By James Borges
Day1: Urban Raptor – We had a taste of what is to come over the 2800km and it tasted good!
It was fun walking our Italian themed Parajet Maverik’s and a Raptor through Pisa, I’m not sure the crowds there have seen a Paramotor before.
Secondo giorno finito, con grande soddisfazione, 2 voli e visita al centro di Pisa. Siamo stati assaliti dai turisti giapponesi che ci hanno fotografato assieme con parenti amici e pure nonni…. Funny day!
Another couple of flights flown yesterday and we made it to the coast which was a welcome sign as flying over some of the mountains was getting bumpy and a quick stop in Pisa to see the tower, all in all a great day for the expedition
Day2 took us through the ever changing landscape of this beautiful country. It was a day of two halves starting with a trip to Pisa that deserves its own post, ending with a stunning flight along the coast. It was a long walk even with the super light Parajet Maverik on our backs in Italian summer midday heat but totally worth it. The ‘Square of Miracles’ and the Leaning Tower of Pisa was a special experience enjoyed by all that is unlikely to be repeated with 4 Custom ‘Italian Theamed’ paramotors and Raptor again!
Day3: The danger of thunder storms, lightening and monstrously large cumulonimbus clouds forced us to fly locally but the Raptors flew and flew well. SAT’s, Wingovers and Smoking were the order of the day! No complaints from us 🙂
Day4: Turns out not everything in Italy is beautiful like fly-tipping, my ugly mug and the weather. The whole of the country has crazy storms, a bridge we drove over Sunday collapsed killing 39! We woke very early to catch the sunrise flight and made a second flight before rain and high winds stopped play. May be grounded for a while. For a lot of us it was the first tornado we have seen with our eyes!
Day5: Beauty restored! With the threat of rain we had another very early start so we could beat the weather to complete an XC that took us from the mountains back to the coast. We had a bit of everything thrown at us today with a nil wind take-off, beautiful low lying clouds, silky smooth air and then a rock’n roll washing machine scary bit that’s more effective at sharpening the mind than the delicious Italian coffee. We timed it perfectly, as soon as we were all down the heavens opened up. The hospitality of everyone we have met has blown our minds. The owner of the field we landed at rushed to give us coffee and snacks and yesterday we were given wine, everyone has welcomed us with open arms. It’s easy to love Italy!
Day6: The team split into three pairs to take on a tricky mountain crossing choosing different routes with varying degrees of success and comfort! It started from the nicest grass runway airfield any of us have every visited over Roman remains, mountains and then along the coast before flying back in-land to a wonderful minty smelling landing spot! A field of wild Mint! Hiking out of the bowl we landed in was hard work! The weather here in Italy is still causing us issues but we still have managed to progress and fly everyday. After a great days flying we treated ourselves to some beach action, sadly too many other people had the same idea so couldn’t use the Mako board this time. Team Spirit is as High as the Mountains we’ve been Soaring!
Day7: Waking up early on the beach meant we had the place to ourselves, the flat sea and lack of people meant it was time to Mako! Amazing Fun! By the time the tank was empty the beach had started to fill up and it was time to fly. Again due to weather we were forced to fly locally, so we practiced Acro and monitored the weather before pushing on to the next point. Flying down the beach with perfectly smooth onshore breeze was a reminder of how good the sport of Paramotoring can be. Got to be one of the best day of the trip so far.
Day8: Another majestic flight down the coast in perfect conditions! Landed in a field next to the beach, after a very short walk we were enjoying an ice cold #corona with sand under our feet. We have eaten many pizzas since being in Italy but today’s on the beach was one of the best so far ‘Happy Days’ – This is Living! Due to it being Italian Summer there are more stringent rules about flying down the beach and taking off and landing is totally forbidden. This made it quite difficult to find somewhere to take off as a team…. Unfortunately by the time a suitable site was located there was almost no time to fly not alone make an XC. We have learnt from our mistake and taken advantage of a more relaxed evening with delicious sea food and plenty of wine. Sleeping on the beach again with fingers crossed for some morning Mako action!
Day9: Not all beaches are calm and tranquil places to put your head down, a symphony of noises ranging from drunk fighting, fast and furious wannabes and just general craziness meant we all woke very very early or just didn’t sleep at all. Drinking our bodyweight in wine the night before was maybe a mistake! Although super tired, and a little hungover conditions were perfect for Mako, and Mako we did 🙂 If only everyday started this way!
To complicate our trip it turns out there are a lots of heavy air traffic restrictions in Italy and some cover vast areas which means we had to do a leg in vehicles. No problems in life only Opportunities. We took the chance to visit Matera and do some touristy stuff! Maybe this more relaxing/ down day was just what our tired bodies and minds needed. It’s believed that Matera was inhabited by the Romans in 111BC or the Ancient Greeks sometime later but either way, we all enjoyed this very old and interesting town complete with a complex of cave dwellings. Well worth a visit! Tomorrow back to flying!
Day10: We lost a key member of our team today due to a family emergency, we wish Lionel and his father health and best wishes. You will be missed! Till the next adventure my friend!
Flying for a lot of us has become our life but family is what grounds us and gives it purpose. We are all thinking of you mate!
