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Written by Matt Ruddick
As seen in the June 2018 issue of
Model Aviation.

Nearly all facets of aeromodeling have a major event at some point in the year that participants look forward to with great excitement. Traditions have been forged around these gatherings of like-minded hobbyists and competitors that display some of the greatest traits of our hobby.

The International Radio Controlled Helicopter Association (IRCHA) Jamboree is held at the beginning of August in Muncie, Indiana, and is a must-see destination for helicopter pilots. Joe Nall Week at the Triple Tree Aerodrome in Woodruff, South Carolina, attracts hundreds of pilots from all disciplines each May.

On the freestyle course, unorthodox obstacles were used to create unique lines of tricks.

Last August, more than 300 drone pilots and other members of the drone community began their own tradition at an event known as the RIOT MultiGP International Open, held at the International Aeromodeling Center (IAC) in Muncie. As we approach the 2018 event, I want to share some of the things that made the inaugural event so successful.

With eight courses and 1,100 acres of flying site land, the International Open is currently the largest gathering of drone racing pilots in the world. Pilots of all skill levels from throughout the US and multiple countries were there to compete, teach, learn, and have fun during the five-day event, and those are the things that made it so memorable. Pilots were able to fly with those whom they’ve seen on TV, YouTube, and Facebook. Questions were encouraged, and answers were widely available.

Two-time DRL champion Jordan Tempkin prepares for a race.

The aforementioned eight courses gave a “something for everyone” feel to the event. A rookie course was present for those who were new to racing. It lacked the 3D elements of some of the larger courses and replaced them with longer straights and sweeping turns that a new pilot could effectively navigate.

A trophy was even offered to the winner of the rookie class race, who ended up being someone who isn’t exactly new to racing but was competing in his first drone racing event—IndyCar Series driver Gabby “Cannonball” Chavez.

Well-known pilots, including Tommy Tibajia (L) who is shown here, were on hand to offer tips and guidance to attendees.

A course specifically designed for spec racing was built to test pilot ability instead of the quality of the aircraft. Each pilot’s aircraft had to meet a specifically mandated set of criteria and use a predetermined set of components. Australian flier Thomas Bitmatta beat out a stacked field of top competitors to take the highest prize on the spec course.

The World Cup course was most definitely the pièce de résistance. Double gates, gravity gates, hurdles, and flags were lined up in this race to test the top pilots from around the world. Featuring a number of Drone Racing League (DRL) pilots, former MultiGP champions, and young newcomers, the World Cup was a nail-biter all the way down to the finals that finished shortly after 1 a.m., when Thomas was able to come away with the title of MultiGP International Open World Cup Champion. It might have been a late night for these racers, but it didn’t lack excitement.

Thomas Bitmatta (L) runs the World Cup course during a qualifying round. He moved on to win the World Cup Championship.

Of course, it wasn’t all about the racers at the International Open. Sponsored by Rotor Riot, the freestyle course gave pilots a place to show off their creative spirits. Using 3D structures, towers, and even farm equipment, pilots demonstrated their skills by flipping around, over, and sometimes under different obstacles in an attempt to impress the onlookers and to get the best onboard video to later share.

The rookie course kept it simple with long straights and sweeping turns that novice pilots could master.

Members of the Rotor Riot team even held games of KWAD, where players had to match tricks in the same way basketball players match shots in games of HORSE.

There was so much more at this event than I could possibly discuss. If you’d like to read more about the MultiGP International Open, go back and check out the December 2017 issue of Model Aviation to read our full coverage. There truly was something for everyone at this event. If you missed it, I have some good news for you. The dates for the 2018 MultiGP International Open have been set for August 8-12 at the IAC in Muncie. Tickets are available at the link listed in “Sources.”

Nighttime events included a micro course for aircraft such as Tiny Whoops.

If year one was any indication, you will want to be a part of this tradition.

-Matt Ruddick


(321) 549-3002

MultiGP International Open

Rotor Riot


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