South American pilots got their chance to prove themselves a week ago, September 3-4 at Parque Padre Hurtado on the western fringe of Santiago, Chile. The sport has developed within their country the same way it has through much of the world, starting with grassroots efforts and building their way up to their first major national competition at the aforementioned park. The Chile Drone Nationals had pilots come from all over the country as well as from across the border in Peru and Argentina in order to compete for their spot at the Drone World Championships in Hawaii next month.
According to Alejandro Gatica, co-founder of Drones de Carrera Chile (Racing Drones Chile) as well as the organizer of this competition, it wasn’t very long ago when he was just with his friends making their way into unpopulated areas like parks and golf courses to race their drones against each other.
“It started with a YouTube video that I watched with my friend and it blew our minds, we went crazy,” explains Gatica. “We watched this video, ordered drone kits from China, built them, configured them and then did some flying and loved it. Using the first-person view system was like hallucinating. From there, we put LEDs on the drones and made a video of them flying at night and it went viral. Within two weeks, we had about 20 pilots who were interested in meeting up and getting involved and that’s how it got started.”
Nowadays, the scene has grown from the small gatherings to larger, more professional competitions with sponsors like the local telecommunication company Movistar. For this event, five of the competing pilots earned their spot to represent themselves as well as their country at the Drone Worlds. Felipe Vergara, Pablo Fernandez, Carlos Hartmann, José Venegas and Matias Arangua will be competing against the rest of the world.
Check out the the original article here for more information about the competition as well as the pilots who competed.