There’s something new in the air at The Hun School of Princeton. The Hun Drone Club meets each week to learn the art of racing the small, unmanned aircraft.
Drone Racing Club members practice maneuvering the drones through obstacle courses as quickly as possible. Faculty advisor and Associate Director of Technology Mark Davies says the club’s goal is to start a competitive league with like-minded schools, as well as encourage hands-on-learning as students maintain, repair, and even build, the devices.
“It’s like robotics, but in the air,” said Mr. Davies, referring to FIRST Robotics, in which student teams build a robot and then maneuver it through an obstacle course at competitions. “Fly, crash, repair, repeat, is a mantra of drone racing.”
“It’s so much fun, you’re flying something that is so small and so powerful,” said Koray Bektas ’20, a club member who flies his own micro-drone at home and enjoys building computers in his spare time. “Flying a drone well is difficult; there is definitely a level of mastery.”
The club which also is advised by Director of Technology Jim Huffaker, works with the Hubson X4 training drone, which is small and easily maneuvered, and Walkera F210 FPV racing drones. Slightly larger and more difficult to control, the Walkera drones utilize First Person View (FPV), whereby racers wearing goggles can “drive” the drones, as if they are onboard.
Hun’s Drone Racing Club using training drones predominantly, with occasional use of the trickier, faster, F210s and goggles. “We’re working up to using the racers,” said Mr. Davies. The club maneuvers the drones in Shipley Pavilion, and occasionally outside.
The sport of drone racing has gone international, with the formation of the Drone Racing League, whose events host the best drone racers in the world. They maneuver their craft at high speeds through urban buildings, large arenas, and other venues, throughout the world for cash prizes. The events are carried by ESPN.
** Permission is required to operate a drone on The Hun School’s campus. Drones weighing between 0.5 and 55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for outdoor flight.**
The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school. Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.