State's first park for drones has Citrus County buzzing

- Drone racing is one of the country's hottest new sports. But here in the Bay Area, there were few places for aspiring pilots to fly -- until now. Citrus County Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith is thinking big. 

"People are buying more and more drones, and the conversation was 'Well, where do you fly it?' Well there was no designated area." said.

So Smith and his elected colleagues created the first and only park dedicated to recreational drone use in the state. And in the beginning, some of his fellow commissioners were a little leery.  

"I think they were amused by it," he recalled.

But the rewards outweighed the risks, and the community has embraced the new airfield. Even the drone racing team Multi-GP uses the park for events and training.

"There is a lot of regulations on the drones and what people can and can't do with them, so us having this, we're able to fly basically whenever we want," chapter president Chris Thomas explained. 

In the end, Smith sees drone racing not only as an outlet for teens who don't play traditional sports, but also as a career path. 

"These things are going to be used for everything from mapping to delivery systems. They're going to need programmers, repair people, and all kinds of specialists in these industries," Smith continued. 

And what's most rewarding for Smith is seeing the community work together.  "This is really what government is supposed to do: You listen to people in the community, you find what their wants and needs are, and you fit it within what is doable."

The Lecanto Drone Park is located at 3494-3798 W. Educational Path in Lecanto.

LINK: To learn more about the Multi-GP race team, visit: http://ec2-52-1-39-162.compute-1.amazonaws.com/chapters/view/-Citrus-Drone-Racing

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