Drone races returning to museum


FAIRBORN — Micro Drone racing is back for its fifth annual race at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Races will take place March 1-3 with room for spectators and a drone giveaway.

The races will begin March 1 at 9 a.m., with two sets of seven races ending at 4:30 p.m. Day two will follow the same schedule and round out the qualifying rounds for the final day of racing on March 3. Winners of the first two days will compete in either the Sport Class or Pro Class (depending on experience), and the final race of the day is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.

The track for these drones is like last year’s, and will include going through and around the C-124 Globemaster II and Twin Mustang aircraft in the museum’s second building. Visitors will also be able to see the race live on a big screen and streaming video directly from the drone’s point-of-view on the course.

The drones, just a couple inches in length, connect to a remote control and camera-visor racers wear on their face. This futuristic method of racing gives the racer better control over the drone, and the spectator a more entertaining picture.

There will be an award ceremony following the final races March 3. Last year, cash prizes were handed out totalling $3,000 altogether, along with plaques for the winners of each class.

Jesse Perkins is the founder of these micro drone races (called Tiny Whoops), and came up with the idea in late 2015. He and Kele Stanley co-organize the event each year, and said they hope to grow the sport as technology and awareness continues to spread.

The race is by pre-registration only, but visitors have the opportunity to experience some hands-on activities during the races as well.

From 12-4 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, visitors will be able to experience flying a drone thanks to a Sinclair Community College Unmanned Ariel Systems (UAS) computer program. The museum’s Education Division will be onsite with other computer-based simulation opportunities, and Workhorse Aero will be onsite with displays of its drone delivery systems.

On top of activities and a learning experience, a free drawing for a drone giveaway will be available thanks to support from the Air Force Museum Foundation. One winner will be chosen at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors must be present to win.

Reach Ethan Charles at 937-372-4444.

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