International Drone Competition and Conference 2016
Skies were exceptionally clear and blue that morning on the 2nd of December, 2016. Several people bundled up in winter coats and parkas were gathered at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Stadium, Pyeongchang County, Gangwon. Without a doubt, it was the perfect kind of day for—not ski jumping, no—drone racing.
It was here that the first International Drone Sports Conference and Competition was held, hosted by the Korea Drone Racing Association (KDRA) and co-hosted by JoongAng Ilbo and the Provincial Government of Gangwon. The monumental significance of the event would grow clearer in time, but from the get-go it was much more than just another drone racing competition. Beyond being a gathering of drone racing enthusiasts and pilots, it marked the birth of a commitment to turn an enjoyable leisure activity into a sport with international status and infinite potential.
The three-day-long event was headed by a conference, which took place on Friday at the Alpensia Resort Convention Center. With “Drones, the New Era of Sports” as the topic, attendees came from the drone sports and the industry area alike. Keynote speakers from a variety of areas, from organizers of drone sports events, leading figures in the drone industry, to pilots and drone experts, passionately shared their knowledge and experience in their fields. Choi Moon-soon, Governor of Gangwon, testified that drone racing was in deliberation to become a demonstration sport in the coming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The enthusiasm and excitement of all participants for the promise this new sport held was palpable.
The feeling carried right over to the next day as the competitions kicked off. With FPV Racing, Slalom Racing, and Drag Racing taking the spotlight as the main competitions, there were also a number of special events like FPV Freestyle and relay races, and exhibited matches like Drone Top Gun, Weightlifting, and Catch the Flag. 110 players and their drones from 12 countries around the globe heated up the chilly winter air with their fierce competition and passionate piloting.
But of all the moments that composed the 1st IDSC, perhaps most significant of all was the commitment to the future of drone sports made by all participant organizations and associations. 18 international organizations came to an agreement to cooperate for the sustainable growth of drone sports, particularly by supporting and participating in the establishment of an international drone sports organization. This was made official as seven drone associations signed an MOU to partner with the international drone sports organization when it came into being. The Province of Gangwon-Shenzhen UAV Association also signed an MoU to invigorate and support the drone industry.