When you think of the National Championship Air Races (also known as the Reno Air Races), you think of amazing aerial demonstrations from some of the best stunt pilots around, flying multiple different types of planes. The event first took place in 1964, featuring multi-lap, multi-aircraft races across huge courses which nowadays span between 3 to 8 miles. There are numerous different classes that pilots can compete in, including Biplane, F1, Unlimited, and more.
However, 2016 is the very first year for drone pilots to prove their skill at the event, having their own course ready and acknowledged by the institution. The University of Nevada, Reno’s Drone Zone hosted the race over the past few days (September 15-17). Three-minute long qualifying rounds were held over the first couple of days, followed up by the five-minute long final race on Saturday.
Director Warren Rapp talked about how he didn’t expect too many pilots to participate in the first year they made the race available but was interested in introducing drone technologies to the over 8,000 expected attendees.
“Being able to take a drone or robot and be able to put it in a place where a human might not be able to go and virtually, through goggles, be able to guide it to whatever your objective is,” Rapp said.