drone pilot industryMultiGP launches organization to draw more women to drone racing

August 13, 2021by helo-10

Out of the 300 competitive drone pilots participating in the MultiGP Championship, only three women were competing on the pro level.

MUNCIE, Ind. — The MultiGP Championship is the first major drone event to take place since the pandemic began in 2020. Organizers said drone pilots from around the world come to Muncie for this annual event.  

Out of the 300 competitive drone pilots participating, only three women were competing on the pro level, said the co-founders of Women MultiGP Drone Racing.  

Kelara Ehfad and Diane Booher said they started the organization to draw more women to the sport. Their launch is this week at the drone racing championship in Muncie. 

“What Kelara and I are trying to accomplish is to create an environment where women feel comfortable and invited,” said Booher. “We want women to have a space where they can mentor other women and just expose other women to the drone industry.”

Susan Smith has been a drone pilot for three years.  

“It’s like a real life video game,” said Smith as she explained how the sport worked. 

The radio, a remote control similar to those used for small cars or boats, “controls the inputs to the drone it’s linked with a video transmitter,” said Smith. Another radio controls the spin of the motors. 

“There’s a camera on the drone that broadcasts video to your goggles, so you’re watching through the goggles,” she said. 

The pilots build their own drone. 

“It’s like NASCAR,” said Ehfad. 

And like any sport, drone racing takes practice. 

“It probably took me a good six months to a year,” said Smith. “In my first race, I came in dead last (in every track).”

But “in 2018, I came to this event and I got second place on the rookie track and now I’m on the pro track, so we’ll see how it goes,” she said. 

“Drone racing is a sport rooted in STEM. It’s a highly educational activity that I recommend for anyone,” said Smith.  

Matt Boerlage came to Muncie from Houston, Texas for the MultiGP. He’s been a drone pilot for two years and his wife helps him build the drones. He said this is a sport for everyone.  

“You can compete with a 12-year-old, a 7-year-old or an 80-year-old,” said Boerlage. 

The sport is expensive, though. Organizers say there are some smaller starter drones that are around $100 or so, but the more competitive level ones a around $1,000. But when a drone crashes, a pilot has to buy parts to repair it. That’s why many pilots emphasize the importance of simulators.  

Women MultiGP Drone Racing has a tent near the world track where they help train and coach people to fly drones. Their long-term goal is to launch a parallel women’s league, side-by-side with the men’s as there are in other sports. 

Boerlage said he disagrees with the plan. 

“Everybody should just go together and fly, no matter what your background is or who has what. Just get together and race. It’s the most unifying thing there is, so let’s just get together and fly,” he said.  

Although only three women were competing on the pro level, MultiGP said that there were about 30 participants this year, which is twice as many as the last tournament. Their goal is to keep the momentum going.  

Ehfad said the organization is encouraging women to launch their own local chapters.  

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