Travis Miller, left, of North Cape and Gregg Novosad, of Palatine, Ill., discuss competitive maneuvers before their turn on the course (Jason Arndt/The Report).

By Jason Arndt
Editor

When Travis Miller explored YouTube four years ago, he came across footage of a drone race, and has been hooked on the hobby ever since.

Miller, of North Cape in Racine County, was among 24 competitors to converge onto Bucci Field at Wilmot Union High School for the second annual FPV Drone Race on Saturday, May 19.

“I got into it for racing, I saw a YouTube video almost four years ago and I had no idea, never heard it,” said Miller, whose hobby intensified.

“Racing is what I like to do.”

The event is hosted by the school’s Community Education Department and was presented by Muskego-based Team RamQuad

For Miller, who competed in last year’s event, the school’s facilities are unlike any other venue he has been to.

“It is really nice the way they set everything up here, with the access and the parking, it is nice not having to walk pretty far,” said Miller.

Andrew Sutliff, co-founder and pilot of Team RamQuad, concurred with Miller on the school’s facilities.

Those facilities, according to Sutliff, are rare in drone racing.

“It is a great location, the football field is fantastic, the turf is just a great backdrop,” he said. “It gives pilots a venue they normally wouldn’t use to fly.”

In other races, Sutliff and his fellow hobbyists often use open farm fields.

Although a farm field has similar space, the Bucci Field site at Wilmot offers comfortable seating, and more amenities.

“The space and where spectators can be is huge,” he said. “These are all things that we don’t normally get to offer pilots.”

The venue, he said, was made possible through the help of Wilmot Community Education Coordinator Paige Thelen.

Like last year, Thelen and her staff worked with Team RamQuad to accommodate the event.

“She has been fantastic, her and her staff have given us everything we need to put on a top tier event,” Sutliff said.

This year’s race race brought in double the participation as 2017, which was attributed to better timing and weather.

Last year, when the event was held in February, about a dozen pilots participated.

“Our availability to get people here was tougher. This year, we have double the pilots,” Sutliff said.

Longtime competitor Gregg Novosad, who came from Palatine, Ill., made his first appearance at Wilmot on Saturday.

While the race at Wilmot was new for Novosad, the area was not, considering he grew up skiing at Wilmot Mountain.

“I used to ski race at Wilmot Mountain. This is about 45 minutes (away). This is actually the closest race to the northwest suburbs of Illinois,” he said.

In his first drone race at Wilmot Novosad found the course had unique features.

“There is a lot of verticality, with drones, we always want high altitude,” he said. “We are playing off the goal posts and actually getting into the air.”

While the second annual event drew to a close, Sutliff said he hopes it is the beginning of a successful relationship.

“We hope to be back every year and we hope to see the hobby grow,” he said.

 
 

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