Aerial Drone Competition Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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What is the Aerial Drone Competition? 

Supported by the REC Foundation, the Aerial Drone Competition offers an exciting educational drone sporting event that focuses on hands-on, student-centered learning. 

Teams learn about drones, flight principles, programming, documentation, and communication skills while expanding their understanding of and building interest in drone-related workforce and career opportunities. 


What age is the Aerial Drone Competition For?

The Aerial Drone Competition is recommended for students grades 5-12. 

How many students are on a team? 

We recommend 3-5 students per team. Each team needs one drone.

A school or organization can register multiple teams to accommodate student interest. Each school/organization registers a base number, such as 1234, and each team within that base number has a letter, such as 1234A, 1234B, etc. A base number can support up to 22 teams from a single organization. 

How much time do teams need to practice? 

This can vary from program to program based on resources and age of the students. A typical team will practice 2-4 hours per week after school. 

How do I register a team and how much does it cost? 

Visit to register. 

The first team to register for a base number is $200.00 (US). Additional teams may be added to the original base number for an additional cost of $150.00 (US) each. After 6 additional teams have been added to the same base number, registrations for teams 7-22 are free for that base number.

  • One team registration is $200 
  • Two (2) teams registration is $350 
  • Five (5) teams registration is $800 
  • Six (6) to Twenty-Two (22) Teams registration is $950

Are there teams/events in my area? 

Aerial Drone Competition is a growing program at the REC Foundation, and we are expanding nationwide. We encourage you to check for the latest events. As this season gets underway, new teams and events will continue to be added. Please reach out to the program manager at to discuss development in your area. 


What equipment do I need to compete in the Aerial Drone Competition? 

A drone, controller, a computer for programming, and spare parts (batteries, motors, propellers). 

What drones are legal for competition? 

For the 2023-2024 Season, there are 3 legal drones: CoDrone EDU,  CoDrone EDU (JROTC Edition), and Parrot Mambo. 

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Where do I order drones? 

  • The CoDrone EDU can be ordered from Robolink.
  • The CoDrone EDU (JROTC Edition; US designed and American Security Drone Act-compliant) is coming soon.
  • The Parrot Mambo has been discontinued and is hard to find/order at this time. 

How do I troubleshoot when my CoDrone EDU or controller isn’t working properly?

Solutions to the most common problems can be found at Robolink Website Help Page

What equipment do I need to set up a field?

For the 2023-2024 season, there will be two field layouts at events. One will be used for the Piloting Teamwork Mission and the other for the Piloting and Autonomous Flight Missions. 

Piloting Teamwork Mission Field 

You will need the following 

  • Competition Elements
    • One Red Arch Gate
    • One Blue Arch Gate
    • One Blackout Screen
    • One Green Keyhole Gate
    • One Yellow Keyhole Gate
    • One Blue Landing Pad
    • One Red Landing Pad
    • One 12” Blue Landing Box
    • One 12" Red Landing Box
  • Game Elements
    • 30 Red Balls
    • 30 Blue Balls
    • 4 White Balls
    • 4 Green Pillars
    • 2 Foam Rollers
  • PVC - customers need to purchase PVC on their own at the local hardware store.  

Piloting and Autonomous Flight Missions Field

You will need the following 

  • Competition Field Elements
    • 1 Red Arch Gate
    • 1 Blue Arch Gate
    • One Green Keyhole Gate
    • One Yellow Keyhole Gate
    • One Blue Landing Pad
    • One Red Landing Pad
    • One 18” Blue Landing Box
    • One 18" Red Landing Box
  • Game Elements
    • 2 Programming Mats
    • 3 Color Mats
    • 16 Bean Bags

Where do I purchase competition and game elements? 

You can purchase competition and game elements from Drone Competition Gates.

Does the field and game change each year? 

The competition elements (Arch Gates, Keyhole Gates, and Landing Pads) will be used from year to year. Each year we will reveal a new game that will include different game elements; therefore, new game elements will need to be purchased each year by the team/organization. 


Where can I read the rules for this year’s competition?

Mission 2024: Eclipse Competition Manual can be found on the REC Foundation Aerial Drone Competition Webpage.

What is a competition like? 

Students participate in 4 missions at an Aerial Drone Competition.

  1. Piloting Teamwork Mission: An exciting challenge presented in the form of a game that changes each year. For the 2023 -2024 Season, two teams form an alliance and work together. Teams fly around the field to score as many points as possible during a 90 second match. 
  2. Autonomous Flight Mission: One team competes against the clock to score as many points as possible in a 1-minute match. Students will program their drones to score points entirely autonomously. 
  3. Piloting Skills Mission: One team competes against the clock to score as many points as possible in a 1-minute match. Students will pilot their drones to score points.
  4. Communication Mission: Students will showcase their workforce development skills through teamwork, critical thinking, project management, and communication skills that will assist in preparing them to become the next generation of innovators and problem solvers. Teams will be interviewed by judges and submit their Competition Logbook for evaluation. 

Competitions typically take place on Saturdays and run from approximately 8am - 4pm. 

What is the cost to attend competitions? 

Once your team is registered with the REC Foundation, the fee to attend a local competition varies by state and region. Registration fees for a competition typically range from $50 - $100 per team. Championship events may be more. Please visit to determine the cost of each event in your region. 

Where can I find a competition?

Visit to search for Aerial Drone Competitions near you. Don’t see an event near you? Consider being an event host! We’ll train and support you all along the way.


When/where are the Aerial Drone Competition Regional Championships? 

Championship Region Location City, State Date
Northeast Fairmont State University Fairmont, West Virginia May 17 - May 18, 2024
Southeast Mississippi Coliseum Jackson, Mississippi April 12 - April 13, 2024
North Central Kettering University Flint, Michigan May 17 - May 18, 2024
South Central Tulsa Community College School of Science and Aeronautics Tulsa, Oklahoma April 19 - April 20, 2024
West Legacy Event Center Salt Lake City, Utah May 31 - June 1, 2024
JROTC National Championship Batesville Civic Center Batesville, MS April 4 - April 6, 2024
Middle School Only Championship*
University of Tennessee - Chattanooga 
Tennessee May 16 - 17, 2024

*For the 2023-2024 season, Middle School teams have the option of registering for and attending the Championship in their assigned region OR attend the Middle School Only Championship in Tennessee.

Which Regional Championship can I attend?

Teams are assigned to regions and will be invited to the Regional Championship of their assigned region as shown on the map below.

Region Included States
Northeast Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia
Southeast Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
South Central Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
North Central Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota
West Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

How do we earn a spot at a Regional Championship? 

Teams that earn selected awards at local qualifying events will be invited to their Regional Championship.  The number of teams and invitations issued depends on factors including:

  • # of Registered Teams
  • # of Events in a Region
  • Size of Regional Championship

Please read the qualifying criteria for more information.

More information

Where can I find more information?

Check out the Aerial Drone Competition Library for additional documentation for teams, event partners, judges, and volunteers.

How can I learn more? 

Contact the Aerial Drone Program Team at