free! There is no harm in checking them out, and picking the one, or more than one that works best to create the best possible experience. 

Happy Flying!

 

 

New Pilot Experience

By Kathleen Hickey

The New Pilot Experience is offered by DJI, and facilitated by its authorized partners. Registration opens one month before the event, and closes a week before the event date. After online registration is complete, each participant will receive an email invitation from the authorized partner. Space is limited, so it's possible that not everyone signing up, will receive a confirmation email. 

The current class highlights the DJI Phantom. There is also a brief overview of other products, such as the Inspire 1, Ronin, Spreading Wings, and OSMO. There is a comparison of the Phantom 3 Series models, and a features overview, as well as information about the DJI App. The class itself is an hour long, with a flight demonstration, and hands-on flight experience. 

There was DJI swag, and a raffle to win various discounts on the purchase of a Phantom. Giveaways, and discounts may vary by retailer. If you can't make it to one of the events, there is a downloadable guide available. Here are a few pictures from the event I attended. 

Happy Flying!



Drones: Responsibility vs. Regulation

By Kathleen Hickey

When discussing drones, one of the most common topics that comes up is regulation. I've found that a parallel conversation to regulation, is that of responsibility. If you're new to drones, or a pro, responsibility and regulation are both important and highly discussed. 

For someone thinking about buying a drone, or perhaps for someone that has just purchased one, the idea of various local, state, and federal flight regulations can be very overwhelming, and confusing. So what exactly is a regulation, and how does that differ from an actual law? Regulations are administrative codes and rules issued by various government agencies, like the FAA. Regulations are not laws, but they have the same force as laws. There are enforceable penalties for not following set regulations at any government level. Federal regulations are adopted through the Administrative Procedure Act (A.P.A.), with states having similar guidelines. Now that regulations have been defined, it's important to look at responsibility.

How much responsibility for safe flying and education falls on the government and regulatory agencies? Are flight rules and regulations easily accessible to the average consumer? Is there enough communication to the average public that these laws and regulations even exist? Is it easy for people to understand exactly what the rules are in their county, state, and on the federal level? 

On Monday October 19th, the Department of Transportation announced the creation of a task force that will make recommendations for a UAS, (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) registration process. The hope from the DOT is that registration will create more accountability, and responsibility for people that fly drones. The task force, which is comprised of representatives from the UAS industry, government, and other interested parties is expected to have their report completed by November 20th. Although many welcome and support safety and education for people that fly drones, it seems clear that the DOT is racing against the clock to prepare for the upcoming holidays, when it is estimated that over one million drones will be sold. At this point, it is not know if the registration process will provide resources, education, and tools for people to be safe flyers, or if it will be more heavy in regulation. 

As the government works to create a system to enforce safe flying, how much of the responsibility of education falls under the care of the manufactures? Drones have become increasingly accessible,  more affordable, and easier to use. Manufactures are marketing their drones to the masses. Should increased revenue come with increased responsibility? Some manufactures have links on their websites to Know Before You Fly or reference safe flying. DJI offers the New Pilot Experience, a free class though various authorized partners, which in part covers safe and responsible flying. What amount of obligation, if any, should private companies have in educating their buyers on safety, and regulations? Do consumers understand what they are buying, and what responsibilities come with their purchase if they are able to walk into a mall, or local big box store to but it?

Of course manufacturers can only do so much. As nice as it would be to have a personal one on one drone liaison with every purchase, it's not practical. When you purchase a car, the dealer does not go into length on local driving laws and proper safety. Links to websites, information about safety, classes, and manuals, only work if customers actually use them.  There is also something to be said for common sense, and courtesy for those around us. 

Over time, government, manufactures, and consumers will all take their place in safe and responsible drone ownership, and regulation. More information will be available after the task force has made their recommendations. Until then, for someone wanting to better understand flight regulations, the best resources are Know Before You Fly, as well as information from local and state government agencies. Before traveling, be sure to check local ordinances, and for possible no fly zones in the area you will be visiting to ensure a safe and worry-free adventure.   

Happy Flying!

 

 

Post No 1

By Kathleen Hickey

I wanted to make my first post for Sex Love and Drones a little personal. I didn't have the best childhood growing up. My father and mother had divorced when I was six, and I lived with my dad. Although he tried his best to be a good parent, he suffered from untreated PTSD. We moved from place to place, and at times were homeless.

To deal with the situation, I learned to use my imagination to take me away to different lands. I would close my eyes and imagine that I was actually a unicorn, or a mermaid in human form. I felt so sure as a child that I would beg my dad to take me to the beach. I knew as soon as I hit the water everyone would see that I was actually a mermaid. When I first saw the movie "Splash" I took all the salt we had and threw it into the bathtub, sat in the water, and waited. Obviously that method was flawed. After the unicorn and mermaid phase was a period in which I believed I lived on a star, and that I was from space. 

Fast forward to 2014. Although I had reconciled with the idea that I was in fact from Earth, I found myself in need of a way to express myself. I wanted to give back to the community, and put something positive out in the world.

Along came drones. I was initially very intimidated by the technology. I didn't understand how they worked. I didn't understand what drones were used for, or why people were flying them. The more I learned about drones, the more interested I became. 

Earlier this year I decided to start my website and blog. For someone that, at times, has trouble sending an email, the thought of building a website on the topic of drones was almost laughable. It has not been easy, but every time I faced an obstacle, or questioned what I was doing, I would see a video, or picture that moved me. When I would see a video shot with a drone, or beautiful pictures that could be captured in no other way, I feel like I did when I was a little girl. The wonder, passion, and curiosity of discovering, or rediscovering places that exist beyond my front door all came back to me. 

I am so thankful for the tremendous talent, vision, and positive examples in the drone community. Just as these great talents have shown me, I hope that one day I can help another person see beyond the unicorns and mermaids, and know that their own curiosity, inventiveness, imagination, and passion are enough.