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“Really taking off” - Drone club holds first indoor race

PUBLISHED: 08:46 02 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:22 03 December 2018

From left to right: Gary Boulter, Ian Lowe, Carl Snowden, Tony Parrott, Graham Williamson. Members of Norfolk FPV (First Person View) drone flying club

From left to right: Gary Boulter, Ian Lowe, Carl Snowden, Tony Parrott, Graham Williamson. Members of Norfolk FPV (First Person View) drone flying club

Archant

A county-wide drone group has held their first indoor racing event.

Norfolk First Person View (FPV) conducted the race, which had around 20 participants, at Pegasus Model Shop in Norwich.

First Person View refers to using a FPV video link of the drone’s progress, using goggles or an LCD screen. The group often use aircrafts called Tiny Whoops.

Graham Williamson, Norfolk FPV leader, said: “Flying is getting very big, it’s something that’s really taking off. It’s a fantastic community as well, with people from all walks of life. Most of my friends now are through flying with this group.

“It was our first time to race around the Pegasus Model Shop, which also sponsors us. We made it quite fun, and it’s a bit more competitive than usual. We did a live stream on Facebook too for the people that couldn’t be there.”

From left to right: Gary Boulter, Ian Lowe, Carl Snowden, Tony Parrott, Graham Williamson. Members of Norfolk FPV (First Person View) drone flying clubFrom left to right: Gary Boulter, Ian Lowe, Carl Snowden, Tony Parrott, Graham Williamson. Members of Norfolk FPV (First Person View) drone flying club

Norfolk FPV, which is self funded, has amassed almost 200 members over the three years Mr Williamson has been at the helm, and has members aged between 15 and 70.

The 46-year-old father, from Old Catton said: “When I came in three years ago the group was struggling a bit, but I’ve doubled it now. I’m very enthusiastic! We often have free styling events, where we fly aircrafts through abandoned buildings.

“A lot of people don’t realise that the drones we’re flying don’t have GPS, but it’s very minimal technology.

“Drones get quite bad publicity and obviously there’s always one stupid person that ruins it for everyone!

“That being said, we haven’t had a backlash at all. One time we were practicing and a lady in her 70s was walking her dog past us and ended up trying the goggles on, and she was amazed!

“It’s difficult, but you can’t hurt anyone. We are super conscious of health and safety, and we don’t fly high, we rarely fly above 40ft. When people have the googles on there’s always someone keeping an eye on things.

“It’s also a lot cheaper than you would think. You can buy an aircraft for around £80, and if people are broke, nine out of 10 times you will get a member say they have a spare you can borrow.

“Quite often we fly on land just off of the NDR road, and we are getting more and more private land to use.”

Norfolk FPV mostly focuses on FPV racing and freestyle flying.

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