If you are interested in drone racing, you will eventually need to find other people to fly with! It’s hard to push your flying skills further if you have nobody else to compete against. Even if you aren’t interested in racing, finding some like minded hobbyists in your area can add a great social aspect to flying. Additionally, it can make troubleshooting and sourcing parts for group projects significantly easier!
Here are some suggestions for finding a local community of FPV pilots or a racing group in your area.
Look for racing communities in your area using social media
If you are more of a casual racer or flier, your first step should be to check for local groups on Facebook or Meetup. On Facebook, look for groups in your area with the terms “FPV”, “drone racing”, and “quadcopter” with the name of your city. This may take some search-fu, but we have found many regions with local clubs that operate completely off Facebook groups or pages.
Our community spotlight on Bladed Fury’s limited class highlights this well. Their FB group has a ton of information on events, results, and definite camaraderie among everyone!
Similarly, Meetup can be a great resource for finding local racing groups. Select a comfortable travel radius in your area for FPV racing groups, and you might be surprised at what you find! Additionally, Meetup groups tend to have more casual events set up for building or even simple park meetups. If you are looking for something non-committal, this is a great place to start!
Meetup even has a topic setup for FPV racing. Why not start there?
Old school locations: hobby shops, RC parks, and local events
RC flying has been around for a long time. People have been flying scale planes, EDF jets, and a variety of other aircraft for decades before racing drones came on the scene. You might have a local RC field or hobby shop in your area that can help connect you with other pilots.
Again, Google will be your friend here. Search for local RC clubs, AMA chapters, and RC fields. Similarly, search for hobby shops that cater to RC pilots. These people are usually extremely passionate about flying and can help direct you to like minded people!
Local events and expos are also a great way to find other people interested in remote control… everything. We went to a local expo a few years back and were shocked at the variety of niches within the general RC community. This is definitely an awesome way to find local vendors, clubs, and communities that can lead to a new flying group!
One unfortunate thing to note though: some old school RC plane hobbyists HATE drone/quad pilots. This is obviously not across the board, but many fields that cater to plane pilots have outright bans on helis and quads. If the average age at your local field is pushing 60+, you probably won’t find many like minded drone racers. Don’t get discouraged though! It is still worth looking, as you may find people interested in drone racing and, better yet, maybe even a venue to fly at consistently!
Use Multi GP’s chapter map
If you want to get into competitive racing there are MultiGP chapters nearly everywhere! MultiGP is probably the largest drone race organization with chapters around the globe. These local chapters are run by dedicated pilots looking to bring others together to race.
The chapter map in particular is a great high level way to search for organized racing groups in your area.
Even if you don’t want to get serious into racing, the chapter map can be a great way to find casual local fliers as well. You don’t necessarily have to race, but you can go to the events and definitely meet some pilots! We’ve found many racing events to be a wide mix of hardcore racers alongside casual builders and fliers just wanting to be around people in the hobby!
Go where the pilots are
Pilots are a pretty diverse group, but many of us have shared interests in technology and building/fixing the things we use. If you seek out like-minded groups, you may make a connection that can lead you to a nearby organization. Technology and building things is a common thread for the “maker” movement, and many communities now have “maker spaces”—areas full of tools, equipment, and machinery for use by members. These groups may even host races or have their own course, like the one at Generator in Burlington, Vermont.
Additionally, if you are a student, clubs and other social groups at school or university are a great way to find potential pilots. Robotics, programming, and general tech clubs are a great way to find other interested hobbyists. Some of the biggest YouTube pilots started around / attended Georgia Tech and their community grew from there. If you find other tech minded people in your community, chances are at least a few of them are into (or could get into) racing drones.
Speaking of YouTube, another common interest among pilots? Sharing awesome flight footage. Spend some time searching YouTube for individual pilots who have a bunch of FPV videos. If you find someone flying in your area, reach out and try to get in touch. As an added benefit, subscribing might help you find new places to fly. Even if you’re looking for a race group, don’t look past someone sharing freestyle footage. An HD camera is often too much extra weight on a racing rig.
Can’t find one? Start your own!
If you live in a more rural area, you might find the options for organized groups lacking. Even if you live in a more populated area, maybe your lack of results is because nobody has started a group yet.
Why not be the person that starts the local group?
Use the same tools that you used for searching. Start a Facebook group, organize a Meetup, or stop by a local hobby store and drop off some contact info.
It probably doesn’t make sense to start a MultiGP chapter if you don’t have anyone interested yet, so stick with the other social channels if you are just starting out. However, if you have a semi local MultiGP chapter that is just out of your travel distance threshold, contact them! They might have members close to your area that may be interested in some casual flying between chapter events.
Similarly, it may be worthwhile to make the trek to a nearby event to see if there is anyone from your local area in attendance.
If you are interested in running your own race event, we put together a multi-part guide that covers everything you need to know about organizing a community race event. Similarly, if you are attending your first event, we covered everything you need to bring to your first drone race.