Trevor Bauer: the pro athlete who races drones

Trevor Bauer is best known as a starting pitcher on the Cleveland Indians. If it were up to him, though, he’d rather make a name for himself in a different field.

“I’d rather be known as a nerd than an athlete,” Bauer told AirVuz.com back in 2016.

Bauer said those words about wanting to be known as a nerd on the same day he took part in his first-ever drone race. The 27-year-old pitcher has long been interested in science and technology. He studied engineering in college at UCLA, and often uses science and mathematical principles when fine-tuning his pitching mechanics.

Racing drones — or mini quadcopters — have been a passion of Bauer’s for several years. When he’s on the road during Cleveland’s long season (which spans from April to September — or October when the Indians are in the playoffs), Bauer brings his drone with him. He often flies freestyle with his first-person view (FPV) drone, performing tricks and maneuvers around obstacles.

“I’ll find a park and fly a couple packs freestyle and set up a race course just with natural obstacles, trees, bushes, whatever,” Bauer said. “I made some air gates out of PVC and pool noodles. I’ve been starting to set those up. Mostly just trying to work on control of the copter and making it do what I want it to do, and then figure out when I get out to races … so I can control it well enough I’ll be able to get through the course.”

Bauer even loves drones so much, he designated an entire page on his new website to his hobby. These are not the types of drones that other professional athletes are flying, though. Bauer custom builds each of his mini quads, using his technology background to make tweaks to his drones or to repair them if something breaks.

Often times, he’ll travel with multiple drones in case something happens with one of them. That was the case last summer when Bauer and the Indians were in Minneapolis for a series against the Minnesota Twins. As he often does on road trips, Bauer brought his backpack with drones and drone gear along for the ride.

He also had the chance to fly with one of the top FPV pilots in the world, Johnny Schaer (known in the drone world as JohnnyFPV). Schaer, a native of the Chicago area, is a Cubs fan and was able to give Bauer a bit of grief when Schaer’s Cubs beat Bauer and the Indians in the 2016 World Series.

“It was about a week after the World Series and I was like, ‘Johnny has a new video. Let me look. Oh, flying the W.’ Not good,” Bauer said. “It was a good video. I enjoyed it.”

Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer (left) and FPV pilot Johnny Schaer take to break to chat about their shared passion during a summer day in Minneapolis.

It was during that run to the World Series that Bauer put drones in the mainstream spotlight — though not necessarily in the way he would have preferred.

While working on one of his drones, the quad fired up and cut Bauer on his finger. The injury required stitches during the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Bauer tried to pitch despite the injury, but his finger kept dripping blood while he was on the mound.

Drones were the talk of the baseball world, for better or worse — thanks in part to Bauer bringing his mini quad to a press conference to talk about the injury.

Bauer has been able to put that incident behind him. Others have joked about it in good nature, including the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Bauer got his start in the majors with the Diamondbacks back in 2012 before he was traded to Cleveland.)

The Aces gave away a Bauer drone bobblehead at one of their games during the 2017 season. Bauer, wearing a Reno uniform for the bobblehead, is also holding a drone as he pitches.

That whole incident certainly got people in the sports world talking about drones, which have already started to cross over a bit into the mainstream sports scene. Schaer is one of several pilots who has competed on the Drone Racing League, which is broadcast by ESPN.

Competing on national television is just one thing Schaer and Bauer share in common, besides their love of drones.

“We both finished second,” Bauer said.

Bauer and Schaer flew together at an abandoned building in Minneapolis, along with local FPV pilots Megan Proulx and Simon Cheng. Even though Bauer isn’t a high-profile name in the drone world, he held his own with the other pilots.

“It’s cool to see Trevor into FPV and drone racing because it’s a growing sport,” Schaer said. “I hope more guys, more ball players get into it. It’s just a ton of fun. Trevor’s an extremely nice guy, so to enjoy the sport with him, it’s awesome.”

Most baseball players have hobbies that they do during the season or in their downtown after the season ends. Some are hunters or fishers. Others are into playing music. Some collect fancy cars.

