Paramotoring is becoming the hottest Summer Adventure Sport

Ash Bhardwaj, a travel writer with The Daily Telegraph, has written an article on the 14th August 2021, on his experience Paramotoring with SkySchool UK. This is what he wrote.

"Ash Bhardwaj gets to grips with the art of paramotoring – and gains a dramatic new view of Normand

A paramotorist is a paraglider with an engine and propeller strapped to their back. They look like a participant in a Birdman Rally, ready to jump from a pier in their homemade contraption.

“It’s actually the safest form of motorised flying,” said Alex Ledger, the founder and managing director of SkySchool, which runs courses for beginners.

“You can take off from any flat piece of land,” he continued, “as long as you have permission from the landowner. And you don’t need a licence, because the sport is self-regulated.”

I decided to do some training in Normandy, France, after completing an online theory course that was reassuringly thorough, covering everything from aviation regulations and meteorology to route-planning and the theory of flight.

Ready to put theory into practice, after an introduction to the kit, my first lesson began. I attached a wing to my harness and ran forwards, so that the wing inflated behind me. It rose above my head, and stayed in that position as I continued my run, before it suddenly plunged to the left. I yanked the control toggles and tried to turn under it, but I was too late, and it crumpled to the ground.

Ash Paramotoring across the sky with SkySchool

“You don’t want that happening in the sky,” said Alex, “so you have to learn to control the wing down here, until you can feel it intuitively. The only way to learn is through repetition and practice.”

Over the next few days, I became more familiar with the equipment, and softer with the controls, until I could (mostly) keep the wing above my head. If I ran with enough speed, the wing pulled upwards through the harness, and the odd gust of wind resulted in thrilling bounds, as if I were walking on the moon.

Between wing sessions, I learnt to control the engine throttle, and the final lesson involved being towed by two people, via a rope clipped to my waist. This got me in the air, so that I could practise take-offs and landings, until I was ready for my first flight. I set myself up as normal and began to run, feeling the familiar backward tug as the wing inflated.

“Let go of the risers and keep moving forwards,” Alex said over the radio, “steady the wing overhead and increase the throttle. Taxi forward. Good! Now, power, power, power!”

I squeezed on the throttle and felt a push against my back. I ran to keep up, as the wing lifted upwards, and my footfall became lighter, until my legs were pedalling through the air like a cartoon. The horizon swung away from me, and my vision was filled with sky.

“Now, keep the power steady, gain altitude and settle down. Gentle on the steering and enjoy the view.”

I eased back on the throttle and my ascent levelled off, until I could see more of the flat Normandy landscape. A thin line of cypress trees, backlit by the setting sun, was shrinking as I climbed. I took a deep breath and looked down. My feet were dangling in the air, 600ft above stubble fields and hay bales. I was flying. I did two circuits of a rectangular route, then cut the engine to glide down and land. There were whoops and applause from the others, and a stupid grin on my face. I flew twice more the following day, amazed at being in the air with just a harness, a wing and a lawnmower engine.

My final morning involved a “cross-country” flight, with total freedom and responsibility for my route. I took off from a field next to the Longues-sur-Mer gun battery, then gained height until I could see the whole of the D-Day landing zone, stretching from horizon to horizon.

I flew over the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches, then up to Omaha Beach. As I descended for my return leg, a park of green and white resolved into a cemetery, marking the final resting place of thousands of young Americans who had fought for the peace we have inherited.

As I touched down at Longues-sur-Mer, I felt quite overwhelmed. The paramotor had given me a thrilling experience, but also a new perspective: it was the first time that I had truly understood the vast scale of the Allied invasion of Normandy. And what it had cost."

Visit Ash Bhardwaj's full article in The Daily Telegraph.

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