Erie County Fair to host Drone Racing Championships

Top drone pilots in Western Hemisphere will race to for chance to appear in World Cup

Mike Baggerman
May 14, 2019 - 5:29 pm

Drones at Erie County Fair. May 14, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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HAMBURG, N.Y. (WBEN) - The North American Drone Masters will compete for the top prize in North America at this year's Erie County Fair.

This year's fair runs from August 7-18 while the drone racing competition will be August 10 and 11 at the racetrack.

"The North American Drone Masters will be one of only three internationally sanctioned masters races during 2019," Marty Biniasz of the Erie County Fair said. "The other race is taking place in Barcelona, Spain and Seoul, South Korea. In addition to a $10,000 purse of prizes here at the fairgrounds, the top three contenders at the Erie County Fair Masters Drone Race will be able to go to the world champion grand finale in China later this November."

The drone racing tournament at the fair will be free for anyone attending this year's fair. The qualifying heats will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on August 10 while the grand finale is that Sunday at 7 p.m.

Biniasz described the course as a tight, hair-pinned turns and straightaways that can compensate drone speeds of up to 80 miles per hour.

Viewers of the drone racing will be a safe distance away while netting will also be added to ensure safety.

No Limit FPV owner William Aumer said drone races are fun for the family, with some of the best racers in the world yet to hit their teenage years.

"The drones are raced by FPV (first-person view)," he explained. "All the pilots are wearing a set of virtual reality goggles. There's a camera on the front of the drones. That's how they're flying them. It's as if they're sitting inside the drone."

Drone racing began to hit the mainstream audiences about five years ago when it was featured on ESPN.

"It's kind of been an underground thing where a lot of these nerds have gotten into the programming of these flight controllers," he said. "They've got to design their own boards and motors because this stuff just didn't exist. Now that they've caught the attention via social media, it has started to explode. You start to see professional leagues grow...Now we're seeing a broader audience coming in. It's not just an underground thing kids are doing in there basement."

Last year's winning prize for the drone racing championship was $24,000.

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