Day Seven of the Icarus Trophy as seen through the eyes of Shane, Icarus Trophy Race Chief. He's the course setter and a pro-paramotorist, with 2000+ hours of flying under his belt. Here's his expert take on the pilots progress on Friday and Saturday:
It's day 7 and it looks like the first pilot may cross the finish line today. We've got an outstanding forecast in the whole region for clear skies and tailwinds for all the pilots.
David Wainwright is currently racing for the gold, he overnighted near Kanab, UT and thinks he can finish the last 90 miles in one morning flight. Still a lot to navigate, including wild southern Utah back country, the congested desert town of St. George, and the Virgin River gorge - a thermic, windy pass that transitions from the corners of Utah and Arizona into Nevada. Scary!
Noteworthy accomplishment of yesterday - smashed two incredibly long flights, as well as a prop tip and throttle controller on his paramotor. Ouch! 280 miles flown.
Byron and Miroslav rendezvoused in Monument Valley yesterday. The team has a history here, as in 2014 they both took a flying trip here to the “holy grail” of PPG sites. Now they are back, they are taking the time to rest up and enjoy some scenery. This is also the site of the famous “Gathering at Monument Valley,” a paramotor fly-in event. They were greeted by pilots from all over the US upon arrival, and have been enjoying the company ever since. It’s also rumoured that Byron made a short local flight out to a Navajo medicine man yesterday afternoon. Byron and Miro are intending to spend day 7 hanging out with other pilots and doing some tourist activities:
Noteworthy accomplishment of day 6 - both pilots, taking different routes, discovered new parts of the country few people have ever seen. 96 miles flown for Byron, and Miroslav played down 170 in total for day 6.
Trey, Dean, and James flew from Morgan County to Heber city Utah yesterday. This is the famed 'Midway' decision point that separates the race vs. adventure division routes. They picked secret option number three and decided to move out west to another famous PPG flying spot, the Bonneville Salt Flats. “Camp Icarus” as they’ve been dubbed, was set up late last night in the center of the eerie desert salt flats. They plan to do some local flying today then drive their gear out to Price, UT in hopes of getting a taste of the race division checkpoint in southern Utah. Dean had a significant life event - inspired by the words of a Montana rancher he met earlier in the race, he got himself a brand. On his backside. We couldn’t be more proud and a little disappointed that he couldn't persuade James and Trey to follow his example.
James, Trey, and Dean flew about 50 miles before packing it up and deviating to the Salt Flats for the remainder of the day.
Meanwhile, up north, Scotty was once again dealt the short straw on weather forecast for day 6. Let's recap: he had a bit of engine trouble on day 1, and had to wait for parts to do a top-end rebuild. He’s been scratching and clawing his way to catch up but he just hasn’t been able to escape a series of storms that have been freezing out and pounding the northern parts of the course. Late in the day, after seeing the forecast, Scotty decided to call it, and he's hitched a lift to join the rest in Utah. This does mean that he is no longer competing in the race division - which is a bummer. But Scotty has made a great choice to join the rest of the pilots down where the weather is fair and have a great adventure.
We at HQ couldn't be happier. As much as the Icarus Trophy is an extremely competitive air race, it exists on two levels. The experience is just as great, if not better if you have yourself a proper adventure with new friends in a new land.
Meanwhile, We’re patiently awaiting the arrival of any racers who will finish the Icarus Trophy here in Mesquite, NV. signing off for now.