National Championship Air Races to be site of unmanned aerial challenge

National Championship Air Races to be site of unmanned aerial challenge

Reno, Nev. – With help from partner Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide, the National Championship Air Races will be home to the first-ever Small UAS Challenge during this September’s 51st event. The challenge, which is free to enter and takes place Sept. 12 – 14, will test a number of skills and demonstrate a variety of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS). The Small UAS Challenge is just the latest in a number of new and returning entertainment that is planned for this year’s Reno Air Races, which take place Sept. 10 – 14, joining previously announced acts like Melissa Pemberton, one of the world’s top female aerobatic pilots, the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, the L-39 Patriot Jet Team, the return of the ‘Car Drop,’ and more.

“To have a worldwide leader in aeronautics like Embry-Riddle hold such a unique and fun event like the Small UAS Challenge at the Air Races is a thrill for us and is something that our fans won’t be able to see anywhere else in the world,” said Mike Major, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA). “Unmanned aircraft have received a lot of attention in the news, especially in Nevada, and this is a one-of-a-kind chance for people to get up close and personal with this technology in a fun and challenging environment.”

As one of the world’s foremost institutes for aviation and aeronautical education, Embry-Riddle – Worldwide created the Small UAS Challenge as a way to “promote and recognize the emerging UAS industry.” The competition, which is free and open to private and commercial participants, will feature an obstacle course, time trial and a dead lift, testing speed, agility and strength. Eligible aircraft must be able to perform a vertical takeoff and landing and can be no larger than 36 inches and 10 pounds. The number of participants is limited, and early registration is encouraged. All participants will receive free admission to the National Championship Air Races.

“We look forward to presenting this challenge during the National Championship Air Races,” said David Thirtyacre, assistant professor of aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Worldwide. “As a leader in aviation and aeronautical education, Embry-Riddle Worldwide recognizes the importance of the UAS industry in both the state of Nevada and throughout the country.”

To register for the Small UAS Challenge:

sUAS Competition Registration

sUAS Challenge Rules

sUAS Competition Fact Sheet


  1. Where do we submit the Drone Zone Registration?

    • I got my answer from David Thirtyacre so please delete my previous comment.

  2. I am flying a DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter. Have been for some time. Have flown RC aircraft for years.
    Would be interested in flying at the Air Races.
    Need to know how to arrange it.

    David M. Richards

  3. Will FPV flight be allowed?

  4. Same question as brad,will fpv be allowed? We need a bit more info.

    • I’m sure FPV will be allowed as long as you are operating within FCC guidelines for radio transmissions. The flying course is surrounded by fish net.

      Also for anyone looking for the the course it is East of the tower by Gate 9.

      • hey rob!

        Thanks a lot for you answer.

        Is this the size of the whole place to compete? 40x65x30′ high ?

        If thats the case it sounds like there is no space to gain speed at all.


        • Those dimensions are roughly the size of the area to fly in. I would say this will be more of an agility in close quarter combat space than an all out speed race. They are restricted because of the full size aircraft racing overhead. Maybe someday small UAV’s will get to race the full size course in their own heat.

  5. I was at your event today to practice. I was the one that gave you the video of flying the course. My question is. How can I get back into your event ? I didn’t get any kind of a writs band or anything. Who or how can I get back into the air show do I need to buy a ticket ? Thanks


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