Australian drone racer Chad Nowak last week became the sport’s first official world champion – and he did it by taking a clean sweep of all three titles.
Nowak, from Brisbane, headed for California last week on the back of a generous sponsor and aiming to “have fun” at the first US National Drone Racing Championships.
Late last week, he was crowned winner of the freestyle, team and individual champion races in an event that was only open to internationals to boost its inaugural showing.
For the uninitiated, drone racing is a relatively new sport that’s growing in popularity mainly due to the organisational efforts of Nowak and his mates on the eastern seaboard of Australia.
They meet regularly in underground carparks and abandoned warehouses, away from the public and CASA’s strict outdoor regulations, where they race mini quadcopters at speeds of anywhere between 60-160km/h around pylons and other obstacles.
Technically, they pilot the quadscopters, which are controlled using an on-board camera with the video streamed back to a pair of goggles. Nowak and his fellow pilots are virtually in the cockpit. Here’s what that looks like:
Nowak’s been into it for barely a year. Now he’s on top of the world after knocking off 100 pilots across the three events and collecting around $15,000 in prizemoney.
“I’m still in a bit of disbelief. I went there to have fun so to win everything, I’m gobsmacked,” he told ABC’s Lateline.
He also paid back his sponsor immersion RC handsomely by helping its team to a world title as well.
Nowak said a solid video feed proved a big help. Here’s what his run in the freestyle event looked like through his own eyes: