It’s the new ‘Star Wars’ hobby taking the model flying world by storm.
And this weekend spectators turned out to watch competitors zip round the woods of a Prestwich park in what could soon be an official sport: drone racing.
These amazing pictures show eager pilots trying navigate the twists and turns of the UK’s first purpose-built FPV drone racing course in Drinkwater Park.
FPV stands for ‘First Person View’ and competitors wear wrap-around goggles with a video link so they can see steer in and out of the trees – and avoid crashing into the other drones. Up to four pilots took part in each race with drones – also known as quadcopters – hovering at around 4-6 feet from the ground.
Drones can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour but on the hairy bends of Drinkwater, it was a case of slow and steady wins the race. Only pilot Phil Miller, from Little Lever, was able to navigate the course without crashing into a tree and win overall.
Warren Sherman, chair of Bury Metro Model Flying Club, who organised the event with the FPV Racing Association, said drone-racing is already taking the hi-tech world by storm. “I think it’s becoming so popular because of computer games,” Warren said.
“We had about 100 people spectators at the race on Saturday as well as our 14 competitors. “It’s because it’s so exciting to watch. It’s a really tricky course and there were a lot of collisions but that’s all part of the fun. “They’re pretty tough pieces of technology and can start up and re-join the race almost immediately.
“The pilots really had to take their time and that’s how Phil managed to win it.” Enthusiasts have developed the technology – and the rules – for FPV drone racing in underground events over the last few years, attracting fans via high speed videos on YouTube which often look like something in a computer game.
It is hoped that a FPV drone racing league will be set up in the next year with clubs around the country competing in events. The new drone track at Drinkwater was set up with the permission of the Forestry Commission, who own the land.