I Won…But What About Those Spares!

Early on in the race, Rosa Earp made a post on the official Icarus Trophy website about the in’s and outs of Adventure Class Verse Race Class. 

This is a copy of her post


Here’s Icarus Event Manager and Race Committee Member Katy who explains with Pizza.

Byron, an Adventure Division pilot, is travelling as fast as Dave and Miro, the Race Division pilots. He cannot ‘beat’ the Race Division winner as he is accepting outside support. So far this support has consisted of letting the mobile HQ make him a cup of tea or launching straight from his overnight lodgings instead of backtracking 500m to his landing zone. Marginal stuff perhaps, but it all adds up and this is why we have two trophies – one for the un-supported Race Division and one for the supported Adventure Division.

Here’s how this works.

Race Division cannot accept any outside assistance that would not be ‘open access’. They can hitchhike and buy stuff or they can accept fortuitous offers of assistance or gifts. The key bit is they cannot have dedicated support. Either from the Icarus Crew, or the support crews and friends of the Adventure Division pilots (who can have as much support as they want.) The one exception to this rule is their fellow Pilots – Icarus pilots can accept help from other pilots, regardless of their division.

Here’s an example. All of these statements are true:

Race Division Pilot Dave can buy himself a pizza. He’s race class, so self-supported.
Adventure Division Pilot Byron can buy Dave a pizza. That’s pilot to pilot assistance and therefore kosher.
Icarus Race Chief Shane can buy Byron a pizza. Adventure Division Pilots can accept help (and pizza).
Byron can give away some of his pizza (from Shane to Dave). That comes under the umbrella of ‘pilot to pilot assistance.’

Dave cannot accept a bite of any pizza from Shane. Nor can he accept Shane’s leftovers, if Shane offers them. Dave can, if he wished, rootle through the trash and steal the leftovers of Shane or Byron’s pizza because once it’s in the trash, it’s ‘open access’ as long as he can get to the pizza before the rats and freegans.

Race vs Adventure Division decisions are taken by the Race Committee. That’s Katy Willings and Shane Denherder and Icarus crew Kester Haynes, Icarus founder Tom Morgan and The Adventurists MD Dan Wedgwood.

In the case of Miro’s torn wing, Race Division pilots are allowed to give the mobile HQ a set of spares, which they can access during the race, as long as they travel to the van (the van can’t travel to them) and then return to the landing zone to complete the whole course. No-one has ever called the Race Division easy.

Day 7 – Icarus Trophy

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

After spending the night in Fredonia, I get a lift back to the field I landed in by the lovely couple I stayed with. There was a good 7-8kts on the ground which to my relief was sort of in my favour. It was cross tail wind run to the finish some 140km away. I took off, and the wind got stronger and more turbulent. It was ok but not pleasant.

I stayed tracking on towards goal, realizing I would have to climb above the big mountains to avoid the turbulence down wind. It took some time, but I climbed to about 8500feet and continued along, slowly and surely it became a lot smoother as the winds became lighter high up climbed.

About 30km out I spot a plane at my 4oclock, and I’m trying to work out if it was Trevor or not. As it was getting closer, it was clear it was him (I breathe a sigh of relief), Trevor is flying the spotter plane, and taking epic photos that would not have been possible without him.

With Trevor by my side, I fly over the last lot of massive mountains at +11,000ft. Amazed at what I’ve just experienced, I cruised down to the airfield on the other side to the finish line and landing between the cones. I’m chuffed with the result; it was such a relief to have finally completed one of the most epic journeys I have ever done.

It has been a pleasure sharing my experience with everyone along the way.

I want to thank everyone for all the words of encouragement along the way, special thanks to my lovely wife Johanna for helping me achieve this and hold the fort while Iv been away. I can’t wait to get home to my wife and kids.

Photo credit: Trevor Meeks https://www.instagram.com/meeksdigital/

Day 6 – Icarus Trophy

Why is it taking so long?

I woke up to the sound of leave rustling in the wind. It was music to my ears! Tailwind and slow takeoff run! Life is good.

After sweet talking one of the guys at breakfast to run my gear down the road to where I landed, I make an easy launch and off towards monument valley.

I had to make one stop to get there. So I landed where Byron stayed the night and went to the gas station to fuel up. I get there and there is no fuel!

