We caught up with Alard to find out how he won the Icarus Trophy. And to see what advice he has for pilots looking to win in Brazil next year.
What's your day job?
I do rigging in the movie industry, stunt and camera rigging. Im not a stuntman, but i do all the behind the scenes rope and harness work.
How did you get into paramotoring?
I was kayaking in Madagascar with a friend of mine, and he mentioned that he flies Paramotor, he explained what it was and I was instantly interested. He gave me some training and I loved the idea, so I went and did a course with an instructor.
How long have you been flying?
On and off for 8 years. Sometimes I travel for long periods for work and then I have to catch up when I get home. I fly predominantly PPG, but also a bit of PG.
Why do you do it?
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE FLYING. The freedom to move in 3 Dimensional space really grabs me. The relative simplicity of a motor on your back and a wing and you can fly :-) I love taking my PPG to different parts of the country and exploring.
What's your favourite bit about it?
I love flying low and along rivers or streams, and following the curves of the stream.
How often do you find time to get out on your paramotor?
Generally once a week, sometimes less.
You flew the race extremely fast, and won by a long margin. But is there any part of you that feels you'd have liked to take it slower?
I loved the excitement of the race! But i would have liked to spend more time flying and playing at Kubu Island in the Pans, especially as it was full moon and an eclipse. During the race when I saw elephants I did make an effort to go down and fly past them and get a good look at them. The advantage of having a few days at Vic Falls ( whilst waiting for the other participants to arrive) was that we could explore the area and fly along the Zambezi. One of those flights along the Zambezi river I saw elephant, hyena, giraffe, buffalo, wildebeest, hippo, crocodiles, vultures and various other antelope species.
What was your strategy to ensure you'd win?
Winning was a bonus. My main mission was to have fun and try to be efficient with landings/takeoffs. I tried always to land where I could get fuel and be able to take off again. I would fly high to try and avoid most of the thermals. As I have had my motor for a few years I was fairly confident in it, and as I had a tracker and survival kit I did take some straight line flights over quite remote terrain to save on time and fuel.
Best experience on the Icarus Trophy 2018?
On the flight from Elephant Sands to Panda Matenga, I flew low over a large herd of elephant drinking at a water hole, that was amazing.
Scariest moment was when Sebastian and I were working on his motor on the road in northern Zimbabwe and two lions crossed the road 50m away. We were scared, but managed to wave down an overland truck and caught a lift to safety.
I loved the flight along the pans in Botswana, and the flight along the Zambezi River. The cherry on top was being able to fly over the Vic Falls. What a magnificent part of the world!!!
Worst experience on the Icarus Trophy 2018?
Sitting at the border between Botswana and Zimbabwe for 10 hours waiting for paperwork to be finalised. Sebastian arrived after the about 4 hours so it was great swapping stories and getting to know each other.
Advice to future Icarus Trophy race class pilots?
Ace the takeoffs with heavy loads and no wind.
Worst conditions you flew in? How you coped?
Some of the mid day thermals were not great so I tried to fly high where possible. In Northern Botswana there were airspace limitations, so we had stay below 5500ft so some of the flights were bumpy.
Will you be back to conquer the Icarus in Brazil?
I'd like to, but lets see what the future holds. Brazil sounds like a great county to fly PPG in. Looking forward to seeing the proposed start and finish.