Bauer flies drones, and flies them fast.

It’s not just the FPV racing drones he’s into, either. Bauer finds time to fly camera drones as well, taking beautiful aerial photos and videos of various locations. And while the majority of camera drone pilots fly products made by Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, Bauer is loyal to the Yuneec brand.

Still, racing drones are Bauer’s primary interest. Although he’d flown for over a year, Bauer had never competed in a race until the fall of 2016 in Minnesota. A local drone group, MAV Meetup, held a race that Bauer joined.

No one there treated him any differently because he was a professional athlete. He was just another drone pilot trying to win a race.

“It’s fun to realize that they may do a different job than a lot of us have, but at the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of nerds having fun,” said race organizer Aaron Sykes, founder of MAV Meetup. “He’s one of the guys. He’s a professional athlete in other walks of his life, but he comes to a community like ours and just enjoy himself and have fun. It’s been really rewarding to see.”

Bauer and the Indians now embark on the 2018 Major League Baseball season with the hopes of getting back to the World Series after falling short in 2017. Bauer will be an important piece for the Indians this year as he looks to build off a career-high 17 wins last season.

As he does, there’s little doubt he’ll continue to find time to fly his drone and spread the word about the growing hobby that he’s passionate about.

“The more people we can get into doing the freestyle and just going out and learning to fly is how it’s going to grow, I think,” Bauer said. “The more people that get into it, the more it’s going to be enjoyable. People don’t actually realize it until they do it.”

AirVūz to Award $1,000 Weekly Prize for Best Drone Video

One thousand dollars is up for grabs in a new weekly drone video contest.

AirVūz.com, the world’s leading drone video and photography sharing platform, announced it is launching the “Drone Video of the Week” contest in which one content creator will be chosen for the weekly USD$1,000 prize. All drone videos uploaded to AirVuz.com are eligible to win. The contest begins April 2.

Each week, the AirVūz curation staff will select five videos as finalists for the contest. Fans will have the chance to vote every Monday through Wednesday to choose the winner from the five finalists. Winning videos will be announced every Friday.

The Drone Video of the Week contest follows the success of the inaugural AirVūz Drone Video Awards, which selected the best drone videos and photos of 2017. Voters chose winners in 13 categories from a total of more than 33,000 videos.

Drone Video Awards analysis: NURKs Flight of the Year

Last week, we took a look at the winner of the Video of the Year award in the inaugural AirVūz Drone Video Awards. The video, “Moscow Aerial 5K” by Timelab.pro, was a visual work of art.

Now it’s time to look at the other big winner of the DVAs — the winner of the FPV Video of the Year. That award was given to Paul Nurkkala, aka nurkfpv, for his “NURK’s Flight of the Year // Trains, Bridges, Rapids, Mountains, Sunset, Gapping, Perching, Powerlooping.”

So what makes Nurk’s video award-worthy? For starters, it was one of those videos what made you say “whoa” as you watched it. When Nurk first released video of what he titled his flight of the year, it took the internet by storm. People in the FPV community praised him, while some outside of the FPV world scolded him for what they deemed was a risky flight. At any rate, the video received plenty of buzz.

There’s not much editing in Paul’s video. In fact, it’s just one shot of a flight from start to finish, with some music — a perfect song choice of “The Train from Washington” by Gil Scott-Heron — in the background. So unlike other videos that won their category in the Drone Video Awards, the editing was not the reason for Paul’s victory.

Instead, it was the things he was able to do with his quad during the flight. Flying under a moving train, inside a train car while it moved, and even a moment where his quad says hello to the train’s conductor all made this a compelling video. Nurk had already made a name for himself in the drone world by competing in the Drone Racing League and having success in other races, but this video definitely added to his profile in the community.

Paul has continued to produce plenty more great videos since his “Flight of the Year” was the talk of the town among FPV pilots. To see more of his work, check out his AirVūz profile. You can also follow him on Instagram.

