Drone enthusiast sets his sights on expanding

Drone enthusiast sets his sights on expanding his business

Three months after opening his first Drone-Games arena at Lawnton, aircraft engineer Darren Stone is already looking to expand and offer more courses for flying enthusiasts.

With more people becoming interested in drones – a flying robot that is controlled remotely – Mr Stone has set his sights on expanding into southeast Queensland, and possibly interstate.

“I would love to have multiple venues for families to come and have some fun, including one in North Brisbane, one in South Brisbane and two out in the regional areas, although I haven’t decided where yet,” Mr Stone said.

“I would also love to look at opening up in Sydney and Perth. I have had a few people from Western Australia asking us to bring Drone-Games to them.

“I believe what we have done here at Drone-Games is a world first - nothing has been done anywhere else in the world to this extent with drones.”

Mr Stone was introduced to drones through his asset management business, Asset Excellence, when clients asked if he could conduct inspections in complicated and restricted areas with drones.

From there his passion grew and he and his family started a mobile business, setting up pop-up nets and obstacles at schools, events and various businesses.

In November 2021, they opened the doors to their first permanent location on Paisley Dve at Lawnton.

Mr Stone describes his business as a “destination venue” – once you have visited, it’s hard not to come back.

“The great thing about Drone-Games is it’s cheap to do, engaging, and can be played by anyone of all ages and abilities,” he said.

“Here at Lawnton, we have two netted areas where people can safely fly the drones through a range of fun obstacles and courses, which adds a little more excitement as they test their flying skills.”

Some of the challenges include flying the drone through tyres, tunnels, weaving around air gates, knocking down cans, and even “Drone Bowling” (10 pin bowling using the drone as the ball).

“Drone bowling is really popular,” Mr Stone said.

“We will be starting up a competition that we will hold on Friday nights at the Lawnton arena.”

The sky is the limit 

As part of their expansion plan, Mr Stone has partnered with UAV Training Australia to help aspiring pilots obtain a remote pilot license.

“Drones are easy to fly out in big, open areas, but they are much harder to navigate when you get into smaller areas,” he said.

“That’s why we have teamed up with UAV Training Australia and set up a corporate training room to teach the correct and safe way to operate/pilot a drone.

“People will be taught how to use the drone in smaller confined spaces, as well getting outside and flying the drone at Rob Akers Reserve Strathpine.

“I found there was a need to offer this service because drones are extremely popular – you see a lot of people getting them as presents.

“You often see kids and adults using them in the park and they are flying around everywhere, then they might crash them or lose them, and then they go back in the cupboard.

“That’s where we come in – we provide a fun and challenging space and keep you interested in playing with your drone and potentially curating an interest to go the next steps, learn more and potentially gain a license.”

Support local

As a new business, Mr Stone said support from the community was vital and welcomed the Back a Local campaign, a six-week campaign launched by Moreton Bay Regional Council.

It encourages people eat, drink, shop, play, spend at and back a local business.

“This campaign is great because it encourages people to support their local businesses,” he said.

“We are a local business, and we are only new, but we do need your support.

“We have got plans to evolve but that is an expensive project, so we have to do it carefully.

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Peter Flannery wants people to show their support by thinking local first.

“I hope to see consumers develop a greater awareness of local businesses and the huge difference their support can make to the local business owners, their staff and families,” he said.

In the spirit of locals backing locals, Drone Games is also giving back to their community by sponsoring the player of the match for the Peninsula Power Football Club for the season.

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