The pilots of the Icarus Trophy are a special breed, backed up by an equally special breed of crew.
Paramotoring is a fantastically eccentric sport. The equipment is delicate and can be temperamental plus it usually bespoke for every pilot based on their preferences, experience, skill level and the type of flying they use it for. Most pilots fly recreationally around a looped route, when the conditions are suitable, in pursuit of fun and a great view. Usually they know their local airspace and landmarks without having to concentrate all that hard.
So naturally the Adventurists upped the ante and invented a behemoth cross-country race covering half a continent. We simultaneously aimed to include the elite of the existing sport and a whole new group of grown-by-us adventure pilots ready to counter inexperience with a massive pair of balls and some common sense.
Assembling a crew who can arbitrate between the highly competitive race pilots, whilst tracking and advising the less experienced or more leisurely adventure division all whilst documenting the whole glorious mess for posterity, is central to the success of this adventure. By George we think we nailed it.
Meet the team on the ground (and in the air) on this year's Icarus Trophy:
Race Committee and Course Designer
Shane's the flying brains of the outfit. He has been involved in the Icarus Trophy since its early gestation and he's crucial to its design. He sets the course, and test flies it, looking for that balance between jaw-dropping and pant-browning. He briefs the pilots on their preparations and tests their skills and degree of preparation before the launch. During the race he is the noisier half of the race committee in the rolling HQ; tracking pilots, looking for airspace infringements, pilots getting up to mischief or taking insane risks. HQ has a line of communication with every pilot throughout the adventure; if Shane thinks you should sit that weather front out, you should probably listen. He's currently gestating another adventure in the form of a micro-human, and eating for two.
Hours flying - 2000
Race Committee and Event Manager
Katy is the ground-dwelling brains of the outfit. She ties together the logistics so that people turn up in roughly the right place, in the right order, with the right stuff. During the race she is the broadcasting tower providing live Race commentary and acting as the good or bad cop of the Race Committee with Shane. Who takes which role changes, depends on how much coffee was had that day. She's claims she's rubbish at flying, but she is quite good at race directing and bulk-ordering the Bombay Mix for the finish party.
Hours flying - almost 2.
Trevor is a sensational private pilot and the proud partner of 1950 Cessna 170, quite the most glamorous machine on the Icarus Trophy. As well as flying around our camera crew, he is an accomplished paramotor pilot himself and a fantastic pair of eyes on the course for weather and strategy risk factors. He dotwatches just for fun, too.
Hours flying - countless
The same meteorologist and paraglider pilot from last year’s event will write the forecasts for this event. We won’t tell you his name because you will blame him publicly on Facebook when you decide to fly into hailstorms and 40mph valley winds no matter how stern the evening warnings are (and also because he forecasts for the government in his real job). But he has an M.S. in Meteorology, hosts lectures for local PG clubs and his insights are published in some sport specific books and other publications. None of the stuff he puts out is 100% accurate but some of it will be useful…. and there will be nice graphics.
Hours flying - That would be telling
Filming HQ and tandem pilot
Kester is one of the UK's best paramotor pilots. He's also a general legend who has helped the Adventurists set up multiple adventures, including the Monkey Run and the Icarus X series. He's a demon mechanic, too. On this edition he is our flying cameraman, skilled enough to get in amongst the Trophy pilots...and then wield a gimbal...and then commentate in dulcet tones. He can even wield our film-maker Rich in a tandem rig. When on the ground he is a brilliant resource for the adventure division pilots. He inspects equipment, discusses flight plans and relays pilot stories. Every household should have a Kester.
Tracker Tim - Tracking analyst
Tracker Tim is held up in a bunker in California throughout the Icarus Trophy. He analyses where everyone is, how high, how fast, and cross references that data with what our pilot's planned flights and what Weather Tom has said is happening in the skies. He can spot a problem or a potential incident before it's an actual incident. Flying into a storm?Landed after 30 minutes when you planned to fly for 90? Tom's the all-seeing eye looking for the reality behind the tracking data. Having Tracker Tim lead the dot watch allows all the other crews to be on the move, on the field, in and out of cell reception, eating or sleeping, or flying. If you like to dot-watch, you like Tracker Tim.
Rich has worked with the Adventurists for many a year, producing trailers for our adventures, including the one that probably made you want to do this here Icarus Trophy, as well as full-length documentaries and the original Mongol Rally series on Nat Geo. He can survive on foods recovered from the footwell of a Landcruiser and camp in -30 or +40, all in the name of his art. He is quite protective of his hair but then, wouldn't you be? Just look at it.
Canyon Hansen - Spares truck and gopher
Canyon is our man in Polson, Montana. He has been paramotoring under Shane's tutelage for over a year. He has wrangled airports, international shipping, start line infrastructure and salty snacks for the event crew with great aplomb.
During the Icarus Trophy he will be the spares truck for the adventure class pilots, and a fix-it/fetch-it/find-it back-stop resource for the rest of the crew. If we think someone has landed rather....inelegantly....we'll send Canyon to eyeball them.
Nick Clyde-Smith - Film crew gopher and teasmaid
Nick is one of those irritating polymaths. He can troubleshoot the tech equipment, he can track the pilots, he can fly, he can man the RV, he can commentate expertly on the finer points of paramotoring, and he can double his stake at the casino just by sitting down and looking earnestly at the slot machine. On this edition of the Icarus Trophy he is responsible for the camera crew's survival and smooth operation. Mainly making Rich's eggs and laying out Kester's wing.