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New drone park in Florida gives pilots safe space to sharpen skills

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Posted at 8:45 AM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 11:45:19-04

SEFFNER, Fla. — Putting on special goggles, you can see what it looks like flying a drone through the obstacles at Mango Park.

Some of the racing drones that can be flown can reach more than 100 miles an hour.

“If you hit this one. Your drone is definitely broken. You’ve got to fix again,” said Tilly Koester.

The Cigar City Multirotors club members said they are happy to finally have a place to fly and race where they won’t be chased away.

“We’ve been flying around in different spots sometimes getting the stink eye and stuff because of being there when we shouldn’t be there. Or people feeling we shouldn’t be there,” said Eric Dederichs.

“The best part is having a dedicated space where we are not just tolerated, but we are encouraged to come out and show off our drones show off what we do,” said Koester.

There are more than 896,000 drones registered in the U.S. by the FAA. And thousands more that aren’t registered.

It’s not always easy to find a place to fly, which is why at Mango Park in Seffner Hillsborough County, officials created the first dedicated drone park in Tampa Bay. And one of just three in Florida.

“We feel safe that we can fly here. It’s intended for us to be here,” said Dederichs.

“Seeing the drone flyers is absolutely amazing. The skill and the technique. The ability to make something move so fast and so effortlessly. And I haven’t seen anyone crash yet,” said Jason Mackenzie, Hillsborough County Park Planner, and Development Manager.

Members of the club said it’s an excellent hobby for those who like to tinker with mechanical things.

They also said they like meeting others who love to fly and teaching those who want to learn. They describe it as a real-life video game.

“The adrenaline that’s what gets me the most right there. Just taking the helmet, and my hands are shaking from it still,” said Dederichs.

Erik Waxler at WFTS first reported this story.