A career in the emerging sport of first-person view (FPV) drone racing may be on the cards for Thomas Bitmatta, an 18-year-old from Melbourne.
Last year Bitmatta won the MultiGP International Open in the US, defeating more than 300 top drone pilots from around the globe.
What is it like to be a drone racer?
FPV drone racing is a dazzling display of speed and instinct. Pilots battle against each other precisely navigating their crafts through complex obstacle courses using headsets and hand controllers at speeds of up to 170kmph.
Thomas began flying drones more than six years ago after being encouraged to give it a go by his father Paul, a former Boeing engineer. Thomas’ father now travels with his son to races around the world offering support.
Speaking to The West Australian – the teen said that while he loved the technology behind the drones, he was most passionate about the art of flying.
“For me, it’s like a zen where you’re really focussed, really dedicated, there’s a line in front of you to track and you’re just trying to refine yourself, refine your line work and produce the fastest time and the cleanest lap,” he said.
Bitmatta has won multiple races in a row, having recently came out on top at drone competitions in Brisbane and Adelaide last year. While he was recently accepted to study mechatronics at university, he plans to delay his studies for 2018 to travel the world racing drones.
The first stop on Bitmatta’s racing schedule is this month in Florida, the first US competition of the season.
Paul Bitmatta told ABC news Thomas may earn enough to live on through racing through sponsorship, prize money and work with a drone television production company in the US.