Twelve-year-old Woman Captures Second Drone Racing Title
When we think back to our 12-year-old selves, most of us were focused on impressing the opposite sex and ABC’s TGIF line up.
For Wanraya “Milk” Wannapong of Thailand, winning the women’s division of the 2019 World Drone Racing Championship Grand Final in China proved to be a bit more satisfying.
Milk successfully defended her second title last week, besting Siyun Park, 15, of South Korea and 34-year-old American Teng Ma.
“Milk stunned the world last year when – at age 11 – she became the youngest drone racing champion in the contest in Shenzhen,” according to the Bangkok Post.
The Finals brought drew more than 100 drone racers to in Xiangshan Ningbo, China with the lure of aerial bragging rights and a total purse of $125,000. The race is sanctioned by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (World Air Sports Federation).
South Korean pilot Changhyeon Kang, 16, won the overall championship, snagged the junior division and led his national squad to victory in the team division. Australia’s Thomas Bitmatta, 20, landed second place and Killian Rousseau, 15, won third.
Australia finished second in the team division followed by host nation China.
FAI Acting Secretary General Markus Haggeney congratulated the winner’s circle. “Particularly the Korean team on claiming gold medals in a total of three categories, and the impressive young Thai pilot Wanraya Wannapong, who is now an FAI World Champion for the second time at just 12 years old,” Haggeney added.
Among the 112 participating pilots, 103 drone pilots, including 40 juniors and nine women, competed as part of 31 national teams. Nine pilots competed as individuals.
At just more than 2,000 feet long, the 13-foot wide track is divided into three layers with 14 unique obstacles and 25 flags, including bridges and tunnels.
Dubbed Bi-Fish, the track is inspired by the traditional Chinese Tai Chi symbol. Officials say it embodies the maritime culture of Xiangshan Ningbo – a former fishing village.