NEWS: Underground drone racing taking off in Australia

Aviation enthusiasts across Australia are gathering in derelict warehouses to race custom-built drones in a new sport that is flying under the strict laws that regulate the aircraft.

Manie Kohn pilots his Quadcopter at a home in Hillsborough, Cali. on Wednesday, November 6, 2013. Kohn runs a business that uses a drone to make aerial videos of real estate. (Photo: Martin E. Klimek for USA TODAY)

While the use of unmanned aerial vehicles is closely governed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), many racers meet for their games of drones indoors, putting them out of reach of the regulator.

First Person View (FPV) racing involve participants using goggles to give them a drone’s-eye view as they zip around their makeshift circuits at speeds of up to 60km/h.

Drone racer Darren French likened the experience to playing a video game and said just like gaming it’s addictive.

“The more you do it the more you want to fly,” he told the ABC.

Despite the sport’s underground status it is gaining popularity in Australia and one FPV racer has even earned a trip to California, where he is sponsored to compete in the US National Drone Championships next month.

“I’m going over there to have fun, to meet friends that I know on forums. If I do well then it’s a bonus. It’s an experience of a lifetime for me,” Chad Nowak said..

Mr Nowak flies full sized aircraft but said that drones allow him to attempt things he would never dare in the cockpit.

“There’s no way you would catch me in my glider flying between two trees because if I get it wrong I’m going to end up in a coffin,” he said.

“But with something like this, I can go out there and do it, and if I get it wrong, the worst thing that happens is that I have to rebuild the frame.”

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