Race Chief Shane Denherder is back with his analysis of Day 8 of the Icarus Trophy. The Race Division has been won - but there is plenty to report from the Adventure Division's antics. Here's his report:
After a stunning finish in Mesquite, NV at 9:22 local time - David Wainwright promptly hijacked the HQ van and drove it straight back to Monument Valley, UT to meet up with his mates. He was scary, and he smelled of onions - we didn’t protest.
He enjoyed a Monument Valley “fun flight” (without auxiliary fuel, clothes, equipment) at the crack of dawn on day 8 - then socialized with some of the pilots who have been following his epic Journey. David was met with lots of support and high fives from the American PPG community at Monument Valley. Well deserved, as this course was exceptionally hard to tackle and Dave ran it like the champion he is. Well done sir!
Team Biro of the Adventure Division spent the better part of Saturday doing the same - enjoying the scenery and enjoying some “easy” flying in the nation’s most coveted paramotor flying site. For Day 8, it was back to business. They suited up, grabbed their gear, and departed at 7:10am as the rest of the fly-in was just waking up. The morning desert air was a mix of non-threatening VIRGA and high cirrus clouds. As they continued their spirit quest flying westward, the skies opened up as they approached Rainbow Plateau. This proved to be the best scenery the pair had encountered thus far, and not for a lack of trying.
“The air was smooth the entire way and as we reached the Rainbow Plateau I was blown away by the beauty below! This by far was the prettiest leg of the entire trip! The earth below looked alien with reds, pinks and tans all mixed together like twisted taffy.” —Byron Leisek
After passing Rainbow Plateau, Team Biro was heading straight for Page, AZ - the gateway to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, and some fantastic barbecue. Yes, this detail is a big deal - thanks to Big John’s Texas BBQ.
After filling up at Big John’s, the pair continued their adventure into the unknown. A few miles west of Glen Canyon Dam and Navajo Bridges, the afternoon heat began to ramp up and demanding conditions awaited.
Byron and Miroslav reported this was their most challenging flight yet. The leg from Page, Arizona to Kanab, Utah was (as expected) thermic desert heat - but there were no breaks between thermals.
Byron was on a mission to land near an animal shelter that he had visited in years past, but with the conditions ramping up to 17mph headwinds and severe turbulence - they had to play it safe and head to the airport. Both were exhausted, and decided to rest for the rest of the day while waiting out weather. They stayed in the pilot’s lounge of the airport, as they made plans for their final 85 miles of the journey past St. George into Mesquite, NV.
Further north, Scotty Duncan has been adsorbed into the roving party dubbed Camp Icarus with Trey German, Dean Kelly and James Borges. Fresh off their trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats, the group decided to road move to Price, UT. They've decided to head to Monument Valley and follow the Race rather than the Adventure course.
Reaching Price, they departed from Buck Davis Field (‘merica) and continued on to Green River, Arches National Park, stopping off in Canyonlands airfield near Moab, UT. Scotty unfortunately tweaked a old knee injury with the landing, and he hitched a lift rather than attempt to fly again. He's heading to straight to Monument Valley to meet up with his friend and instructor David Wainwright.
Scotty has had some unfortunate luck in this race, but we continue to be inspired by his ability to keep on chugging along and his great attitude. Don’t worry Scotty, the best is still to come! We hear the plan is to get in some great local flights in Monument Valley, then continue on the adventure with the rest of the pilots.
We’ll continue to follow the teams all the way into the finish line in Mesquite, Nevada and give them the finish line celebration they deserve for this massive effort.