No one wants to buy a $500 hobby drone only to discover they’re a bad pilot, especially considering how one bad twist or crash can leave your investment in pieces. Practice on a simulator before you buy one, just to be safe (and show off in front of friends).
Low Barrier to Entry
The best part about learning to fly on a drone simulator is the low barrier to entry. And by low, I mean free. The Drone Racing League offers its PC and Mac-compatible simulator gratis, so you can simply download, install, and start flying.
No Drone or Controller Required
Pro drone pilots use specific RC controllers worth hundreds of dollars with a variety of settings specific to quadcopter control. If you, like me, don’t have a few hundred bucks to spend on a specialized controller to practice, you can always use the ones you have.
Faster Resetting Means Faster Learning
Crashing an actual drone instantly grinds your high-flying party to a halt. Now you’ve got to get up, find the crash site, and make sure your quadcopter is still functional before hitting the gas and going for another run. If you’re crashing in a drone simulator, pressing a single button instantly resets your position and gets you ready to fly again. It’s perfect for nailing down basics like flying between some trees or a box without having to sit in the heat or walk through a park to retrieve your precious equipment.
Compete Against Actual Pilots
The Drone Racing League simulator offers an online multiplayer mode, letting you compete with other pilots. If you’re interested in the competitive aspect, online play will put you against other pilots, some of whom are actual professionals. There’s no need to travel to an event when you can race in your own.
Practice Makes Perfect
After spending a few days practicing, I can safely say that drone racing is an incredibly difficult skill to master. It’s a very smart way to test your skill as a drone pilot, or practice before you bite the bullet and get a drone of your own. My fascination with drone racing was grounded in reality after a few days of playing. In short, I suck, though I can thank the simulator for saving me a few hundred bucks on some starter quadcopter. With the 2017 Drone Racing League season debuting on ESPN2 this year, and the finals taking place on July 8, I think I’ll watch the pros play instead.