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Drones take flight

Unmanned aerial vehicles have been a mainstay of military life for some time.

But the phenomenon now stretches much further than Forces circles, with drones readily available for use in a variety of capacities in the civilian world.

So to see the pursuit rapidly evolve into the sporting sphere has come as no surprise.

Drone racing began as an amateur discipline in late 2014 but a significant spike in interest and investment over the past two years has led to the creation of highly competitive international leagues, with the winner of the last World Championships in Dubai scooping 250,000 US dollars in prize money.

And this is anything but a traditional sport.

Participants control drones equipped with cameras while wearing head-mounted displays showing a live stream from the device. They then steer the craft with handheld controls.

Similar to full-size air racing, the goal is to complete a set course in the quickest time possible. Events are often held at night with the track – and drones – illuminated by bright lights, while footage from the top stars attracts hundreds of thousands of views on various YouTube channels.

With such excitement emanating from the emerging sport the Army is getting involved courtesy of racers from the Royal Artillery.

The brainchild of drone enthusiast Maj Karl Eze, the set-up already boasts almost 40 members from a host of cap badges, with regular training sessions held in the skies around Larkhill.

The team defeated the Royal Air Force in a special challenge match in the summer and plans are now in place for a rapid expansion over the coming years.

“It is about getting the publicity out there so more people can get involved,” Eze (pictured left) told Soldier.

“Once they get confident in what they are doing, and we have four or five guys from each cap badge, we can look at forming corps teams.

“That is what we need if we are to go to the Army Sports Control Board and seek sporting status within the Service.


Read the full story in the October issue…


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