TAMPA (FOX 13) - A movement is taking off in fields all over Florida: Think NASCAR meets the Wright Brothers.
Most people think drones are weapons of war, or used for surveillance. But drone racing could become the next big spectator sport.
"It's becoming global really fast," said Cody Matson, one of the sport's top pilots. "Usually it's eight guys taking off at once, fighting to get through a hoop that's a 4- to 5-foot arch."
A regional qualifying race was recently held in a large Central Florida field with various flags and arches erected around the course. They serve as guides for the pilots, who wear goggles to see live video transmitted from the point-of-view camera attached to the drone.
When racing starts, drones rip through the air, each jockeying for position with a meddlesome buzz. The competition is keen, but at the end of the day, it's all about fun -- and maybe some bragging rights.
Multi GP, the world's largest drone racing organization, is based here in Florida. They sponsor many drone racing events but founder Chris Thomas believes there's a higher calling for this burgeoning sport -- something most people agree our country needs.
"There's been a huge initiative here in the U.S. to encourage more kids at the junior high school level to pursue a career involving science and technology," he explained. "So this is that magic bullet to get those kids involved."
In the future, the stakes could be even higher: A recent race in Dubai had winnings of up to a million dollars.
MARK WILSON REPORTS: Be sure to tune in to FOX 13 tonight at 10 for more on the races here in Florida.