Day Two 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 second day of the Race:
Day two's weather brief suggested it might be best to sleep in under some shelter - and the sensible teams did as such.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the unsupported teams were prepping their gear for a 7:07am departure (the permitted maximum of 30 minutes before sunrise.) They overnighted in Darby, Montana with plans to make Salmon, Idaho by 9am. Only 63 miles straight-line-distance, over pretty much the gnarliest pass you could choose along this year's route. Ambitious.
Weather Tom advised a winter storm warning, forecasting 3" of snowfall at 6000' elevations, and 6" at 8k. Jagged mountains and tree-covered valleys were all that stood in their way for a comfy breakfast. And the snow, hail, sleet, rain, fog, freezing temps; yeah pretty much everything particularly unfavorable.
First off the ground was Byron. Flying adventure class, he had the option to take a departure out of the Traveller's Rest Cabins and RV park - a mere 20' from his doorstep the night before. Plush. A highly technical takeoff, Byron threaded the needle between western pines and sleepy caravans as the motor noise from his Scout/Moster 185+ combo roared to life and resonated throughout the valley.
Miroslav and Dave had to pack their kits about 1/2km back to the field in which they landed. They were ready to go at 7:07, and made a valiant first attempt at launch. I wish I could tell you they fought the good fight and won. But The Icarus Trophy is no fairy tale world.
Between the typical A.M. katabatic flow (downward wind of the mountains) mixing, and a takeoff elevation of nearly 4000' - launching with 15kg of extra kit isn't easy.
Both pilots struggled to takeoff, then waited for the right moment and departed within moments of each other. Watch Miro's take off under a dramatic sky:
At this point - Miroslav is in the lead.
Dave had a fantastically marginal takeoff, clearing a fence by 1' while flying between two pine trees with 1' clearance on either side. We'll reserve posting the video for now to protect the viewers who are faint of heart.
Meanwhile, Byron was well ahead of the pack - and made it all the way to the county airport south of Salmon, Idaho where he reports that he is now "3 for 3 on faceplate-landings." Now we know why he wears the shin guards. Everywhere.
All three pilots were cruising at speeds from 45-60mph over the pass, indicating rather strong tailwinds which we feel would be a godsend over the jagged expanse of the Bitterroot National Forest. Dave overtook Miro in time to land at a convenient football field in Salmon. After watching Dave land, Miro decided to take the extra three miles to rendezvous with Byron at Lemhi County airport. That move, though he may not have realised it, put Miro in the lead.
Not for long, as Dave managed to squeeze in another flight and caught up. That means at the close of Day 2, the race is a dead-heat. Whilst Miroslav and Byron decided to visit a local hot-spring, Dave gave his legs a rest at the FBO while he plotted his moves to overtake Miroslav on day 3.
It really is anybody's race at any time in the Icarus. The wrong combination of weather and bad luck could have you stranded by weather standing naked in a hot spring while your competitors have clear skies in the next valley over.