We also need to Thank our ground crew who tirelessly have filled fuel cans mixed oil, bought, prepared and cooked food and driven around with our spares and generally been at our beck and call. To all of the Flight of the Raptors support crew and everyone that has helped us on our way…. Thank You!!!
The weather again is getting in the way of our best intentions to proceed. With ever increasing wind strength and the inability to penetrate forwards due to being pinned we turned back early into our XC. It was a good piloting decision. “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you’re in the air, than in the air wishing you were on the ground”
Having taken off with a full bottle of smoke I was keen to use it all up before landing (because it’s fun) this caught the attention of the police who thought that I was in trouble or that the machine was going to explode. They were very friendly and after they left, they doubled back to get a photo with Jason Taylor and myself.
As with previous days the wind mercifully dropped in the evening and we got to fly again. The scenery is breathtaking, the photos just don’t do it justice! #needabettercamera
#reflexwings #flykandy #vittorazi #parajet #eprop #itecnicidelcolore#puntomusicabagnolo #nvolo #makoboardsports
Day11: Another very early start which in this part of Italy means wet grass and no wind. Not an easy take off but we all got away. The reason for the early start was to get some distance covered before the headwind built up to much, we were doing really well but had to land 6 miles before our goal due to being pinned. We had a typically Italian style long lunch and snooze before getting back in the air. The afternoon/ evening flight was the best of all of them so far! Amazing!! Silky smooth air and the wind was with us for a change. Made great progress and really pushed the light, landing seconds within legal limits. I’ve been told that men can’t multi-task but here is evidence of me flying my Raptor, navigating, controlling my paramotor, checking airspace etc and watching #AmericanDad whilst having the time of my life!
San Marino where we landed is stunning! Can’t wait till the morning so we can explore more of it!
This is the Flight of the Raptors, and today we took a few more photos of this incredible bird in flight!
Day12: Sticking with the theme of early starts the alarm went off at 05:00 but… we all slept in! This was a mistake as by the time we were in the air it was just past 7 and the wind was already up and so was the sun so we didn’t have that special sunrise flight, or the XC we planned. It was however an amazing local flight as San Marino is just unbelievably beautiful! We can’t promise to do better tomorrow morning as it’s Elisa’s birthday and a Jeroboam of Prosecco will be opened to celebrate her special day!
We got to walk around San Marino centre and it’s another ancient town well worth a visit, unusually as beautiful on the ground as it is from the air.
In the evening we made it to another airfield where we flew locally again. The inflight movie for today was #wearetherovers a great watch if you get the opportunity! It’s always fun to FaceTime friends & family whilst flying and the silky smooth air and beautiful sunset made this easy and fun! Another personal highlight!
The 3ltr bottle of Prosecco was drunk and enjoyed by all but especially Elisa who quoted “Best Birthday Ever!”
Day13: The night before took its toll on all of us so we had an easy morning knowing we were going to be flying around lake Como in the afternoon. We have all made the mistake of underdressing at some point on this trip, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of warmness on the ground only to find minutes into a 2hr flight that it’s actually very cold. Today was my turn and at 4000ft over @GeorgeClooneys house I wasn’t thinking about whether @PrinceHarry and @MeganMarkle were looking up, I was thinking why am I not wearing the trousers in my harness or the jumper in my flight deck! It was beautiful, even with the poor visibility and through clattering teeth!
This trip I’ve been exclusively flying the #Raptor but today I flew @Lionels #Revo3 as @angelomaggioni was keen to fly it and who am I to say no to our host. I have to say that the Revo3 performed amazingly, it launched nicely and was solid in the rotor of the mountains surrounding #lakecomo it even handles advanced manoeuvres well! Great all round wing. I think we have a new fan of the Raptor and I’m definitely a fan of the Revo3. Cheers for a great tour of your local area Angelo!
Finishing the day with bottomless pizza and Litre Jugs of Beer was just perfect! 🙂
We all went to bed blissfully unaware of the thunder storm that awaited us this night. An amazing light show and torrential downfall dominated the hours we planned to sleep. Tomorrow is another day!
Day14: Another hangover, another early start. We are getting good at these 🙂
Today is the last day of #FlightoftheRaptors and by the time we all surface it’s the most thermic day of all. A technical take off and switching winds make for a nervous start to our last XC. We all take off fine but the radio messages are clear, it’s going to be a bottom clenching ride! We have to clear the mountains to get to the open planes of Cavour and it sharpens the mind with all that lift about! Sadly for Jason he had a £2 part fail (exhaust bracket) which led to secondary failures and a land out. Matteo and myself pushed on #topgear style and left him happy in the knowledge he was OK but (temporarily) stranded. Most fuel efficient flight so far using only 3ltrs an hour!! This is maybe not representative of a realistic fuel economy but what we used today! Genuinely enjoyed the rock’n’roll ride with the Raptor handling the thermals like the evolved #PowerGlider it is! Slightly sad that the trip is over, but… No injuries, No real problems and Everyone gets to go home with good memories and an enviable tan! Tonight the celebrations and the plans for the next adventure begin 🙂