Incredible Aerial Travel Videos of Iceland

By AirVūz Staff

Iceland’s DRAMATIC LANDSCAPES make it a drone pilot’s paradise. With such a diverse geography, there’s plenty to see and film.

The GOLDEN CIRCLE is a 300km route where you’ll see some of the most famous sights in Southern Iceland. There are hundreds of different tours going on every day of the week.

The BLUE LAGOON is a geothermal spa that’s popular for bathing because of its water which is rich with minerals, like silica. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind.

In Iceland’s capital, REYKJAVIK, you can stroll through the old harbour, visit a Viking museum or take in the view from the historic Hallgrímskirkja church. Reykjavik is also the world’s northernmost capital city.

With OVER 10,000 DIFFERENT WATERFALLS, you’ll surely be amazed by one of these POWERFUL WONDERS. It might be tough to visit them all in one day …

Some of the most famous waterfalls are Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Gullfoss and Goðafoss.

Iceland is also known as “The Land of Fire and Ice.” You could walk on a VOLCANO and take a GLACIER tour in the same day. Talk about polar opposites.

Basalt lava from volcanic eruptions have created amazing black sand beaches like the world famous REYNISFJARA BEACH. You won’t believe it until you see it.

Iceland is also a geyser hotspot and home to THE GREAT GEYSIR. Watch boiling water shoot up to 70 meters high. It was also the first geyser described in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans.

ADVENTURE is waiting in Iceland. When are you going?


To see all of the drone videos featured in this aerial compilation, CLICK HERE!
Drone pilots’s and producers’s work featured in this video are:

Volare Video
mikebishop.tv
bradsommer

Breath of Iceland
anthonytori
DAM
Enrico Pescantini
reisewut.com
elnaz555
Nteschler
Tobias Hägg

Stunning Drone Videos of Brazil

Drone Videos of Brazil

BRAZIL is the fifth largest country in the world. Drone pilots are capturing its vibrancy and varied activities from above. Click any of the links below to watch stunning aerial videos of Brazil’s iconic sites.

RIO DE JANIERO is home to the Christ the Redeemer statue, one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Famous party beaches are also abundant.

Every major Brazilian city has at least one SOCCER stadium. Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup a record five times!

Drone video shows IGUAZU FALLS from above, this exquisite system of waterfalls is the largest in the world.

Brazil contains almost 60 percent of the AMAZON RAINFOREST, which itself represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests.

By land, sea and air, EXTREME ATHLETES take advantage of the country’s varied rugged terrains. Whatever activity you choose, be sure to wear a helmet!

With both ocean and jungle landscapes, NATURE is on display throughout Brazil, humpback whales included.

Do these aerial videos make you want to travel to BRAZIL?


To watch all of the videos featured in this aerial compilation, CLICK HERE!
Drone pilots’s and producers’s work featured in this video are:

emotiondrones
droneaventura
TM Drone
justinpoore
Fabio Knoll
rgdrones
imoveisbrasilbahia
isabellefabre

Drone Video Awards analysis: Moscow Aerial 5K

Over the course of several blog posts, we’ll be taking a look at the winning videos from the 2017 AirVūz Drone Video Awards.  There were a total of 13 winners — 12 videos and a Photo of the Year winner — in our inaugural contest. Each stood out for a different reason, and we’ll go in-depth as to what made this videos great.

We’ll be starting with the best for the first of this series. The Russian drone company Timelab.pro produced a stunning video of Moscow that won the “Cities” category of the contest. That video was also chosen as the overall Drone Video of the Year — and it’s easy to see why.

One of the first indicators of the quality of this video is in its title: “Moscow Aerial 5K.” It’s not often we see videos shot in 5K, but the guys at Timelab.pro used the DJI Inspire 2 drone to produce high-quality footage. That in itself sets this film up for success.

Another key ingredient of “Moscow Aerial 5K” is the opening shot. The first several seconds of a drone video are crucial to keeping the viewer engaged, and this video does just that. You’re instantly drawn in by the statue while also seeing the beautiful sunrise in the background. The second shot of the film, a close-up of the statue, continues to keep you interested in watching more.

