For the second time in as many years, the Drones team at Bellbrook High School came away with a National Title.
This time it was the Hog Flyers who were crowned champions, extinguishing the hopes of eight other high school teams who went to compete in Denver, Colorado, the weekend of May 13-14.
And frankly, it wasn’t close. The Hog Flyers were dominant, sweeping the high school division in all the subcategories (Video presentation, Portfolio and Display, Design and Engineering (tied for first), Capture-the-flag and Head-to-head), as well as the overall award.
“There is a whole other side to this, other than flying a drone,” Seth Gedeon said. “There are so many different aspects.”
While flying is a major part, it’s just the end result of hours of work. The team doesn’t scroll through Amazon for the best drone. They build it themselves, then work together to continually modify it for the best results. Some of the team members are working on videos and trying to collaborate with sponsors to get the funding they need to purchase better parts, remake their drones and go on trips to tournaments.
“It’s like one-third racing, and two-thirds design process and marketing,” lead pilot and technician Garrett Becker said.
The real-world application of how the drone team needs to come together as a unit for success is what made being a part of the team exciting for Rylan Carper, the Project Manager. Making sure all the parts come together to make success attainable.
Zach Goodrich, the manufacturing engineer, spoke in high-level terms about how he was able to 3D print the drone, and even under the best of circumstances, it was still a difficult task. He also served as spotter during the races.
Of course, there were creative differences, too. Ben Roach mentioned the difference between design and functionality and doing what was best for the team.
It was a dream season from the start, following up on Monkey Brains’ National Title win in 2022.
Throughout the season, they competed in three simulator races, two virtual races, and three live races. Going into the national competition, the team ranked fifth in the Nation in simulator races, first in virtual races and fourth in live races.
When they got to Nationals, none of those previous rankings mattered, because the Hog Flyers were the best of the best.
“I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of both the Hog Flyers and the Speed Demonz (Bellbrook’s other drone team),” Drones coach Dave Lambright said. “At the beginning of the school year, both teams consisted of rookies with no experience in Drones in School competitions. The students did most of their work outside of school hours. Their relentless devotion and commitment took them from rookies to national champions in a matter of months.”
Mikuya Ford, who doesn’t take engineering classes like some of his teammates, said he joined the team because he enjoyed building things. His forte, though, was in the details. Making sure everything was properly documented.
John Lefeld, whose brother Isaac was on the national title team last year, said he was the swing-man for this year’s team. Having matched his brother’s feat of winning a national title, he was sure his family could make a little space on the mantle for another trophy.
And with the entire team being comprised of juniors, it’s safe to say they might all need to do some rearranging in the trophy case.
“They are already looking forward to next year,” Lambright said. “The Hog Flyers will all be seniors during the 2023-24 school year and are already making plans for their summer practices and possible changes in their drone design for the next season.”