Drone Racing Becoming Popular in Minnesota, North Dakota
MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) — Drone racing is taking off as a rapidly growing sport driven by pilots, thrill seekers and tinkerers in places in Minnesota and North Dakota.
The Quad Squad Fargo-Moorhead club brings together drone enthusiasts from Moorhead, Minnesota and sister city of Fargo, North Dakota. Drones typically have four-propellers and are about a foot wide.
Drone pilots wear special goggles that allow them to see video from the drone's camera. Pilots then navigate a course made up of flags and gates as many times as possible within two minutes.
"It's the closest you can get to, I guess, actual racing in cars and stuff — without the problem of dying, possibly," said Gary Ferguson, a drone racer.
Tony Bjerke started the group a few years ago after learning about drone racing leagues. The club has about three dozen members, the majority of whom are men.
"If you've ever thought to yourself, you know, 'What would it be like to be a bird flying around the trees and over the landscape?' That's what this gives you," Bjerke said.
Members have a range of ages and experience.
"Most of us are all tinkerers at heart," Bjerke said. "This is just another thing to tinker with and wrench-on and do that stuff."
Darrin Devine said drone racing has given him a way to race though he thought he'd never be able to again. He grew up racing motorcycles, but began a quadriplegic when he broke his neck during a motor cross race.
"Racing has always been something I enjoy doing a lot and (drone racing is) absolutely like being racing again," Devine said. "You get the same type of adrenaline rush. It's the two minutes out of the wheelchair, having fun being just another racer."
Club members race each other, but also compete against clubs from the Twin Cities, Duluth and Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Racers say gear costs about $1,200, though many spend more to build their drones.