In honor of Hannibal’s own William Lear, inventor of the Learjet, who was born June 26, 1902, the city hosted a two-day drone race at Hannibal-LaGrange University over the weekend with the Inaugural Bill Lear Innovator’s Cup Drone Racing Finals. The competition was held outside the Mabee Sports Complex at the Hannibal LaGrange University campus.
40 pilots from eight states competed for a chance to win part of the $6,000 prize purse. Racers used First Person View (FPV) as they raced their drones through special gates and courses.
Patrick White, reigning 2019 collegiate drone racing champion, of Amityville, N.Y., won first place. Second place went to Christian Van Sloun of Des Moines, Iowa, and third place went to 13-year old Silas Grever of Mount Vernon, Ill, the youngest competitor.
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The Bill Lear Innovator’s Cup Drone Racing Finals is named after Hannibal native William (Bill) Lear, inventor and innovator. Some of his most notable inventions are the car radio and the Lear jet, and at the time of his death, he held over 150 patents.
Drone racing began in Australia in late 2013 and early 2014 and the first major event in the United States took place at the California State Fair in 2015.