Flying Paramotors for Fun
La Puebla de Los Infantes Sevilla, Andalucia, Spain
Saturday 31 January 2015
Arriving in La Puebla de Los Infantes about 9 am Spanish time, the first thing I wanted to do was grab a coffee and something to eat for breakfast. I needed to park on the edge of this small town because all the street parking spaces were occupied. After parking up I had to make a quick dash to the first cafe along the street to avoid being completely drenched by the heavy rain shower.
This was not looking very good for the Paramotor event I had come to see.
One of the first things I noticed as I ran along the pavement was the piles of wood along the main road and in some of the side streets and the tape across the roads barring entry to vehicles. What this was all about I had no idea. Drinking my coffee outside of the very busy cafe and sheltering from the rain under the canopy I wondered where the Paramotor event was located. The rain eased off, I finished my coffee, paid up and went for a walk around town. I took some photos of this bonfire which was decorated with 500 euro notes.
A few people were standing around chatting or just looking. I was offered a beer or a shot of something which looked like it was probably the local firewater or similar (like Medronho is to Monchique). Anyway I thanked the man but declined his kind offer explaining that I was driving.
The people in the cafe and this guy are all very friendly I thought.
A bit further along the street I asked a policeman who was standing outside the police station as to where I could find the Paramotor event. He was very friendly and helpful also. He said it was about 5 km away and it was better to take the car or wait for the bus which was put on especially for people who wanted to go.
The route was well signposted through the countryside which in this area is quite gentle and open. Lots of olive and orange trees and thankfully no eucalyptus plantations
Directed into the public parking space by an event official I sensed that I was quite early as there where only a few other cars. The parking for people taking part was quite full of Motor homes and camper vans. Some with trailers and I was catching my first glimpses of Paramotors, Paramotor wings and various equipment. Now I was starting to feel a bit of excitement and relief. I was here. Made it. Now lets get in that tent and out of the wind.
The first stand inside the tent was Adventure Wing Export. They had three paramotors on display, some wings in stuff sacks and backpacks and importantly for me some leaflets descibing their products and price listings. As I was stuffing the leaflets into my pocket one of the reps came over and introduced himself.
Pierre (I hope I remember your name correctly) talked with enthusiasm about paramotors, design. harness, hang points, the cage, weight, power and so on. We looked at the smallest one and he said I could try it on. It felt good. Not so heavy as I thought it might be and it felt very comfortable. The harness supported the weight nicely and walking around with it strapped on my back was easy. The fuel tank was empty which needs to be taken into account. A bit more chat then I thanked Pierre for his time and headed over to the bar for a coffee.
The stands were occupied in the following order-
Next was H&E Paramotores, Green Aerostation, The Bar, Paraglidershop.com, Niviuk, Paracell Electric Paramotors and last on the left was PAP.
On the other side coming back was
The Registration desk, Kasana, FlyProducts, Paramotores.es, Aire y vuelo, Nirvana, Aventura. Airfer and Toyota.
Most of the other stands were still unpacking boxes and setting up so there was not so much to look at just yet. Outside with my coffee I joined in with the others windsock watching. Something I am getting very good at. It's something that people who fly do. We do it very often. Sometimes for hours on end. Willing it to shift a bit to the left or move more to the right. Not bend the pole so much, bend it a bit more. Thing is you can't see the wind, only it's effects. So the effect of the wind on the windsock tells you one of two things: Take off and Don't take off. At the moment it was Don't take off. No matter how much willpower was used.
Anyone thinking about getting into any form of sport flying should know that sometimes you need an awful lot of patience and acceptance. Like fishing, surfing and many other hobbies.
It wasn't long before the organizers welcomed and thanked all the people for coming and the event was officially opened.
Still no flying going on so I looked around at some more of the stands.
PAP had a paramotor for sale with a price ticket of 3500 euros. A Moster 185 Plus.
Second hand with only 10 hours
Later on when I was going back to the car I saw a van with English number plates and a few blokes sitting around so I thought I would say hello. They were all very friendly and seemed to be very knowledgable and happy to talk about Paramotors.
This was a group of paramotor enthusiasts who had travelled from the UK to the south of Spain to take part in the event. One chap was Mike Chilvers who runs a Paramotor School called Ufly4fun Paramotor Club based in Lincolnshire and Norfolk. Mike is a paramotor instructor and an authorised dealer for the British built Bulldog Paramotor. You can also get a good deal on flying suits through Mikes website.
