Drone racers ready to take off
Boise Group Pushes to use Les Bois Race Track
As fast as drone racing is spreading across the country and around the world it cannot get here to Boise fast enough for me. The drone industry in general, is booming and technology advances every day but the drone racing industry is taking giant steps and they are looking to make a footprint here in Boise by 2017.
There already is a community of drone racers in the Boise area that race competitively and individual pilots in the area that are competing nationally but it is far from being organized yet. However, a group from a local business Thrust-UAV is working to bring a qualifier race to the Western Idaho Fair in 2017. This could be a win-win for not only the drone racing community but for local businesses as well.
Boise community leaders, with their infinite wisdom, somehow managed to drive the horse racing industry out of the state which leaves a beautiful race track with grandstands and all that go with it sitting there accumulating dust.
Everything there including Grand Stand
"The grandstand would be a perfect place for this," said Bob Batista, "It gets you up [above the track], it gets shade so you can use the LED lights on the drones as they do race."
For those people unfamiliar with drone racing these are highly competitive custom made racing drones that can fly up to 80 mph. Racers control the drone with a remote control and wear goggles that puts the pilot in the racer’s seat.
"It's kind of like virtual reality," said Conrad Miller, a nationally ranked drone racer based in Boise. "So we're flying just from the perspective of the drone itself. I've got my little camera up front, and that just transmits a picture right back to the goggles."
Miller started racing drones back in 2014 when he discovered the sport on YouTube.
"For me, it's about the competition," he said. "When you put the goggles on, it kind of tricks your mind into thinking you're flying around in the air. You get that same intensity, that same rush as you get from any action sport you can think of. It's not uncommon to pull off the goggles and be completely out of breath."
Miller found a couple of others who raced competitively in Boise early on, and together, they started a Facebook page to bring the Treasure Valley's racing community together.
Team Thrust Spearheading Drone Racing in Boise
The group at Thrust-UAV, the company that manufactures competitive drones, calls themselves 'Team Thrust.' Many of them compete in races around the country, in addition to weekly races at local parks or other open spaces. Many racers say it took them several months to get good at the emerging sport.
"The hardest part is controlling your altitude," Miller said. "With a car, you only have to worry about going forward, back, left and right. But when you're flying, you have to worry about your vertical, so it adds a third dimension."
Thrust-UAV founder Ernest Duarte told KBOI 2News the market for the product has taken off in the last couple of years, as has the sport itself.
'"It's kind of blown up," said Duarte, who races each week with other local enthusiasts. "It's insane. Before, we'd get a couple of people a month, now we get six, seven, eight, nine or 10 new members a month, so it's pretty fun."
Easy to Become Addicted to Rapidly Growing Sport
Many competitors say they're addicted to the thrill of the sport, which is growing in popularity around the world.
"Competing against all of these other people, it's really addicting," Duarte said.
"Let's say you're averaging 50 miles per hour, what you're seeing in the goggles from that perspective, it feels like you're going 100 miles per hour," Miller said. "Full speed these would go about 80 miles per hour."
Thrust-UAV is working with Batista to bring a qualifying competition to Les Bois Park. Racers say it would be a great way to get the sport off the ground in the Treasure Valley, and to bring a new type of race to the former horse-racing track.
"I think next year we should be able to put on something pretty spectacular," Miller said.
Duarte told KBOI 2News the plan for the Western Idaho Fair in 2017 would include live feeds that are broadcast into the stands, to give spectators a first-person view of the action.
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