What exactly does the association do?
We are rapidly nearing the end of the racing season, with British Championships just around the corner and some of our country’s top pilots preparing to show off their skills to their international counterparts at Euros and Worlds, so we thought it would be a good idea to update everybody on what we do and where your membership fees go.
Everything we do contributes towards the objectives that are enshrined in our constitution, and we strive to uphold the principles as written in our mission statement, but we are often asked for a more in-depth description of what we do, so here goes:
Press and public
We work with industry magazines and publications (such as #ukdroneshow magazine, DRONE magazine, and RC Flight Camera Action) to publicise our sport and showcase the good, clean, and socially acceptable side of drones.
We have run stands (often in collaboration with the BMFA) at shows and public events such as Farnborough International Airshow, UK Drone Show (and soon at Malvern Festival of Innovation) to demonstrate our sport and introduce it to the general public.
We have been invited to speak at events such as the Commercial UAV show, UK Drone Show and even Bestival to talk about our emerging sport, and we have engaged publications from outside of the industry to further publicise how drones aren’t all used for invading privacy and commercial airspace.
Representing the community
At the start of this season, we invited all FPV racers to get involved in the consultation process that ultimately produced our first set of rules. We took examples of race rules from various FPV organisations around the world, as well as other model racing disciplines and adapted them based on feedback from the community to create a unique set that would be easy for clubs to adopt and that would encourage more racers to participate in a competitive, structured racing format. The success of our domestic talent in international competitions this year has been a testament to the benefits of listening to the pilot community and we intend to continuously evolve these rules to accommodate advancements in technology and flying capability.
The association also liaises with official regulatory bodies that govern our sport, including BMFA, FAI, CAA and OFCOM. We have a number of ongoing initiatives with both CAA and OFCOM to protect and develop the sport, and we maintain a good working relationship with both the BMFA and FAI.
The Queen’s Cup was awarded by the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom to FPV racing for the first time in the trophy’s 400 year history, and the association mobilised with support from BMFA and local clubs to organise a once in a lifetime competition that befitted the accolade. The event was widely publicised and showed our sport in a fantastic light.
Growing the sport
One of our founding principles is to help new clubs form by sharing our collective experience and provide support when requested. Our affiliate programme, which is free to join, currently stands at 18 clubs and organisations across the UK and we are steadily increasing our stock of equipment that is available for affiliates to borrow/rent until they can afford to fund their own. Running the association is a voluntary overhead that the committee is happy to bear in order to provide the best possible representation to our members, but membership fees are needed to fund the purchase and maintenance of equipment that ultimately benefits each member through the clubs to which they belong.
A well-known friend of ours from the FPV industry in the US said recently that our pilots in the UK have a major advantage over those stateside, which is that we all live so close enough together in our little country (by US standards!) that we get to race against each other regularly, and our way of running races gives us the environment in which to continuously challenge each other and push the boundaries of what is possible.
Through our affiliate programme we hope we can continue to encourage groups of racers to setup their own clubs, and to support their growth in the hope that they will someday find the next Luke Bannister or Gary Kent.
British Championship Series
One of the ways we help our affiliated clubs and organisations to transition from club to national level racing is through the series of Qualifying Events, which attract our best pilots from all over the country to compete in tournaments whose results are recorded in the National Rankings, which in turn is used to qualify for the British National Championship.
Running a Qualifying Event takes time, effort and equipment, and clubs who are ready to make the jump to the next level can request support and advice from the association. It is by no means a requirement for every club to run one but the reward for holding a QE is manifold; not only does the club gain from the experience of running an event to National standards, but also the increased attendance and higher-level talent that such an event attracts. Qualifying Events this year include:
- FPVLeague Urban Challenge
- Delta Hawks – July 3 event
- Queen’s Cup
- Scottish Nationals
Running the British Championship event
Anybody who has run an event will have realised that it’s a lot harder than it looks, and the end-of-season championship event is no exception. With venues, sponsors, equipment and staff to arrange it is a full time job for some event organisers, but merely something that the committee takes on whilst holding down their day jobs. The British Championship event is the one event every year that the association runs on behalf of its members, for its members, and is the culmination of all that dedication and hard work throughout the year that finally sees all the contenders for the title converge in one place and battle it out to see who will be crowned the British Champion.
Last but not least, your snazzy ID card with holder and lanyard costs money. It’s not a lot, but we hope to use this in future to synchronise your race information with event organisers so that registration, check-in and race configuration becomes a much smoother and joined-up process.
The committee thanks all of our members for your continued support – all 200+ of you! We couldn’t have done all this without you, and we always welcome your suggestions and opinions. Please get involved via our forum or on our Facebook page, and we hope to see you at an event in the future!