The color grading of the video is also a big reason why this film is so successful. If you’re not familiar with color grading, it refers to the editing process of altering the color in post production. The colors in “Moscow Aerial 5K” are stunning, and that’s due in large part to the color grading done after the footage was taken.

One other factor that made this film stand out was it showcased an area we don’t often see in drone videos. Moscow is not a common location in videos on AirVūz, so the uniqueness of that was noted. Pilots Andrew Efimov and Andrew Rodin of Timelab.pro said in an interview for “The Drone Dish” that they actually received some violations for flying over the Kremlin.

It turned out that the violation was worth it. The video earned them the top prize in the AirVuz Drone Video Awards, along with USD $1,000 — and bragging rights for an entire year.

Celebrating International Womens Day with a Guest Blog by Drone Doll!

(We’re inspired by the amazing work of the amazing women who drone – and share their videos on AirVūz – and we’re proud to have Drone Doll on our own Team AirVūz FPV!  Read on to learn the inspiration behind Drone Doll’s start in flying FPV!)

The laces of my pink and white tennis shoes were stained a glorious shade of Minnesota Summer after days of outdoor play and warm nights of bonfires and toasted marshmallows under the northern stars.

I watched from under his workbench as my dad built absolutely pristine model airplanes while I crafted and colored scraps of balsa wood. The dirt under my fingernails didn’t bother me a bit, but even eight year old me knew it wasn’t a good look for when Barbie came by my salon for her multiple daily hair and wardrobe changes.  Despite my unprofessional appearance, she accepted the fact that my love was truer for the toy trucks and legos than it was for her, and there were never any hard feelings on the days when I chose to build roads in the sandy patches of our backyard instead of giving her a new set of bangs that were never going to grow out regardless of how much I willed them to.

Something about myself that I’ve only recently come to realize, is that as a child I was certain that my love for the boy toys was a forbidden one.  All of my girl friends in the neighborhood played with dolls and little pastel colored ponies, so I played with dolls and ponies too. I played with them everyday until one afternoon I decided I would rather push a monster truck through the dirt. My best girl friend was so upset by the notion of me choosing to play with the cootie-ridden neighborhood boys and their crusty toy trucks instead of playing with our dolls, and she expressed her dismay until I eventually succumbed to the pressure and ditched the dirt for the dolls. The expectations became engraved in my young mind that afternoon, and from then on, whenever I felt the urge to pick out a Hot Wheel to cruise around or to build a modest two-bedroom Lego rambler, I waited until the other kids were gone and I played with the toys by myself.

Flash forward twenty years and here I am, playing with the boy toys. Only now I’m part of a global community of young girls and women who proudly play with the boy toys and who are writing history by doing so. When my boyfriend Simon began building and flying racing drones three years ago, he was quick to suggest that I learn how to fly as well. Flying radio control airplanes was something my dad always did with my brother, and I know without a doubt that they both would have been thrilled to teach me how to build and fly had I not already been foolishly convinced by someone who still had all their baby teeth that I should instead be spending my time learning how to braid and make miniature cakes in a miniature pink oven. So of course, my initial instinct in regards to Simon’s suggestion was to refer to those pesky expectations I still carried around in my mind, and they were telling me that flying drones was a guy’s thing and I should just continue to let them rule the hobby. Luckily for Simon, Space Jam was playing on the tv in the background and R. Kelly’s voice rang just a little bit louder, and he was telling me that if I believe, I can fly. So I fly.

Now, as we soar along in this new frontier of drones and flying in First Person View, it brings me so much joy to see girls of all ages being embraced and celebrated by model aircraft hobbyists around the world, a community which has always been dominated by men. These female pilots are bright beacons of light for anyone who wants to knock down the walls of the box that society has built for them. For me, this International Women’s Day serves as a reminder that I should never limit myself to the knowledge, skills and experiences that have been laid out for me by others. The incredible and unforgettable adventures I’ve had since beginning my journey as a drone pilot are numerous, and I’ve found myself skipping gallantly down a magical path that little eight year old me never would have imagined myself to be on some day.

