HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – There’s some high flying fun at the Erie County Fair this year!
The North American Drone Masters began its qualifying race for the 2019 FAI World Championship at the fair Saturday. Pilots from across America came to the Queen City with custom made drones to see who can take home the grand prize.
“The pilots here are insane, so it’s going to be just whose day it is and I’m excited to give everything I have and see if it’s enough to keep up with these great pilots here in Buffalo,” said competitor Evan Turner.
More than 30 pilots tried their luck flying across the track in hopes to advance to the finales on Sunday.
“They have a two minute race to post their fastest three consecutive laps. Most of these pilots are doing about seven laps so it can be their first three, last three, or middle three,” said race director Joe Scully of MultiGP Drone Racing.
Once there, they”ll compete in a double elimination bracket to get to the finale four where The winner receives $ 10,000 dollars.
Scully says drone racing has grown in popularity since the U.S. Nationals Competition at the California State Fair in 2015. He says the draw is the intense experience racers while flying up to 80 mph.
“When the pilots put their goggles on over their faces, they are literally transported into the cockpit. As soon as they hit the controller on their radio they feel that force. You’ll see the pilots moving around and rocking in their seats because it’s a truly immersive experience,” Scully said.
Evan Turner 16, has been flying Radio Controlled Planes sine he was six years old and came from Tennessee to participate in the event. Turner has won several tournaments and is going into Sunday’s race with the top time.
“This is somewhere that I’ve never really been before and competed in a race so it’s a new environment for me. I really like it here. Buffalo is a beautiful city, New York is a beautiful state and I’m just super excited to be here,” Turner said.
The final round of races will be held Sunday, August 11 at 5 p.m. in front of the grandstand.