The computers were down – BUGGER!! Before I realised there was no fuel, I had just put oil into both my motor and auxiliary tank. This posed a problem because I now needed to take the axillary tank to get fuel on foot. If I’d filled the auxiliary up with fuel (along with the oil id just put it) I would have been transferring it back into my motor that already had the oil in it. Essentially doubling up on the oil mix. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I had wanted to carry max fuel, but I was on the home stretch and wanted to minimise time and energy on the ground having to make two trips to the petrol station on foot, or worse, having to carry my motor on my back the entire way there.

I run back into the servo and grab a drink bottle, have a swig and tip out the remains, pour in the fuel oil mix from the auxiliary and take off running down the road in search of fuel with my 5ltr can.

With a few litres of the good stuff, I’m ready to go again. After running back, I poured it into my motor, and now I have just under a full standard tank to get me to Monument Valley. I’m confident this will last, it’s only a nice 140km flight.

With fuel sorted, I set up out the back of the gas station and launch right beside power lines on a narrow track. A solid committed run and I’m off. Hot on Byron’s heels.

In my haste to get back in the air, I forgot to zip up my pocket with my sunnies in it and they go soon go overboard and thru my prop!! Thankfully, there is no damage to the prop (I can’t believe it), and I’m able to keep going.

I’ve been flying at full stick for 3/4 of the leg when I soon realize I can’t keep up this speed and make it to the Monument Valley turn point. I back off and slow right down to drop the rpm so I can conserve fuel and make the last 40km with 2 litres of fuel in cross head wind conditions.

I knew it was going to be super tight on 2 litres at this point. I was contemplating diverting to an alternate airfield to refuel, but that would mean one more stop which i wasn’t keen on. I gamble and decided to push on with the last 30kms, it was then I remembered I had the drink bottle with some fuel and oil mix, but I knew it had way too much oil in it to use it on its own, so if I was going to use it, I had to get it in the tank quick sticks so would mix with the other fuel.

With some difficulty, I manage to get my bag around in front of me and get the bottle full of fuel mix out. I take the hose from my auxiliary tank and extract the fuel from the bottle into my tank without spilling fuel all over me in the process.

The job was done, but I’m not out of the woods yet, I still have 30km to go in a moderate cross wind. I’m trimmed slow and milking any thermal lift I find, even taking few turns in one to gain altitude.

There was some serious relief when I made Monument Valley. There hadn’t been any nice landing options (roads, paddocks etc) so the fact I made it with half a litre to spare was pretty miraculous. Landing never felt so good.

I refuel from a few nice guys flying at the airstrip and attempted to launch. I’ll be honest, it was my worst launch ever!

I was so tired my arms were all over the place, I’d used up most of my runway sorting the glider out when I promptly ran out of runway and stopped abruptly, falling on my knees, thankfully not hurt (other than my pride). While I was okay, my gear wasn’t. I suffered some damage to my machine when my throttle got bitten by the prop, my netting also took a hit and one blade had a chunk taken out of it.

One of the guys there kindly fixed my prop, while I fixed my throttle and netting. In terms of damaging my gear, I was super lucky with the timing, Shane from the Adventurists happened to be on that very airstrip and I was able to grab my spare parts.

I finished off the prop and I was back in action. This time, I timed the cycles better on my launch, while I psyched myself up to get a good run up. I was off and flying, taking off with a density altitude of over 6000ft

Things are looking bright, I’m flying with a good tail wind run towards to finish line. I made another 200km before retiring for the day in a small town to refuel and get some shut eye.

Landing in small towns has its own adventure, at this particular little town I’m warned by a lady I run into in the street, that the local hotel I’m intending on staying at is run by a crazy cat woman and home to some interesting meth heads. I must look like a vulnerable Aussie in the middle on nowhere, so she gets the all clear from her husband and kindly offers me a bed (less the cats and meth). I load up my gear into the back of her truck and she takes me back to her place. I’m met by her husband and his gun. Its all a joke..but I wonder if the cats and meth may have been a better option! No, really, they were great.

Over dinner they offer to cordon off the road in the morning for me for take off – where were the accommodating yanks when I needed them at every other sketchy take off… oh i know.. behind their phones filming me very ungracefully launch hoping for a faceplant… ahhh social media!

