Droning on about world domination in new sport
FOR Tweed Heads man Ross Kerker, the latest phenomenon of drone racing isn't just a hobby, it's his whole world and a full-time job.
"I eat, breathe and sleep drone racing," Mr Kerker said, as he expertly navigates his custom-made drone up to 150kmh through Tweed skies.
Born and bred on the Tweed, the Bond University graduate is regarded as one of the best - if not the best - drone racer in the country.
The new sport has had Mr Kerker travel the world over the past six years, blazing a trail for his craft after his original plans of working in information technology (IT) took a permanent back seat.
"A guy brought a drone to my 3D helicopter club and it was instantly 'shut up and take my money'," Mr Kerker said.
Mr Kerker quickly made his mark, turning his talent into a full-time job as he trekked across the globe.
"I moved to Canada in 2014 and spent a year there travelling through the United States," Mr Kerker said.
"My first big competition was in Sacramento, California in 2015, there was a $25,000 prize pool and I finished 15th out of 125 pilots."
Mr Kerker is sponsored by Perth-based drone company Bolt RC and has spent around $100,000 in building his war chest of drones and equipment.
He's part of the invite-only American Racing League, an organisation with US$12 million in funding, flying his drone in such destinations as the Dolphins Stadium in Miami, Florida, abandoned power plants and an abandoned Los Angeles mall. He spends up to 30 hours a week training and easily doubles that time at the workbench each night, building or fixing drones and equipment in preparation for his next tilt at world domination.