The sky’s the limit

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TEST YOURSELF: Thailand's drone racing champion is flying high

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Read the following story by Karnjana Karnjanatawe from the Bangkok Post. Then, answer the questions that follow.

Wanraya fell in love with drone flying instantly. A 6th-grader at Suvit Serianusorn Primary School in Bangkok, who just turned 12, Wanraya Wannapong won the first Women's FAI World Drone Racing Championship, held by the World Air Sports Federation in Shenzhen, China recently. She was the youngest champion at the event.


Wanraya started flying drones when she was eight years old. Her father, Arwut, now 48, introduced her to them as way of encouraging her to do an outdoor activity.

"We used to play with a remote-controlled helicopter when she was seven years old. She liked it and was able to control it well, even though her hands were small," Arwut recalled. So when drones became the hot new thing, he encouraged his children to try. Wanraya's big brother didn't like it. But his little sister certainly did. 

"It's fun," she said, going on to explain that she likes flying drones because it gives her freedom. When she puts on the head-mounted display, she sees through the camera at the front of the drone and flies it as if seated in the pilot's seat.

Wanraya and her father practise for two hours every day after school and for half a day at the weekend at a vacant lot in Phatthanakan. Arwut checks the readiness of the drone, then gives her the signal to go. Wanraya wastes no time in getting it off the ground. She flies fast, up and down, left and right around all manner of obstacles. The more she practises, the more confidence she has for the next race.

"She’s a quick learner, and sharp. She can compete with adults. She has the skill and I want her to succeed in the thing that she loves," he said. During their first year, father and daughter entered numerous events. Though she often lost, she never gave up. She admitted, though, that she cried sometimes, especially when her drone was hit by another during a race, instantly disqualifying both. She always felt frustrated to lose a race through no fault of her own.


She has to be as fast as possible to avoid getting hit. Her technique is not to blink. When flying at speeds of up to 170km per hour, that millisecond where you blink is enough to cause an accident. On average, the eyes blink every four seconds -- about 15 times per minute. So during each race, which normally lasts about one and a half minutes, Wanraya blinks only a couple of times.

"I had to train myself not to blink. Sometimes, my eyes hurt because of the dryness. I use eye drops," she said.

Her skills keep improving day by day. And her efforts started bearing fruit last year. She was invited to join NexxBlades Racing's young pilot team, one of the world's leading drone racing teams from Britain. They entered the Drone Prix Munich, a drone champions league held in Germany last June, and finished in fourth place.

"The Drone Prix Munich was the most challenging race because the tracks were built over water. It was my first time flying over water. It was scary, but fun. I enjoy team racing," she said.

When asked what she wanted to be in the future, Wanraya she said she aims to be an international drone champion, like 14-year-old Minchan Kim from South Korea, the world's best drone pilot.

"He's my idol," she said.

Section 1: Read through the story and answer the following questions. 

1. How old was Wanraya when she won the competition in Shenzhen? …………….

2. Wanraya has a younger brother. True or false? …………….

3. How many days a week does Wanraya practise? …………….

4. What’s the fastest speed her drone flies at? …………….

5. How often do people usually blink? ………….....

6. What does the idiom ‘bearing fruit’ mean?

a. Winning a race. b. Being successful. c. Growing fruit.

7. Where is NexxBlades from? 

a. Britain. b. Germany. c. Munich. 

8. Where does the world’s best drone pilot come from?

a. Britain. b. Southeast Asia. c. East Asia.

Section 2: Specify whether each of the following words is used in the story as a verb, noun, adjective or adverb. 

9. well. ……………

10. wastes. ……………

11. frustrated. ……………

12. dryness. ……………

13. idol. ……………

Section 3: Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.

Back in 2015, when she was ….14…. to drone flying, her mother ….15…. the activity, saying that it was a boy's toy. But for Wanraya, drones have no gender barrier. Her supportive father then started training her by laying out simple obstacle courses: two poles 30m ….16…., around which she would try making a loop. Later, he asked his drone-flying friends if she could take part ..17.. their weekly races. The result was ….18…. . His daughter always won, even against the ….19…. .

14. a. beginner b. first c. new

15. a. opposed b. against c. supposed

16. a. wide b. apart c. aside

17. a. on b. in c. with

18. a. impression b. impressed c. impressive

19. a. against b. with c. because of

Section 4: Find a word used in the story that matches the following definitions.

20. Immediately.

21. New, exciting and popular.

22. Empty; not being used.

23. Agreed that something is true.

24. Frightening.


1. 11 years old. 2. False.  3. Six.  4. 170km per hour.  5. Every four seconds/15 times per minute.  

6. b.   7. a.    8. b.

9. adverb    10. verb 11. adjective 12. noun  13. noun 

14. c. 15. a. 16. b. 17. b. 18. c. 19. a.

20. instantly. 21. hot. 22. vacant.   23. admitted.   24. scary. 


21-24: Excellent! 17-20: Good.   13-16: Fair.   12 or fewer: You'll do better next time!


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