An unexpected WW1 Battlefield and Champagne Vineyard Tour

Skyschool Uk team with paramotor

Nicola Wallis |

We had planned to run our first ever SkyWeek UK Trip from 7th - 14th July, which would take place in the South West of England.

However, after monitoring the forecast it became apparent that the weather offered us one day of flying at best! This was because of a dip in the Jet Stream, which was causing the low-pressure systems to come further south and bring with them a series of frontal systems and strong winds. Therefore 48 hours before the departure date we changed our plans and decided to head to northern France instead and it didn’t take much persuading to convince the Pilots that this was an inspired idea.

man lading paramotor

We duly crossed the English Channel by ferry from Dover to Calais on Friday 7th July and headed straight to the airfield at Arras. Alex had run a trip here in 2015 and knew the area well. The conditions on the first evening were ideal and everyone managed to fly. The following day they were even better, allowing everyone to fly over Vimy Ridge only 5km away. We then had a tour of the preserved WW1 tunnels and battlefields, which are part of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial site.

ww2 headstones Normandy Beaches
Birdside view of Normandy Beaches Cemetary
les braves memorial monument

On Saturday 8th July we contacted a Dutch Paramotor Instructor called Dennis who, along with his wife Monique, runs a school called Aeroforce. Literally the week beforehand they had moved to Verdun and as the weather forecast was looking good for flying they invited us to visit them. We were treated to a great BBQ at their house, which just so happened to be located on part of the German Trenches in WW1. Alex Dennis is a passionate Military Historian and the following day he guided us on an amazing flight, taking in the Douaumont Ossuary and some of the other forts that surround Verdun. Afterwards, we visited both the Ossuary and Fort Douaumont on foot, which made the whole experience all the more powerful as it brought home just how devastating the Battle for Verdun was.

Skyschool BBQ in Verdun
two men with woman and puppy

After several more flights in near-perfect conditions around Verdun we relocated to Epernay, the home of Champagne, where we couldn’t resist treating ourselves to a Champagne breakfast! The final day of the trip culminated in a fantastic flight around Epernay taking in the famous hillsides festooned with vineyards. What a trip it had turned out to be, all organised in less than 48 hours, with 7 flyable days out of 7! The key with paramotoring is to remain not only patient but also flexible and thankfully by doing so we managed to improvise around the weather and pull off a great trip that will remain in the memory of everyone involved for many years to come.

vineyard tour
Two men flying paramotors

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