The buzzing in the air as I arrive is intensified by the impressive emptiness of my surroundings: a massive warehouse filled with the husks of disused cars, resting here and there about the vast upper floor of the Depot. It’s a former furniture factory located in the Castlemilk district in southern Glasgow that now serves as an arena for airsoft, a pellet-gun target game. It’s here where I meet Keiren, Fraser and Calum. By day, they’re a car mechanic, an IT professional, and a railroad worker. At this moment in the Depot, however, these three friends are drone racers.
Tiny flying machines, controlled by remote, whiz to and fro. Meanwhile, the guys are wearing headsets that stream video from the flying drone's point of view — giving the wearer the impression that they're sitting in a cockpit.
I ask Fraser — a car mechanic originally from Drymen and now living in Glasgow, and who is one of the highest ranked drone racers in Scotland — if his work with cars has any overlap with his hobby. “I like tinkering with stuff and I think it has a lot to do with my job,” he explains. “I like anything that’s fast and exciting, like cars and tuned-up drones.”
There are few signs left of the vast factory that The Depot once was; a few peppered wooden structures and busted cars providing cover for the airsoft course, the floor spattered here and there with droppings from the pigeons who have made their homes in the rafters. Their coos are barely audible today among the wasp-like din of the drones.