Taking in the 2017 Drone National Championships at Purdue University

Yesterday I had a pretty cool assignment. I was sent to cover the 2017 Drone National Championships on the intramural fields at Purdue. This was the first ever event of its kind. Going into the event I was not sure what to expect. I brought my big glass knowing I was photographing small objects that would be far away, but I wondered how easy something capable of 80-100 mph would be to track. These things were quick, and I knew it would not be easy to capture them. I ended up just picking a zone for the drone to go through and waiting for them to come to me. Anything else would have made me dizzy along with all of the other things that would make it hard to do. That technique helped me make shots like the one above with a drone in both of the “windows” of an obstacle. One other thing that helped with the photo above was a lot of luck.

The Unbelievable Skills of the Pilots

These pilots were amazing. They were pulling off moves that I could not imagine trying. The speed at which they are reacting while looking through their goggles was just amazing to me. In the photo above you can see just how tight the racing was during the day. Passes were made in places where some pilots had trouble just piloting their drones through. This sport is just beginning, but I can’t wait to see where it goes.

More Than Just a Pilot

These pilots do much more than just fly their drone. They are also in charge of making sure that the drones are in perfect shape heading into the next race. Part of the fun on the day was watching what they were doing back in the pits. During an early delay I spent some time back there just watching everything that goes into getting one of these things up in the air. Before I left for the day I made my way back into the pits to get a few more tight shots of the pilots working on their drones.

A Great Hobby

I am not good enough to do any of the things necessary for this. I would probably crash the drone at the speeds they are flying it, and then I wouldn’t be able to get it back together. As I watched everything on the day I kept thinking about how much fun my brother would have had with this if he were still in school. This is right up his alley. I like to brag on him so I will say that his team won the inaugural EV Grand Prix at Purdue. Something like this would be great for his tinkering side, and then of course you get to fly the drone.

Fun For the Whole Family

This really was a fun event to attend. They had plenty of exhibits that the kids could play around with drones and the first person viewer. Add the actual racing into everything else, and you have a great time to spend with the family. The race was free to get into making it an easy decision for many families that I saw during the day.

My Drone Can’t Do That!

One reason they thought of me for this job was the fact that I fly a drone. My Phantom 4 Pro can do one thing just as fast as these little drones, and that is fall from the sky. I am sure that it would be doing just that if I tried taking it through that course on such a windy day. These things are light and powerful. That makes for a quick, fun ride for the pilot. I will just stick to trying not to hit the trees around my house.

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About Pinola Photo

I am a sports and lifestyle photographer based in West Lafayette, IN home of Purdue University. I cover sports for Big Ten teams as well as other colleges. You can follow me on twitter @pinolaphoto. You can also view my website at www.davewegielphoto.net

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