Updated: May 20
Photo Credit: FAI / Marcus King
The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, also known as the World Air Sports Federation, is a century-old organization dedicated to air sports. Beginning in 1905, FAI is a non-governmental and non-profit organization that aims to proliferate aeronautical and astronautical activities on a global scale. Currently, the federation consists of more than 100 member countries and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee. With the advent of drone racing circuits and international FPV competitions, FAI has added several drone-related events to their roster including the FAI International Drones Conference and Expo, the FAI Drone Racing World Cup, and the FAI World Drone Racing Championships.
The 2018 FAI Drone Racing World Cup had the distinction of being the biggest one yet. The World Cup began in April and concluded in October with 22 events total and 669 pilots from 41 countries participating this year. That's over 200 more pilots and 4 more countries than last year. The 2018 FAI World Drone Racing Championships was FAI's first ever drone racing championship competition. In November, pilots of all different ages from around the world competed against each other in Shenzhen, China.
Wonderfully, the championship was a great place for FAI to show off their Women with Wings project, an initiative designed to encourage the involvement of women in air sports. On their website, they state, "Conscious that women are under-represented in air sports, the FAI developed the Women With Wings series to promote women who fly." Women with Wings aim to promote female pilots and encourage women to fly. 13 women participated in this year's competition, a number that will surely increase as more women continue to become involved in drone racing circuits.
Participating female pilots came from all over the world and varied in age. FAI chose to recognize a few of them on their website. Gayeon Mo is competing as part of a team from Korea. She is currently 19 years old and started drone racing 2 years ago. Nataliya Astakhova is a Russian pilot. She has been competing for a year and a half and is the only female pilot in the Russian circuit she competes in. Wanraya Wannapong is a member of a team from Thailand and the youngest pilot in the competition. At 11 years old, second highest placed female pilot after three qualifying rounds. Jessika Farrar is 31 years old and is on the USA team. She has been racing for two years and aeromodelling for 20 years. You can read about more pilots on the Women with Wings page of the FAI website.
I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron