Above: Race wings proved to be popular with the spectators on Governors Island, owing both to their distinctive sound and the fact that they are
much larger than racing quads, making them easier to see and identify as they maneuver through the course.
Competitive RC flying came to Governors Island in New York Harbor this past summer—a mere 800 yards off of the tip of Manhattan—at the US National Drone
Racing Championship. This is an amateur competition with a
$50,000 purse, sanctioned by the AMA.
AMA has provided support to flying competitions for
decades, but several factors combined to make this event
unique. First was the venue. Pilots steered their machines
through gates and obstacles against a one-of-a-kind backdrop—
the elegant facets of Freedom Tower rising high above New
York’s Financial District, and the Statue of Liberty.
Second was the attention that the event received. There
were live broadcasts on ESPN3, plus write-ups in national
media outlets, including Time, Fortune, and Forbes. Smaller
publications across the country provided additional coverage,
as did some of the hometown newspapers of the 150 pilots
who qualified to compete.
In the middle of it all stood one man, Andy Argenio, AMA
District I vice president and chairman of the organization’s
Advanced Flight Systems Committee, who served as the
contest director (CD). Assisted by Stephen Brehm, Andy was
responsible for ensuring safety at the event—a substantial
challenge at a competition that drew more than 10,000
spectators during three days of racing, in some of the most
47 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2016 www.ModelAviation.com
HOSTING AN AMA-SANCTIONED EVENT
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS
BY PATRICK SHERMAN
PHOTOS BY THE AUTHOR