Who doesn't love a good race – especially one through the air? Drone technology has evolved to the point where just about anyone, regardless of skill level or coordination skills, can enjoy being a pilot. This week, we take a look at several aircraft that that have something for beginners and experts alike. Rather keep your feet firmly on the ground? No prob. We've got you covered.
– DRL Air Elite 115 Racing Drone Set (Nikko Air)
If you or your young pilot-to-be is just getting started, the Air Elite 115 is a great entry level drone that comes with a removable circular ring that protects the drone and hard objects like walls from damaging each other. This multi-speed quadcopter is extremely easy to operate, highly responsive, and doesn't require FAA registration. It hovers beautifully and comes preloaded with 16 one-touch stunts that will have your airshow spectators cheering. If you have two of these drones, you can race head-to-head, or you can set up a cool obstacle course or race track using the modular gate system. Although the Air Elite comes with batteries and replacement propellers, there's no GPS or video camera, but it's really intended as a platform for learning the basics of drone piloting. Ages 7+. About $35. http://www.nikkoair.com/
– Lumi Gaming Drone (WowWee)
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Lumi – another terrific piece of technology from WowWee – takes entry-level drones to a whole new place. Piloting Lumi is easy, in case you just want to fly it around or impress people with its one-touch tricks. But flight is just the beginning. WowWee's goal was to "gamify" flight, and they've succeeded in a way that no other entry-level drone company has. Lumi is programmable (using app-based drag-and-drop moves), can follow you around, "dances" to the beat of your favorite tunes, and plays a variety of engaging, interactive games – the kinds of things that wouldn't be possible if you had to spend all your energy trying to keep Lumi afloat and away from obstacles. EZ Flight Technology takes care of that for you so you can focus on having fun. No FAA registration required. Ages 8+. Around $50. https://wowwee.com/lumi
– V2450 GPS Streaming Drone (Sky Viper)
For beginners, this drone offers one-finger navigation, GPS-based position hold (meaning it hovers in place without you having to constantly adjust it, even in windy environments), and a snazzy one-finger Return to Home function (which also kicks in if you fly the drone out of range of the controller). For more experienced pilots who aren't quite so worried about the basic mechanics of flight, this baby records HD video that can be captured with the on-board SD card (which you'll need to provide) or streamed (and recorded, if you want) via the mobile app and your device. No FAA registration required. For ages 12+. About $100. http://sky-viper.com/
– PJ Masks Rival Racers Track Playset (Just Play)
For little ones who aren't quite ready for drones, this racing track playset still provides plenty of excitement for young racers. Based on the hit TV series "PJ Masks," this kit features Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko. Kids can act out adventures they've seen on the show (such as saving the museum from Night Ninja) or create new ones, loop-de-looping, crashing, banking, and smashing to their hearts' content. Comes with poseable figures, two vehicles, and plenty of track and stunt features. For ages 3+. Under $30 at your favorite toy retailer. https://justplayproducts.com
(Armin and Samantha are the authors of the popular parenting blogs: http://www.mrdad.com and http://www.havesippywilltravel.com.
For more reviews of toys and games, visit http://www.parentsatplay.com/)