Army drone racer Private Mackenzie Togo has been recognised for his dedication and commitment to the establishment and growth of the Australian Army Drone Racing Team.

It has become one of Army’s most proactive and far-reaching youth Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) engagement initiatives.

Commander 6 Brigade Brigadier Michael Ascough, on behalf of the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, presented Private Togo with the Army gold commendation recognising his tireless and exemplary performance as captain of the Army Drone Racing Team and Vice President of the Army Drone Racing Association.

Private Togo, a Bundjalung man and Army Reserve infantry soldier, has been the driving force behind the Army Drone Racing Team since its inception in 2017. A drone enthusiast and Indigenous Youth Liaison Officer, Private Togo jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the team and was made captain in 2019. 

Awarding the Chief of Army’s gold commendation, Brigadier Ascough praised Private Togo’s contribution and commitment to advancing the Army drone racing initiatives and raising the profile of Army to potential recruits as exemplary. 

“Private Togo is particularly commended for his dedication and devotion to engagement with Indigenous youth,” Brigadier Ascough said. 

“He has been instrumental to the Army Drone Racing Team’s success at events such as the Formula One Grand Prix, Avalon International Air Show, the Military International Drone tournament, the inaugural Army Cadet Drone Racing Camp and countless open days and science exhibitions throughout Australia and New Zealand.”

Private Togo said he was surprised and humbled by the awarding of the commendation that was fittingly presented during the Army Drone Racing Team’s engagement activity at the World of Drones and Robotics Congress in Brisbane.

“I am very honoured to be awarded this commendation,” he said. 

“The opportunity to be a part of the Army Drone Racing Team has been amazing and I am humbled to be able to share my experiences as a soldier, indigenous man and a drone racer with our young people.

“Drone racing is so much more than putting on goggles and flying a drone around a field. The spirit of mateship in the team, the sense of purpose and the real life skills that you get from drone racing is so rewarding.”

Drone racing is rapidly emerging as a growing sport largely because of its accessibility, low cost of equipment and first-person pilot view of the race action. Drone racing is an authorised and encouraged adaptive sport in the Australian Army. 

The Army Drone Racing Team continues to be involved in activities both within and outside of Defence to promote and encourage involvement in this very different but popular sport.