For milennia, man has looked to the skies and dreamed of flying up and away into that infinite sea of blue. With the progress of technology and the advance of mechanical engineering it is now possible to enjoy that dream of flying in your very own back yard. In Bacolod City, a group of enthusiasts have boldly blazed a trail into the exciting world of drones and drone racing.
A drone is a mechanical remote controlled gadget that can fly. Controlled by a remote control device and fitted with electronics and cameras, drones have become extremely popular in picture taking, in surveilance and now people have created a new extreme sport – racing drones.
The father and pioneer of Racing drones in Bacolod is Vince Muyco, a tall, soft spoken man who is a banker on weekdays and a drone pilot and mechanic on weekends. Vince first got into drone racing by watching his father fly RC planes. Soon, Vince and his wife Riza Muyco began running their REDTAIL hobby shop – a shop that sells all sorts of hobby aircraft out of his house and also established ROTOR-WORX; A group of like-minded enthusiasts that fly drones and RC planes over the weekends.
When Vince and his friends picked me up to bring me over to their weekly drone flying session, I was in for a really special treat. Out on Circumferential road as we drove; we flew a drone.
Drone piloting can be done in two ways – by normally looking at the drone as it flies or with special goggles that lets you see through a camera mounted on the drone. Vince chose the latter form of control as he flew the drone from inside the car as his friends drove. The drone hit top speeds of around 80 mph as he zipped through wires and branches that overhung the road. It was both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. Since the drone was not limited to the confines of the road, it easily outpaced our car which was going at a speedy 60 miles per hour!
We soon arrived at the field that Vince’s group had designated as their practice site.
I soon made friends with all of the Rotor-worx crew. They were a friendly, tightly-knit group that soon opened up to me about their experiences with Drones and flying. Every weekend this group would get together and leave behind their careers to pursue their hobby of flying and soaring among the clouds.
Ray shares the video feed of his drone as he sends it up for a quick flight around the field.
As the group flew their drones – their stories came spilling out. All of them shared a passion for electronics and tinkering. All were in love with flying. I couldn’t help but be drawn to Cherry Layson, the only girl in the group. Despite being the only woman in an activity dominated by the male sex. Cherry had participated recently in the 2016 Philippine Aeromodellers Nationals and her piloting skills is a match for even Ray, a retired USA airforce pilot.
I chatted with JM, Mon, Neil and James. All of them loved tinkering and machines. They shared a love for flying and got into the hobby by watching videos on the internet. Mon told me that drones and hobby flying is not an expensive hobby to get into. Like all hobbies – at first when you start out you have to shell out a lot for equipment however the enjoyment you would get from that investment would be much more, definitely worth the price you paid.
The Rotor-worx group was busy practicing for an upcoming tournament. Stakes inserted in the earth became an impromptu obstacle course designed to develop the group’s dexterity and coordination in piloting their drones.
There were crashes and bumps and mishaps. However no one was upset! Everyone had big smiles as they gave each other advice on piloting and tips on how to improve. It was like being with one big happy family. There was no negativity whatsoever – everybody didn’t mind little crashes and bumps. I felt quite happy as I watched this amazing group send their drones zip around the impromptu obstacle course. It was a beautiful moment when Mon sent up his little spitfire plane and it soared among the clouds.