By Chris Morley
Drone racing clubs are the lifeblood of the hobby. They bring pilots together and they sharpen their skills and play host to the phenomenon that is drone racing. This is the first in a series of interviews by BFPVRA with the people behind the clubs and our hobby. What better place to start than the Delta Hawks club and Mr Richard Bloxam.
BFPVRA: “Delta Hawks has a great reputation. Apart from the name, what makes it so good?”
Richard Bloxam “Haha, I didn’t realise it was so good! Well when the club started back in 2014 our main objective was to max air time for pilots and that has remained a priority. People want to fly, not watch tracks being repaired. First time pilots fly with us they quickly run out of batteries and the next time they come prepared! But any club is only as good as its members and their ability to get involved. We are lucky to have people like Elliot Naseby and Jon Timms helping to organise the club. On race days everyone gets involved and I’m so grateful for that.”
BFPVRA “What else makes for a good club?”
Richard Bloxam: After the members and the stick time, the flying site is key. We are fortunate at Delta Hawks to have access to four good flying sites. We have eight pilots in the air at once and if we need to we can run more pilots on adjacent sites.
BFPVRA: “You have seen a lot of international drone racing. How do the GB pilots compare?
Richard Bloxam: “Our pilots are world class. GB was early to adopt drone racing and our density of population has also helped us to train and compete. Gary Kent won his first event at our first Delta Hawks race back in 2015. Since then Gary has gone on to great things of course and many others have gone on to have success at national and international level.
GB talent certainly shone through when our first BFPVRA international team (Alfie, Chris and Harry) competed at IDSC in Korea this year. They were competing against some teams that had far more experience at international level, but despite this they did great. Proof, if needed, of the talent in the UK.
Photo above Left to right : Harry Plested, Alfie Mitchel, Chris Knight and Richard Bloxam
BFPVRA: “Any observations about the UK club scene in general?”
Richard Bloxam: “We are seeing quite a few clubs springing up now, but I would like to see many more. Some of our Delta Hawks members travel hours to reach us. I’d like to see a club within thirty minutes of everyone!
BFPVRA: Where do you see the hobby heading and is it a hobby or a sport?
Richard Bloxam: “I would say that it’s a hobby that is growing into a sport. There is the present grass roots racing scene, where most of the spectators are family and friends. That’s the hobby side and it will always have a valued place. But to turn it into a serious sport requires support from commercial organisations that can fund and grow it. We only become attractive to sponsors once we have the audience experience right. Presently, whilst the pilot experience is really exciting, drone racing can be confusing and uninspiring for the spectator. We need to do more to help spectators to follow the action, their favourite pilot or team. We have lots of ideas in the pipeline to assist with this…
BFPVRA: “What else will take things forward?”
Richard Bloxam: “On line streaming is very important. So if you look at the gaming world, there are millions of viewers watching certain games. Well we can replicate that in drone racing. We have started to Livestream all of our events and hope that this will bring further sponsorship and people wanting to try drone racing.”
BFPVRA: “Yes it’s a real plus that a lot of people in the scene are great with tech. What do you see as some of the challenges for the hobby?”
Richard Bloxam: “Drone racing must remain inclusive and it must be welcoming regardless of age, background or gender. As more people arrive, that’s something we must continue to work hard on.”
BFPVRA: “That sounds good, but how do we achieve it?”
Richard Bloxam: “Well at Delta Hawks we have noticed that our practice events are no longer attracting newcomers. We think they feel intimidated by the gap between their ability and that of our regular members. To combat this we are going to commit to having a separate track or practice area dedicated to beginners and less experienced pilots. We will also be offering technical workshops and where possible we will run events with a “club” and “pro” category element.”
BFPVRA: “That’s a perfect example. Thank you very much for your time Richard. It was very insightful.”
Richard Bloxam: “You are very welcome.”
If you would like BFPVRA to promote your club and activities then please get in touch via email Chris.Morley@bfpvra.org or contact me on facebook