It's day 8. A day of mixed weather in the field, but the pilots who made it out early had an excellent time. Some even found a sweet spot for crossing the pass, although it temporarily cost them all feeling in their fingers.
For the first time, we declared an official race hold in the central valley for most of the afternoon because of the increased risk of thermal activity. For those who got up early however, there was still plenty of flying to be had.
For The Adventurist's founder Mr Tom it was a cracking day. Launching from Weed airport just after 8am, he took on the Mt Shasta pass: the first in a five flight day. Despite the probably pretty nice scenery, his main recollection was of the temperature.
It was cold. I was at 8000ft, freezing my balls off. About 12 minutes after take off I realised I really needed a piss - I was at least 2 hours away from the nearest landing point. I was sat there, wondering if it would be warmer or cooler just to piss down my trousers. I decided colder so I didn't.
Hans Sprecher had a quite an eventful day. He also successfully crossed the pass and on the way setting the record for the highest flight in the Icarus so far: 11400ft. Not satisfied with the morning, by the afternoon he managed to mangled his machine. The story as he tells it: "I tried to take off in a reverse, in wind that was way way too light for it, so I did a really nice way out face plant and snapped the spar." Uh oh. True to form, he seems pretty cheerful about it though and has already made a trip to Walmart to stock up on up on duct tape and super glue to sort it out tomorrow.
Despite an eventful day, he reports he is having an excellent time overall. He's even managed to stop off at his parents' place in Bend en route: "It was very nice of the Adventurists to plan the race near my childhood home. I got to drop in and say hi." Sure, we can take credit for that. Hans, you're bloody welcome.
His fellow Mongol Rally Veteran Don McLester has a different take on the logistics of in flight navigation. This is the guy doing the Icarus with an entourage of two: a driver and a chef. We think his analysis is better than marmite on cheddar, so we've reproduced it in full:
"As the old dude on this gig, the whole navigation thing has been a problem. I have an iphone, but I can never see the damn thing. It's strapped to my leg, and it falls down, so I have to rock back and forward in the seat to get it back. I finally get it, but to navigate I need to use my hand so I start spinning in circles and the sun's shining in my eyes and I can't zoom out because I forgot to make a hole in my gloves for my thumb and I can't get out my reading glasses so all I can see is the little blue airplane. That's me, I'm the blue airplane. Even with the landing in the quarry and being attacked by bees, it's been a blast"
Classic observational comedy: everyone recognises the agony of a ineffective smartphone pinch. But Don has raised the stakes on us by relocating that to a spinning flying machine, several thousand feet up with no reading glasses. Throwing in bees and a quarry? Brilliant.
Byron has also had an excellent day. First he managed to catch up with Ed and Harry using only the tracker and vague WhatsApp directions received while aloft. Then he managed to hoodwink his fellow pilots into believing their beloved 'parasails' had been stolen and posted on Craigslist.
Cruel perhaps. But hilarious. Byron, we salute you. Both for your prank and your bravery in pulling a stunt like that just before so many of our adventure pilots arrive at Blackhawk Paramotor Ranch. Three days to think up ways to get you back. We hope you are ready. Also, we don't. This could be fun.
Meanwhile, our HQ has returned to Blackhawk Paramotor Ranch to prepare for the arrival of the next batch of adventure pilots.