So, what’s it like to strap on a pair of goggles and race a drone? If you asked today’s guest, he’d sum it up with one word – Incredible.
Paul Baur is a UAS Consultant and a competitive drone pilot. He’s been racing for more than a year, competing in organized drone races in the United States and Canada. On this episode of the Drone Radio Show, Paul talks about how he got started with drone racing, the advantages of having sponsors, what it’s like to race a drone competitively and what it takes to stay on top in this rapidly growing sport. If you have dreams of serious drone racing, then you’re going to want to hear what Paul has to say.
In This Episode
- [01:24] Introduction to Paul Baur
- [01:39] Entry Into Drone Racing. Like many competitive drone racers, Paul started by racing with friends wherever they could. Drone racing re-ignited Paul’s excitement for RC flying. Paul has been flying competitively for more than a year, but he’s been flying RC for 12 years. Once he completed that first race, he was hooked.
- [03:55] Transition to Competitive Racing. He met some other competitive drone racers and sponsors, who helped him enter competitive arena. He did well and picked up sponsors along the way. Today, he follows all of the events in the United States and Canada, racing whenever he can.
- [05:19] Behind the Goggles. Paul describes what it’s like to fly a first-person view drone. He likens it to a real life video game. He feels movement as if he really is flying. Being totally immersed into the system during the race, he feels like he’s part of the system. Through a lot of practice, he’s develop muscle memory for flying, where many of the moves are instinctive and responsive to the environment. He’s racing every chance he can get, every month. Practicing is 2-3 days per week at 5-6 hour time periods, pushing himself on a variety of course layouts and challenges.
- [09:19] Competitive Pressure. The sport is growing with more sponsors and money every month. Paul feels the pressure to stay on top, to perform for his sponsors and team and to fight off the younger pilots who enter the sport fresh off years of playing video games.
- [10:29] What Makes A Great Drone Pilot. Mental maturity is the key attribute of successful drone pilots – having patience, being precise and not letting others get you out of your game. A race is boils down to a battle of the pilot with himself to push themselves within their own comfort zone as much as possible, and not make mistakes.
- [12:11] The Drones. By far, most drone pilots build their drones so they can make the drone fit their own personal style and fly the way they want it. Paul has been building his own drones for five years. For racing drones, he focuses on the details and makes sure that his drone can be repaired quickly during a race if need be.
- [13:48] Team Racing. Paul shares his thoughts on racing on a team, rather than solo, as more and more races, like the Drone World Prix, are adopting this format. Paul compares the format to auto racing.
- [15:46] Race Game. Paul’s prefers the long sweeping faster tracks with a highly technical section. He’s more suited to speed, where drones can go 80-85 mph.
- [16:28] Importance of Sponsors. Paul is currently sponsored by Cobra Motors, USA; Horizon Hobby via Spectrum RC and Amatan Quads (sp). The role of sponsors can’t be underestimated as they allow the pilot to be more focused without worry of damaging their drones.
- [17:42] Custom Builds. Paul and his partner Paragon UAV, where drone racing components are sold on line. The components are designed for the harshest of race conditions.
- [19:17] Advice to New Racers. Paul shares some advice to those seeking to become drone racers – start small and practice, practice and practice. Move up to more sophisticated models and recognize it will take time. Need to be patient.
- [20:24] Race Evolution. Since Paul began racing drones, the events have evolved in terms in the technology, organization and understanding of how to set up for a drone race. There’s a lot more experience behind the races, more industry representatives and smaller technology and more organized events. The World Drone Prix is a perfect example of how drone racing has evolved.
- [23:09] Fan Base. The fan base for the races is typically made up of industry representatives, but its similar to X-Games, BMX and video games. The challenge is finding an angle that will appeal to a broad fan base.
- [24:28] The Drone Racing Spirit. Paul comments on the fact that despites the competitive nature of drone racing, pilots and teams are incredibly friendly and supportive of each other even during the race. He theorizes its an outgrowth of the RC modeler’s world, where pilots have always been eager and welcoming to help newcomers learn to fly and understand the hobby.
- [26:01] Time Commitment. Paul spends nearly all of his time either racing drones or working as a UAS consultant. But to him, its not work, because the day his hobby became his work, he gave up time counting the hours.
- [26:31] The Future. Paul sees a lot of educational benefits in UAS and drone racing. And he looks forward to the day when drone races fill stadiums. He’s hoping to be a part of that movement. His call sign, for those who want to follow him, is SkinlabFPV.
- [27:49] Closing
- Paragon UAV (www.paragonuav.com)
- Cobra Motors USA (www.cobramotorsusa.com)
- Spektrum RC (www.spektrumrc.com)
- Armattan Quads (www.armattanquads.com)
- Paul Baur’s “SkinlabFPV” YouTube Channel
Paul Baur doing a little FPV practice.
ReadyMadeRC Air Race in Clinton, Ontario Canada slow laps around the track before the races.