To all of you reading this, don’t ever let yourself become so grounded by another’s expectations that you become too afraid to fly. And to the movers and makers over at Mattel,  I think Barbie would make one hell of a drone racing pilot.

Drone Doll  ❤️

Check out Drone Doll’s great flying, as well as the flying she does with MartyFlyzzzFPV for Til Drone do us Part!

Team AirVūz

#UnitedbyDrone

Continue reading “Celebrating International Womens Day with a Guest Blog by Drone Doll!”

How to take an awesome dronie


If you haven’t already heard, selfies are old news. The best new way to take pictures of yourself is with a drone!

Combine a drone with a selfie and you have a dronie, which is becoming an increasingly popular way for drone pilots to capture their surroundings while also including themselves in the drone video. It’s a great way to add perspective to a landscape, building, or wherever you choose to take your dronie from.

Some of the new drones on the market are being built with the dronie in mind. The Yuneec Breeze was designed with a selfie mode included. Some of DJI’s smaller drones like the DJI Spark also emphasize the ability to easily take a dronie. Truly, though, drones of any size — big or small — are capable of taking an epic dronie.

In fact, it’s not so much about the drone you use to take your dronie. There are plenty of other factors to consider.

Renee Lusano has been taking dronies since before they were cool. For the past few years, the California-based Lusano has brought her drone with her on her travels all around the world. That has resulted in dronies from amazing locations such as a glacier in Iceland,  a frozen ship in Russia, and a suspension bridge in Costa Rica, just to name a few.

Lusano’s collection of cool videos has even earned her the nickname “Queen of Dronies.” She now brings her DJI Mavic with her and is always scouting great locations for her next dronie.

In an interview for “The Drone Dish” on AirVūz, Lusano shared some of her tips for pilots who want to take the perfect dronie. While it may appear to be a simple shot to take, there’s more that goes into it than you might think. Planning out your shot can make a big difference.

Renee Lusano on "The Drone Dish"
Renee Lusano shared her tips for taking an epic dronie during an interview on “The Drone Dish” on AirVuz.com.

“It’s important with the dronie to think about your two shots: where you want to start and where you want to end, and what you want to reveal in your final shot,” Lusano said. “I think a lot of times, especially when I was starting out, I would think a lot about, ‘Wow, I’m on the top of a pyramid,’ or ‘I’m on the edge of a cliff and this would be a beautiful reveal.’

“But I wasn’t thinking about the close-up shot. A lot of times it was me just sitting there kind of awkwardly. I wasn’t smiling. I was concentrating really hard on flying my drone. So you have to think about how you look in the initial shot.”

Lusano adds that you should make sure there aren’t many distractions in the video such as other people or moving traffic. In most of her dronies, Lusano manages to find herself far any from any other people. That helps make the drone pilot the key focus of the dronie.

The movement of the drone is important, too, in a good dronie. Most dronies simply include the drone flying backwards to reveal more of a landscape. In doing so, Lusano says it’s essential to keep your flight smooth.

And while you might thing that a cool location will automatically mean a cool dronie, Lusano said that’s not necessarily the case.

“Composition is everything with a dronie. A lot of times, you may be in an incredible environment and think, ‘Wow, I’ll send the drone off and I’ll take one of these dronies and I’ll reveal where I am,'” she said. “But sometimes a beautiful place doesn’t make for an incredible drone shot. A lot of times, I’ll do a test flight first and fly my drone up and look around and see what looks good.”

Lusano’s work has been featured  in various publications and by the official Instagram account. She was also a finalist in the “Dronie” category of the 2017 Drone Video Awards.

If you’re a drone pilot who loves taking dronies but wants to up your game, or perhaps you’ve never taken one before, watch more of Renee’s epic dronies and get inspired to take an awesome one of your own!