Drone Races: Drone Park First in Citrus County Florida
While regulations are constantly changing around when and where drone use is permitted, some cities are exploring the idea of creating safe spaces for hobbyists to fly. Putting this idea into action, Citrus County has opened the first designated drone park in Florida. Noting a growing interest, County Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith decided to create the drone park. “What prompted this was my philosophy to produce a change in the minds of the community on what locals are really doing to have fun,” Smith said in Citrus County Chronicle. “I ran a campaign a few years ago for the private sector to use drones, so drones have been on my agenda for a long time.”
Though he is an avid drone flyer himself, Smith initially got the idea from a high school student. She urged Smith to get a club up and running in her school. “We want drone safety to be critical, so we decided to help Lecanto High School get funds through the Citrus County Education Foundation to start a drone club — then we wanted to give them a place to fly,” Smith said.
Smith noted that there is a larger audience than just for recreational use, including the workforce, stating “drone use is multifaceted”. Members of the Citrus Drone Racing Club, including over 50 people, are often racing at the park on the weekends. Lecanto High School Drone Club members spend their time learning the art of flying quads about once a week.
While not all cities are as eager to implement drone parks as Citrus County, this is a clear illustration of the growing impact this technology is having on communities. With increased use in both the recreational and commercial sectors, having a safe area for pilots to practice and learn could prove a great way to increase safety and awareness, and well as build a community around this growing tech. As the industry continues to expand, it will be interesting to see if other cities follow suit, and what other solutions are implemented to give people a safe and available location to fly.