Drone Racing Club Hits Turbulence With City Of Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The hobby of flying drones is exploding across the country.  It's fast, fun and a part of the future of outdoor recreation.  "It is very fun to watch, it's fast paced, the crashes are fantastic and it's a lot of fun for everybody," said Will Dobbins, president of the 515 First Person View drone racing club.  With 20 member club, Dobbins looked to spread their wings.  "There are probably five or six dedicated drone racing parks in the nation right now that I know of," said Dobbins.

The club secured a three year lease with the city of Des Moines for a plot of land at 3325 Hubble.  Dobbins said, "This used to be a mobile home park, we are in the Midwest, we cheekily called it 'Tornado Alley.'  When we found this place and got approved for it the entire club was excited about it."

A month into the lease the city told Dobbins that same passionate frenzy was causing turbulence for pedestrians. Dobbins added, "The parks department and the real estate department both emailed me within minutes of each other saying they were pulling the lease.  I was shocked."

The club was given sixty days to pack up their drones and fly away.  "I have not been given any direct complaints. The closest is that we locked the facility which is incorrect," said Dobbins.

Dobbins claims all safety precautions within the lease agreement were followed, "We actually went above and beyond that and told people not to fly beyond the trees which is more than one hundred feet from the fence and our lease goes out to the sidewalk."

Club members fear that taking away the designated space will create a higher risk for the public.  Dobbins said, "What we are trying to avoid, as an organization, is people going down and picking up a drone and going to a park and flying it with other people around."

The city of Des Moines tells 13 News they will have someone available to comment Friday morning on the issue.  Dobbins says he plans to meet with city staff on May 22nd.

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