BLACKSBURG – Nestor Folta’s drone sounded like a mosquito as it buzzed around an empty field on a recent afternoon, flying around 60 mph through a homemade obstacle course of PVC pipes.
The practice course was designed to be identical to what Folta, 21, and two other Virginia Tech students will face at the first ever Collegiate Drone Racing National Championship in Indiana on Saturday.
Folta, Christian AndersonSchoepe and Michael Wang call their team Mad Props. They’ve all been flying drones recreationally for years, but they took up the entirely new hobby of drone racing just months ago. Now, they’re getting ready to compete for the first time.
So far, Folta estimates he’s spent about $3,000 on the hobby. There will be about $10,000 worth of drone gear, from motors to video goggles, up for grabs this weekend.
“I’ve always loved things that fly,” Folta said. “So being able to put on goggles and do exactly what I could do in a plane is pretty cool.”