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FPV for kids: how young is too young to fly FPV, and is FPV bad for your eyes?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about FPV for kids. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

How young can kids fly FPV? Is it bad for the eyes? I’m interested in my son, who is 10 years old, getting into flying FPV.

-Ryan

Hey Ryan,

Of course kids can fly  FPV! In fact, some of the best FPV pilots in the world are kids!

I reached to some friends who are competitive FPV champions, as well as some friends who are drone pilots and parents, to help answer your question in detail.

For starters, as FPV pilot Jessika ‘Dronehart’ points out, Ashton Gamble, who goes by the pilot name “Drobot Racer” is 11 years old, and British teen Luke Bannister was just 13 when he won the $250,000 grand prize at the inaugural World Drone Prix in Dubai.

Lorie Grabham, president of the Saguaro chapter of AUVSI, got her daughter into flying at age 10, while Amelia Droneharts founder Rhianna Lakin said her kids have been flying with her since age 5.

“FPV doesn’t have an age limit,” she said. “I think the biggest issue is they probably need mentoring.”

Razan Alzayani/Bloomberg

As far as your question about the impact on eyesight — that’s a valid concern. I reached out to Hexinair creator and champion drone racer Zoe Stumbaugh, who calls herself an ‘HMD (that’s head-mounted display) nerd’ and has taught pilots as young as 9 years old.

She said that the amount of exposure is key. Since drone racers are relatively short — under 5 minutes, that small amount of exposure doesn’t have a significant impact.

Here was Stumbaugh’s response:

“It’s pretty much all about interpupillary distance and strain using goggles. Kids aren’t fully grown and tend to have a smaller IPD that falls out of the normal range of most goggles. 63-69mm is industry standard for the most part,” she said.

“In theory long exposure to use of micro-display goggles with improper IPD could cause problems, like hours of exposure at a time over a prolonged period of time of months/years. Funny enough, using a proper IPD goggle over time could alleviate any vision issues created from improper IPD, and may be a way of treating lazy eye and a few other eye disorders.”

You may want to look into a single screen and a Fresnel lens, allowing both eyes no matter their distance to focus on a single screen. Stumbaugh recommends checking out the VR007‘s or the nicer FatShark Transformers, which have options for binocular view and monocular viewers. Bonus points: they’re cheaper than other FPV goggles!

Looking to get into drone racing? Here’s a great starter kit.

Happy flying!

 

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