‘We did it!’ – Elated Paramotorists land at RAF Halton
Two paramotorists, Flt Lt Giles Fowler, who holds the British record for paramotoring at 21,746 feet, and recently qualified paramotorist, Paul Mockford, have successfully flown over 40 former or current RAF airfields in two days.
The 263 mile navigation and endurance marathon started at the former RAF Goxhill in Humberside and finished at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, going over some of the busiest civilian and military airspace in the United Kingdom.
The take-off was last minute due to a weather window presenting to aid the flights.
The route took the team from Goxhill near Hull, down through Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Day one was planned to finish at Sywell Aerodrome near Northampton. Day two ended at RAF Halton Airfield.
Day 1 started a packed two days with the team prepositioning near the first departure airfield and checking over the paramotors and essential equipment needed for the journey. Leg 1 from RAF Goxhill, saw them fly over 9 Stations including Humberside Airport which meant that they were in the air for 6 hours over the first 3 legs. The second leg was from RAF Scampton to RAF Saltby and the third leg of the first day was from RAF Saltby to RAF Sywell where Day 1 ended.
Day 2 Leg 4, 5 and 6 saw them leave RAF Sywell and cover 18 Stations before touching down at RAF Halton. Throughout the long journey they were supported by two ground crew, Kate Pagett and Andy Greaves. Andy and Katie carried fuel, spares and supplies for the pilots. Andy is a keen paramotor pilot himself while Katie is currently going through training
Giles is a serving Logistics Officer in the RAF and a keen paramotorist. With 25 years flying experience, he’s the highest flying paramotor pilot in the UK and holds the British record of 21,746 ft. He also flew the longest non-stop flight in the UK of 300 miles from coast to coast.
Paul, however, is still in his first year as a paramotorist. After seeing a paramotor flight on YouTube he dived in head first and never looked back. His father, Derf, runs the RAF Association branch at RAF Halton.
They arrived back at RAF Halton and touched down at 1710, both were totally elated to have completed the challenge and Giles said: “After 5 months of planning, 6 flights, 44 RAF Stations, 265 plus miles in just over 10 hours, RAFA40 finally landed at RAF Halton having raised over £2150 for the RAF Association. The RAF Association is close to Paul’s and my heart as it helps serving, retired, or family members, basically those from every part of the RAF Family. Over the 2 days and 6 airfields that we had landed at, we met many pilots from all forms of aviation who were interested in the paramotors that we were flying and what we were doing. It was an amazing adventure that genuinely stretched both of our flying abilities. One of the highlights for me was being allowed to fly over RAF Cranwell where I graduated from my Officer training. The weather conditions were not ideal but were manageable and safe, however they still managed to test both myself and Paul with some very turbulent and thermic air; we both had to just ride out the conditions and press on to reach the next airfield.
“Flying through some of the busiest Military airspace in the UK, communication with air traffic control was essential and was the focus in the planning for the success of the event. The final leg from RAF Bicester to RAF Halton became a bit of a slog as it was all into wind but seeing the Halton airfield come into view was an elating sight. Both Paul and I landed tired but ecstatic, it was a personal journey for both us and the ground crew but ultimately, we have raised some money to help others in the RAF Family and that was the driving force to keep us pressing on. Having the Station Commander greet us was certainly unexpected but rounded off our endeavour before we packed away our machines and headed to the RAFA club for a well-earned drink.”
The team have raised over £2200 for the RAF Association, their main reason for the venture.
Aparamotoris a paraglider wing combined with an engine, which is attached to the pilot’s back. The motor (2 stroke or 4 stroke) provides enough power to make the take-off run just a few paces long. Theparamotorand paraglider are easily transportable, fitting into the back of a normal car.
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