(by Osmond Chua)
Before becoming a must-have for photographers and videographers who would like to level-up their game, drones used to be a cool spy gadget or an extra equipment for sci-fi fight scenes that we only see in movies. It’s amazing how these small aerial vehicles became a new source of entertainment from aerial light shows, drone photography, and even races!
Usually, drones are used for taking breathtaking photos and videos from the sky; often used in travel videos and outdoor events, but hobbyists are also joining races worldwide. We have friends – both young and old – who have been part of such, but we never had the chance to watch live until now at the Game of Drones: 2nd Flight — the country’s biggest drone competition. Drones took off last Sunday (May 26, 2018) with high-flying teams coming together at The Bike Playground, the city’s newest entertainment and lifestyle destination that has become a haven for those who love one-of-a-kind adventures.
Game of Drones: 2nd Flight is one such event, providing FPV (First-Person View) Pilots and drone enthusiasts an opportunity to show off their flying skills without having to wander far from the city, thanks to The Bike Playground’s wide-open spaces which is ideal for those who love to fly drones.
The moment we arrived at the venue, we can already see people holding remote controls, wearing VR like goggles, and we were honestly clueless at first. We took a closer look at the drones and noticed that there were cameras installed in each of them. To our understanding, the cameras serve as the pilot’s eyes and the goggles are used for their vision.
Displayed also were the drones of each participant. Each drone was unique — from color and type of propeller, to the shape and size of the body itself.
The Different Games
The contest covers three categories- Time Trial, Rotorcross finals, and Drone Photography. All of which allowed participants to battle in various contests for supremacy of the skies.
Time Trial is a spec/open class category, where competitors raced to fly their drone across the 300-meter track. With up to four pilots per race, the winner who flew their drone within the shortest time takes home a cash prize of P30,000.
There is no age requirement/restriction to be part of the competition. One of the youngest and fastest participants in the time trial contest is 7-year-old CJ Pags. You can see the determination and focus on his face as he flew his drone across the track.
Rotocross is a spec class game. For this, participants were again grouped into batches of four for the elimination round. They flew their drones through a marked course, and the racers who finished first per batch moved up the ladder of elimination. In the evening, the finals were held to determine the Rotocross Champion. The winner will be receiving P20,000, plus items from sponsors.
Even as night time approaches, the racers are still in their A-game to finish the competition.
Drone Photography is an opportunity for photography enthusiasts to take breathtaking aerial shots within the Circulo Verde vicinity. The top ten submitted entries were shown at the venue for judging. It was hard for us to determine which one is the best, so we’re pretty sure it was hard for the judges to pick just one as well!
The Triumphant Few
Time Trial: Jerico Taleon flew his drone within the shortest time took home a cash prize of P30,000. Runners-up were Marlon Caras and Mark Cometa.
Rotocross: Repeat winner Jerico Taleon received a P20,000, a trophy, plus items from sponsors. Runners-up were Danny Formentera and Axlsoy Godinez.
Drone Photography: Out of the top ten entries, Lawrence Samaco emerged victorious with an instant P5,000 cash prize.
The Newbie Lessons
Who says only the participants get to have all the fun? We were also given the chance to fly a drone! Well, it’s a mini-drone to be more accurate. Since we’re just beginners, we won’t be flying the big-boy’s drone with the camera and goggles. A representative from Propel conducted the tutorial and taught us the basics of activating the drone, lifting, and hovering.
Propel’s ATOM 1.0 Micro Drone was used for the demonstration, and we were all given a chance to try and hover it on the table. It was a fun and exciting experience because it’s not every day you get to fly a drone. Not only were we able to have a taste of flying a drone, we were also given each an ATOM 1.0 Micro Drone to take home!
There’s a sense of satisfaction when lifting the drone from the ground and freely flying it to the direction that you want. We can somehow get a sense of what the pilots felt while flying their drone, especially since they get to see what the drone sees. Being able to experience the gift of flight is truly amazing.