News Local

BCIT hosting drone fair in Burnaby

By Eric MacKenzie

Postmedia Network file photo.

Postmedia Network file photo.

Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of drones or an experienced pilot of unmanned aerial vehicles, BCIT is the place to be this weekend.

The school’s Burnaby campus will be Saturday’s venue for Drone Fair 2016, which organizers are calling “the first event of its kind in Western Canada.”

First-time flyers can learn how to operate a drone from a professional in one of three fly zones, while drone racing, guest speakers and vendors will all be on site.

“It’s the dawn of the drone age, really,” event organizer Steve Watts said of the explosion of interest in drone technology. “It’s becoming so accessible that really anyone can do it. It’s all about education.”

The fair highlights positive applications of UAVs, and attendees can hear from experts in the film industry and in wildlife study, and how drones have changed their work. The other major focus is safety.

“The only way this industry will grow and reach its maximum potential ... is if everyone plays by the rules,” he said.

The Grand Prix features different race events in partnership with local group Never Hover FPV Racing.

“(Racing) is growing in popularity. When we were talking about (this) event four or five months ago, you would Google ‘drone racing in Vancouver’ and nothing would come up,” said Watts. “But there are leagues here now.”

Watts said the competing drones can reach speeds of up to 70 km/h while navigating courses with obstacles and gates, controlled by pilots in first-person view from the aircraft’s onboard camera. Spectators will be able to watch the competitors’ points of view on a big screen.

Check out for advance tickets, as tickets at the door will be limited. The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.