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!