I sleep well, I’m excited. Tomorrow marks my last leg. Bitter sweet really, I’ve loved the race, but its been hard, I’m pretty exhausted.  I’m looking forward to catching up with the other guys and flying with good company. Plus they look like they have been having a ball, sleeping in cozy motor homes, getting pissed… and im dodging meth addicts and cat ladies.

Stay tuned!

See my…ummm…not so shit hot launch here

Day 5 – Icarus Trophy

Off to a terrible start today the wind at ground level was different to glider hight when I was trying to launch and failed a coupe times then changed direction and had to lug my gear to the other end to launch was exhausting.
Finally I managed to launch and make some progress down towards Spanish fork some 140km down course.
Getting there was a little challenging navigating around the airspace around Salt Lake City which meant I had to hug the massive range on the eastern side of the city and stay below 10,500feet
The mountains are 9-10k plus so I was up around 9,500 feet and rather cold! It was stunning scenery with the salt flats to the west and rising up into these massive mountains with a dog filled valley on the eastern side. I went to turn my go pro on to get some footage and as I was fumbling for the button with my gloves on I pushed the camera of my helmet!!! Noooo! I had owned it for less than a week and it’s gone! I had some choice words for a bit then got my trusty phone out to get some evidence 🙂
When I arrived I came across some wind turbines and a katabatic air flow from the pass which was up wind of where I was planning to stop! Those turbines really mess the air up behind them so I quickly googled gas stations and found another close by that would work well.
I made it in with about 2 Ltrs of fuel left.
Once on the ground I notice there was a message to call Shane and Katy and they wanted to see my track log.
There was a fine line to escape the congested area when I launched this morning and it looked like I few over houses, I few over fields one my way out but as the tracker only records every 5 min it looks different. Then looking back at my track log my phone died just after take off so I could prove otherwise so I was penalized 6hrs no fly from when I landed.
Well that put the handbrake on. I rested up and had to replay my next stop with only just over 2 hrs of daylight left to fly I had to use every minute to make up for lost time.
I planned to head further south than previously planned and take a full load of fuel so I could fly at full speed and make some ground up.
I was help with a little tail wind which gave me speed of over 100kmph so I flew on to the next town where I could see there was accom for the night.
I landed with 10min to spare and made my way to the gas station which was also the accom and they do food! It was perfect! I got there just before closing!
I managed just under 300km today and with 6-700 km to the finish it’s going to be a massive day tomorrow or it will be 2 days to the finish with favorable weather.
Stay tuned for more updates, I can’t believe it taking so long! It doesn’t look that far on the map!


Day 4 – Icarus Trophy

Yes we are still racing! Just slowly.
I started the day with a taxi ride scouting around to find a suitable launch site to the north of Pocatello.
I found and old industrial site next to a rail line which worked out well with the wind direction.
I have to brake the motor down to fit in the taxi so the first thing to do was assemble the motor and set up still in the dark. The head torch was magic, thanks to my lovely wife for putting that in my kit.
It took me some time to muster up the strength to attempt a launch as it was very light. I decided not to take extra fuel on this leg as I couldn’t bear to take the extra weight in light winds.
I had a good run down to tremontan which was about 140km in just over 2 hrs
I fueled up and had lunch then had to sort out a new oil container after my bag fell off the table last night and spilt oil all over the floor and in my bag! Nice red oil lucking it was timber floor! I moped it up with lots and lots of paper and left that for the cleaner to wonder what happened. It looked like a murder scene!
Anyway I emptied a coupe of water bottles and used those which worked a treat.
It’s now about mid day and there is plenty of sun on the ground and lots of moisture after the rain the previous few days which meant it was getting rather sporting like in the ski.
By the time I took off and made my way south what had started as nice cumulus clouds has developed into some serious angry chew you up and turn your wing inside out Cumulus Nimbus.
747 don’t mess with these things and I’m sure as hell not going anywhere near one in my tiny little bit of nylon, string and butt fan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I made it to the next scheduled stop which was only another 15km so I could get there safely then landed in a nice big field with a nice little old lady who was kind enough to let me use the field as long as I needed.
I went and refueled anticipating the storm to pass.
I was sitting in the servo assuring route options when I noticed a gap in the weather but by the time I got sorted there was another even bigger storm approaching from the west which would stopped me there with nowhere to land. Oh yeah and if j did get off the ground I’d have to out run the gust front from the other storm close by to the north of us!
Time to call it a day.
I had a snooze in the field and waited to see if it was worth back tracking to where Byron landed but the wind was a bit strong and being head wind to get there I decided to stay put.
Off down the road to find a motel and ran a stupidly hot bath! Oh it was so good I was sweating. My legs loved it.
Checked airspace and weather for tomorrow and plan to launch at sunrise and get past Salt Lake City early before it looks like a nuclear bomb has gone off on it like today.
All going to plan I should make good distance tomorrow. But the ever stop is also getting higher. It will be up around 5500ft I can’t wait for that one! O the plus side it should be starting to get warmer!



