A student drone team at Bellbrook High School has earned the national championship for the second year in a row, the district announced Wednesday.
The “Hog Flyers” were crowned champions in Denver, Colorado, the weekend of May 13-14, beating eight other teams in the competition run by the national Drones in School education program.
The Flyers swept the high school division in all categories: video presentation, portfolio and display, design and engineering, capture-the-flag and head-to-head, as well as the overall award.
While flying is a major part of competition, the team builds their drone themselves, then work to continually modify it for best results, the district said. Some team members work on videos and collaborate with sponsors to get the funding they need to purchase better parts, remake their drones and go on trips to tournaments.
“There is a whole other side to this, other than flying a drone,” student Seth Gedeon said. “There are so many different aspects.”
“It’s like one-third racing, and two-thirds design process and marketing,” said lead pilot and technician Garrett Becker.
The entire team is composed of juniors, the district said. Other members of the team include Rylan Carper, Zach Goodrich, Ben Roach, and Mikuya Ford.
John Lefeld, whose brother Issac was on the national title team last year, 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, he said.
“They are already looking forward to next year,” Drones coach Dave 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.”
The Hog Flyers followed up on the Monkey Brains team’s national victory 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.
However, when they got to Nationals, none of those rankings mattered, the district said.
“I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of both the Hog Flyers and the Speed Demonz (Bellbrook’s other drone team, which finished fourth),” 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.”