It’s thrilling traveling at 100 mph around a technical course, the excitement of drone racing is just getting started, an adventure any of us can enjoy. You may be thinking about taking your Mavic drone to the park to scoot around with your friends doing the same, which would be fun, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about small, tough, agile, high-speed machines with FPV cameras and goggles, going around highly technical, closed tracks at speeds that double or even triple the top speed of your Phantom drone.
There are many levels to drone racing, beginners can enjoy the sport with their local league, while the professionals are taking home million dollar prizes at world-class competitions. One thing remains true for all, you have to start somewhere, and if you are here, you are ready to learn what it takes to fly before you head out.
Warning – Early 2020: The FAA’s proposed Remote ID laws will be a serious pain for you. If you care to fly a racing drone outside in the future, keep tabs on things! Update – January 2021: The FAA has published the Remote ID requirements, things may be as much of a hassle for your racing drone as we first feared. Stay tuned for more info as the tech requirements roll out for Remote ID.
Already know your stuff? Here are the drones you’re looking for:
Drone racing things to know
What do you need to race?
Before we dive into the exciting drones that you could be speeding off with, let’s take a brief look at the additional info, tools and accessories you’ll need to get going.
As always, in the United States, any drone over 0.55 lbs needs to be registered with the FAA before flight. That said, the FAA governs outdoor flight, you are free to fly indoors without registration. The same goes for one of the most important FAA rules for sUAS, line-of-sight. Most racing drones use FPV goggles, which, technically, takes your eyes off of the drone itself. Look into the rules on having a spotter if you are flying outside.
Unofficially, representatives of the FAA have informed us that winning money from a drone race is considered being paid to fly. Officially, the FAA does not have rules on the books specific to drone racing. We have reached out to the FAA for confirmation, but if you are planning to participate in an outdoor race for which you can win money, we would like to recommend you consider getting your Part 107 drone license and treating the flight as a commercial operation. This is a developing topic, stay tuned for more info.
Finally, the FAA says your drone is limited to a top speed of 100 mph. It is very difficult to beat this speed on a technical course, but many of these racers are capable of topping 100 mph given the chance.
Drone legal and safety
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.