Day 3 – Icarus Trophy

Toughest air race on the planet!
We have experienced just about everything Mother Nature can throw at us, and there is so much more to come.
We started at sunrise this morning from Salmon air field. To push on towards the boarder of Utah.
I decided to take the more direct but longer route to the next fuel stop where Byron and Miro opted to take the route more to the west which was a shorter hop for more fuel.
Getting airborne with all my gear and at 4K feet and really cold is stupidly hard! I ran a 1/4 mile for sure! I am using a higher pitch prop for this race which means less static thrust but lower RPM at cruising speed making the 230 even more efficient.
Once airborne I made my way down the valley towards my next scheduled stop at Mud Lake.
About 30min into the flight it was clear it wasn’t going to a walk in the park! The valley floor was rising the further south leading up to the pass and the cloud was very low, what started out as a few drops of rain turned to sleet then snow very quickly!
I can tell you the sunnies got put on quick smart after the first piece of sleet went into my eye! That sure wakes you up.
I wasn’t sure if I could get through the pass as visibility was getting low and it was hard to tell where the snow stopped and the cloud started.
I pushed on and the weather was easing in my favour and I could follow the road.
The other concern I had was carb Icing, having never flown in this sort of weather I wasn’t sure. I made sure I followed the road most of the way through the the pass just in case but my machine ran perfectly.
It was a nice relief to fly out of the valley and into the flat lands. It was lien escaping from a giant ice breathing dragon. It was warmer and much more friendly terrain.
I made it to Mud Lake not problem and landed behind a gas station in the wettest field ever.
I found out they flooded the one I landed in yesterday. It was sticky as anything and let’s just say it wasn’t the most graceful landing I have done. Mud everywhere!                                                                                                                                                                      I fueled up and got chatting to the locals who thought it was the best thing ever. The have me a ride to a drier field so I could takeoff.
I waited for a slight breeze to ease the pain of running and got away first time. I headed south again and about 15min into the flight I was arranging my instruments and realized I had not tracker! Just a bit of string it was attached to!
I couldn’t believe it! Did it fall off during launching was it in flight? How the hell am I going to find it?!
I couldn’t continue without it so I Turned back and sent Shane a message asking for the coordinates and told him I dropped it so he wasn’t having a heart attack watching my tracker stop dead!
I then looked at the live tracking page and j could see it was still where I launched so I flew back and spotted it form the air and landed next to it. I couldn’t believe my luck.
I landed fully loaded with fuel this time which made it very fast on landing and there was no wind.
I was so buggered I spent some time adjusting my brake lines waiting for the wind to kick in like forecast. Sure enough it did and I could launch easily.
Next stop was Black foot. I was hoping to make this one on the first day but the weather had other plans.
I landed in yet another soaked field and waddled over the road to the fuel stop.
I couldn’t launch out of where I landed as it was too wet so a couple of nice guys used thier trucks and blocked and area of the car park for me to launch from. By this time the local papers were there checking everything out and there was a massive crowd gatherings airing in anticipation of this crazy guy and his flying machine.
I launch out of there with Boss status and on towards Pocatello.
I the wind was increasing the further I went south and getting. More turbulent which forced me to land just north of Pocatello.
I found a motel went to get a new pair of sunnies from Walmart as I dropped mine while launching somehow.
I must look pretty shady as a dude standing on the side of the road trying to hitch hike runs up to me and asks if I’m selling weed! Must be the green jacket, I don’t know!
Mexican for dinner and fueled up ready for the morning.
Fingers crossed the wind is favorable to pass by Salt Lake City tomorrow or Scotty will be hot on my tail.

My first fuel stop in day 3.Not quite to plan but it worked out in the end.

Posted by High Adventure Paragliding on Tuesday, October 4, 2016