What happens when a friend introduces a firefighter who is into drag racing to the YouTube drone racing scene?
You get Shaun Taylor, a full-time drone racer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, who has blazed a winning trail around the world. I was able to spend some time with Shaun and got a chance to learn more about his passion for drone racing.—Dan Goldstein
Dan Goldstein: How did you get involved in the RC hobby?
Shaun Taylor: I was introduced to the world of drone racing in the summer of 2015. My buddy Sean Stanford told me about quadcopters and showed me a few videos on YouTube. When I saw a video of quadcopters flying through the forest, I just lost my mind. I did not know exactly what it was all about, but I knew I needed it in my life.
Drone Worlds 2016. Drone racing competition, 2016. Held on Koaloa ranch, O’hau island, Hawaii. Pictured: Shaun Taylor
Who are your sponsors?
My primary sponsor is EMAX. I also am sponsored by DR1 Racing, AirVuz, Foxeer, Pulse batteries, and FuriousFPV. I have just signed as the first pilot to bust out of the hobby-only scene with DHL.
Do you race in any particular circuits or leagues, and in what races have you placed?
I race professionally for DR1, and I have won numerous races around the world. I came out on top Down Under, with first place at Australian Drone Nationals in April 2016; was extra lucky in Vegas for two years, landing first place at both XDC TWO in January 2016 and XDC ONE in 2015; first place at Spaceport America Drone Summit in 2016 in New Mexico; first place at MultiGP Regional Final in Bakersfield, California, in 2016; first place at Drone Nationals Team Race at Governors Island, New York, in 2016; second place at the DR1 Invitational in Los Angeles in 2016; first place at the IDRA Western Qualifier in 2016; first place at the 2016 Drone Worlds in Hawaii; first place at the 2016 MultiGP Championship in Muncie, Indiana; and first place at the 2015 MultiGP Championship.
What aspects of FPV do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging aspect of drone racing is staying competitive and beating myself every day.
Do you have a particular size of FPV model that you prefer, and if so, why?
I fly 200-ish-size class with 5-inch props. I fly this size because it is the perfect balance of speed and agility within the current regulations of our race league.
What are your aspirations in the sport?
I hope to see the sport grow [to be] self-sustaining and watched around the globe.
How do you practice, and what do you do to prep for a race?
I fly every day and practice on very specific goals I set for myself and try to reach every day. [Before a race,] I keep my mind clear, live in the now, and not worry about the future—[try to] stay focused and remain calm.
What do you believe should be done to reduce the stigma of drones to the
It will simply take time. It’s new, and that scares people.
Given your pro status in the drone world, how do you respond to people who are down on drones?
I always offer help and advice to those seeking it.
What safety measures do you follow when flying?
Always have a line-of-sight spotter. Never fly over or around people. Fly in places legally allowing drones.
What advice would you give a newbie?
Sims are your friend!
Which superhero would you want to be, and why?
Darth Vader. LOL. Not a superhero but the greatest.