Baltimore's first drone racing league is taking flight

Inaugural race happening Saturday, April 1st
Posted at 6:30 PM, Mar 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 06:48:35-04

Racing at nearly 100 MPH without moving an inch.  Competitive drone flying is catching the eyes of techies with fast reflexes.

And now it's coming to Charm City.

"Drone racing is one of the world's hottest new sports," said Eno Umoh.

Umoh and his partner, Austin Brown, run the FAA-certified drone company Global Air Media.

The duo thinks the screaming battles in the sky are the perfect fit for the youth here in Baltimore.  So they're launching the city's first drone racing league that will pit clubs against each other in tournaments.

"The kids will build their drones, they'll race them against each other, and at the end of the season we'll have a championship," Brown said.

"We wanted to create a recreational style league,” said Umoh. “Just like football or basketball you would sign up, get a uniform, get our materials and you come out and race during events."

To recruit members they're running drone camps and workshops after school. Getting teens excited for swift soaring, and bobbing and weaving in and out of obstacles. They’re also designed to stoke kids' interest in the science, engineering and technology that play a role in getting the devices off the ground.

It's a whole other level to the hobby, with a goal of changing lives. The racers build their own drones, giving them first-hand knowledge about the machine.

"Like soldering the circuit boards, figuring out which sized motor you need to make your drone faster,” Umoh said. “These are all skills that you use and tinker with to make your drone better."

"To see a kid start from pretty much nothing, just a frame, put it together, put the components together, come to understand what it means to fly and then see them actually fly, that's the most rewarding part of our experience," said Brown.

They hope to launch the drone racing league this summer, but you can catch some high-flying excitement this weekend at the inaugural Baltimore Drone Prix.

Racers with pre-made quad-copters will pilot their units wearing first-person view goggles, giving them the feeling they're in the cockpit while flying.

"It's just gonna be something that nobody's ever seen before, so very excited about it," said Umoh.

The Baltimore Drone Prix will be at Open Works at 1400 Greenmount Avenue.  The event is Saturday, April 1 and runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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