FAI Aeromodelling Commission (CIAM)

27 May 2024

Staying ahead of the competition: Drone Racing Pilot Killian Rousseau

Ace drone racing pilot Killian Rousseau from France is one of the scene’s top racers, crowned champion of six major competitions since first storming to the top of the podium of the 2018 FAI Drone Racing World Cup aged just 14.

Just like on the drone racing track itself, staying ahead in the chase to become one of the top competitors on the international circuit has required navigating some significant obstacles. How has he juggled training and studies alongside an intense travel schedule, and what characteristics have meant that he has stood out from the crowd for so long? In the following interview, Killian Rousseau shares an insight into the life of a champion drone racing pilot...

Congratulations on winning the FAI Drone Racing World Cup 2023! Yourself and Pawel Laszczak were both close in points, but quite far ahead of the other competitors. Are you pleased with your performances in 2023?
The season was really close between Pawel and me, there was no room for any mistakes during the entire season because the points were really tight. My goal was to perform the best I could in all the FAI competitions, and in a total of six races I finished on the podium six times with three victories, two silver medals and one bronze, making me World Cup winner of this year for the second time in my career. That has been my objective so far.

Tell us about your training schedule, do you use a simulator or mostly fly a physical course? What are your objectives for 2024 in the FAI World Cup and WDRC?
My schedule this year will be 100 percent focused on racing, I do practice every 2 days in general, plus the simulator every day, to perform the best I can.

This year I will fight again to defend my title and travel around the world to challenge myself. My goal is to take another world title and also put in a good performance at the World Championships at the end of the year (at least better than last year where I finished 18th.)

Are you hoping to compete at The World Games 2025 in Chengdu, and did you have a good experience in Alabama in 2022?
I hope to compete in The World Games in 2025 in Chengdu because this is, for me, one of the most famous events around the world, and it’s an awesome achievement to be invited and able to compete in this event. I also have to defend my title from 2022 and this is my chance to do it. This is exactly why I invest so much time, practice and hard work into drone racing.

My experience in 2022 was incredible, the global event was so big and impressive and my wish is to make it to The World Games again. It's a race where every single pilot fought together to be there and a recognition of all our hard work.

Killian FPV of dron racing at The World Games 2022

Aside from drone racing, are you studying or working?
Drone racing is a really big part of my everyday life and it also takes a lot of time to travel around the world for different competitions. Besides this, a few months ago I also started my own drone filming company after passing my studies in commerce last year.

You have to travel a lot for competitions, what do you enjoy about the lifestyle of a champion drone racer? And what do you find difficult about it?
I really enjoy travelling with friends to compete in the biggest races on the most beautiful tracks and with the best pilots in the world. This feeling of competing and beating the other top pilots in the discipline gives an incredible feeling of accomplishment. The most difficult part is not the practising or trying to win one of the biggest racing competitions, but to try and stay at the top during all this time with new really great pilots arriving in the discipline, and also because of the technology changing very quickly each year.

Killian Rousseau Drone Pilot WDRC2023
Killian in Namwon, Korea at the FAI World Drone Racing Championships 2023. Image: Yong-chan NAM / KAMA

What do you think has made you so successful?
I think it's down to my regularity over the past years. I always tried to practice as much as I could, investing myself so hard practicing late at night on the simulator, and flying during the daytime to achieve my maximum potential before each race, be as fast but also as consistent as I can. Over the years I have gained a lot of experience, so I can adapt to manage in any situation.

Drone Racing is FAI’s ‘youngest’ air sport, with a lot of very talented young pilots, and a greater proportion of juniors each year. Do you have any advice for people starting to compete about managing school studies alongside their sporting career?
My best advice to start with would be to meet people, fly with them, learn, and go to as many competitions as you can to challenge yourself. School is important, like work is, so I would recommend not to give everything to your sport but make sure to have fun whilst you are doing it. That's what I do to keep practicing that hard after such a long time. And finally, never quit till you reach your objective.

FPVs have changed a lot since you first started aged 12. What have been the main game changers so far in drone racing?
Since I started aged 12 in 2017, I never took a break and continued competing regularly, which has given me a lot of experience. The game changers in drone racing for me have been the World Championships each year and The World Games competitions, who make the discipline bigger and bigger each year with more competitors. These beautiful events give goals to pilots to compete and fight the entire year to get a chance to come.

Good luck to Killian in his 2024 events and beyond!

Killian Rousseau drone pilot

Major achievements to date

Follow Killian Rousseau