Today is the day after our visit to an event tipped to be the hottest drone based show in the UK. Was it worth all of the hype? Here’s what I think.

The success of the the show will be subjective for each and every person that attends so this review may not sit well with every single person. Having looked around on the internet I’ve seen a mixed bag of comments and tweets floating around. 

My day started early on Sunday 6th December. I traveled up to the N.E.C. in Birmingham, with a friend, to see what all the fuss was about. It was raining pretty hard in Bristol so I was thankful the show was inside. I had two objectives in mind:

  1. Help promote Drone List to people I feel would benefit from our services and also chat to a few operators already signed up.
  2. Pick up a few deals as a fix for my weekend flying habit.

There are two sides to the industry as drones can clearly be split into two different categories: Hobbyist and Commercial. This was very evident at the show and having spoke to people from both sides, each said they thought there was too much of the other. I guess this means there was an equal amount of both to keep most people happy…. or it could just mean people just like to moan. For myself this wasn’t a problem. As i said above, I wanted to reach out to people on a commercial level as well as getting a fix for my hobby.

Whilst I did manage to speak to a few of our listed operators, DroneX being one of them, I didn’t quite get thrill and excitement from the hobbyist side of the show. I personally wanted a new set of FatSharks whilst my friend was pretty interested in picking up a new FrSky Taranis. I expected both items to be sold by a number of retailers given the fact they are both well known brands at the top of their game. To my surprise, we could not find either for sale. Anywhere! We did find lots of other, cheaper Chinese, goggles but nobody had what I wanted! The same goes for the Taranis. Lots of Spektrum radio gear on show but not much more. For this reason I feel a little let down from the exhibitors attending the show. The exception to this, for me, was Fossils Stuff. The home-grown UK based manufacturer had a great looking stand. They were showing off their products and even a sneak peak of their prototype drone, The Event Horizon. Martin, MD of Fossils Stuff, was only too happy to talk to us and run us through his products and why he believed they were the best on the market. I must admit, I tend to agree with him!

I’m fairly lucky, or unlucky depending on which way you look at it, to have been in and the world of events and exhibitions for a little while. As well as enjoying the show for what it was, I feel there are a few fundamental areas that could be improved upon for in future by the organisers.

  1. Food. This was a huge let down in my experience. There wasn’t much choice at all and was exchanged for extortionate amounts of money.
  2. FPV racing. The racing circuit really could have done with a large display of on board footage from the drones. We did find one small TV but it wasn’t enough to keep most people happy. If you can’t see a TV there isn’t much else to look at as the racers are so small!
  3. Parking charges. Whilst the organisers may have no control over the parking charges at the N.E.C, I feel it should have been explained in a much clearer way. A £12 parking charge isn’t going to make me go hungry for a week however this increases my entry cost by 100%, I think it should be made much clearer.

For an inaugural show, I must commend the organisers for their effort. The show was an overwhelming success with no hitches or hold backs. Having said that, I did leave feeling a little deflated knowing that I didn’t find the deal I wanted. A great mix of commercial drone stands were well dispersed between the hobbyist based stands, the flying zone and….. a marquee company? The conversations I heard taking place tended to gravitate around Safety with the likes of the BMFA and professional NQE’s, Rusta included, hitting the message home.

For this reason I’d award the UK Drone Show 4 out of 5 stars. Hopefuly next year we can see a few small improvements implemented.stars

Do you have any thoughts on the show? Let us know with a comment below.