With recent advancements in drone technology that has made it more affordable for casual hobbyists, racing has become a new fad that can be enjoyed by many.
Trent Tharp, a science teacher at Rockwall High School, is the sponsor of the drone racing club at his campus. He said he first got into racing after he bought his son, Zach, his drone.
Though he has only been racing since December of last year, Tharp is fully onboard and can often be found practicing with his team in local parks.
“I got it to it because of my boys,” Tharp said. “I bought a little drone for them, and they loved it. And it was also something fun that I could do with them.”
In addition to racing with his team at the high school, Tharp also races with an independent team that is part of Dallas Drone Racing.
Admittedly, Tharp said drone racing isn’t the cheapest hobby. He, however, added that the costs behind acquiring a racing drone have gone down dramatically in recent years.
“This right here is cheaper than me playing golf. That’s for sure,” Tharp said.
The organization holds tournaments and qualifiers for racers who are looking to put their speed to the test.
Joaquin Ybanez, a Royse City High School student, is one of the fastest drone racers on Tharp’s team. In fact, he’s one of the fastest racers in the nation.
He told the Royse City Herald-Banner that he would like to see more people in the area take part in drone racing.
“I used to race RC cars, so I was used to the idea of racing,” Ybanez said. “I was at the track one day and I saw a drone and got to fly it. That’s the day I started racing drones.”
Racers wear goggles that show the view of the front of the drone. The size of drones can vary depending on the type of competition.
To the naked eye, drones appear to move as fast as a bird. The sound that drones make as they zip through obstacles resembles the noise of a bee buzzing past.
“It is a unique experience,” Ybanez said. “Even though I’m going faster than I would be in a RC car race, it’s like a weird calming feeling when I’m flying. Not many toys go 130 mph, you know?”
And despite drone racing not being an official UIL competition, Ybanez said he wants to popularize the hobby as an extracurricular. He said he plans to start a drone racing club at Royse City High School near school year.
“This hobby takes a special type of person, because you have to build the drone, you have to repair it, and you have to really care about your craft,” Ybanez said.