Mike has flown in competitions in the UK, France, Spain, Poland and China, collecting medals along the way.
I wish I had taken more notice of every ones names and remembered them like a good boy but I didn't, sorry. One of the blokes, a relative newbie to the sport obviously had a lot of respect for Mike and gave him plenty of praise. He was also very happy to talk about his Bulldog Paramotor and showed me how quickly the cage could be dismantled and put back together again. I was impressed. Clicking every thing into place was so quick and simple.
I also tried his machine on for size and to get the feel of it.
Now this was a bit different. The first one I tried on by Adventure felt not much different to getting into my paraglider harness. But this one had a full tank of fuel, had a much stronger Bulldog frame and a larger engine.
I liked the machine very much but I wouldn't be running away with it. Not far anyway. I would be using a smaller engine, possibly a smaller prop and therefore a smaller cage and then the whole thing becomes lighter and eaier to manage.
Thanks for all your tips and advice chaps I enjoyed talking with you and learnt a lot of things. And thanks for the mug of tea Mike and I hope to meet up with you all again somewhere sometime and soon.
So the day passed by, looking at the various machines, flying suits, electronic flying gadgets, helmets, windsock watching, drinking coffee with too much milk and not enough coffee and eating chourizo sannies with too much bread and not enough chourizo.
The conditions are not improving so off I go, back into town to eat a proper meal and see what is going on.
What's this? The town is on fire!
Everywhere are bonfires either burning fiercely or about to go up in smoke.
Bundles of 500 euro notes turn to ash,
ghoulish life size people dolls are burnt on the stake
This lady is going to be well and truly cremated long before her sardines are ready
Getting into town on Sunday morning the fires were still burning. A few people gathered around here and there. One lady in her dressing gown and slippers pokes a fire with a stick. I go Into the same cafe as yesterday for coffee and breakfast were I was welcomed like a friend and greeted by everyone. It's so nice here.
I feel the weather conditions are much improved so I head off back to the Paramotor venue fairly quick.
As I approach I can see all colors in the sky. Some of the pilots were having a good time. And it was great to watch. This guy was dressed in a banana suit. Not sure why
One pilot made several attempts at flying very low to hook a foot into a ring which sat on a post maybe only a few inches above the ground. Attached to the ring was a very long narrow windsock like tube which trailed behind him in a snaking fashion as he flew around the sky.
Another was releasing smoke trails into the sky. I spoke with him later and he showed me how the set up worked. On the Nirvana Stand were some bottles that I thought were for drinking from via a tube whilst flying. Like a camel back.
Actually they were the containers for the oil which created the smoke. The bottle is attached to the frame or harness somewhere suitable and the oil is pumped via a tube directly into the exhaust system near to the cylinder head where the exhaust gases are still hot. The oil is vaporised by the hot exhaust gas and creates the smoke effect. The pump is similar to a windscreen washer pump found on cars and fitted with an off switch. No one knew what the oil was but coconut massage oil was mentioned.
Ah but so brief. After 15 or 20 minutes one by one they came in to land. Some pilots said it was getting too bumpy.and were experiencing turbulence and collapses. Soon everyone was back down on the ground and the red flag was put out. The rest of the day was spent in the company of Mike and his friends and a few other new acquaintances, taking photos, chatting and so on.
More looking around the stands again, more coffee with too much milk and chourizo sannies.... To be fair, there were plenty of other things on the menu and other drinks. And the ladies waved, smiled and said hello when I entered the tent.
Overall I enjoyed the trip and it was well worth it for me. To meet and talk with paramotor pilots, learn more about paramotoring, design, functionality, safety issues and much more is a great and good thing to do.
Of all the stands that were there, only Adventure Wing Export had any sales literature related to their products. The two stands selling equipment and clothing carried a very small range of products which was dissapointing because I had a few items on my shopping list which they didn't have. So I left with very little bedtime reading and nothing to polish and shine, use,wear, hang up or talk about. I did get a nice new woolly hat from a shop in town.
The celebrations in town were interesting and it was nice to move around the town from one bonfire to the next, feeling the warmth of the fires and soaking up the friendly atmosphere.
The cafes and restaurants were very busy but managing to serve up meals and drinks inside twenty minutes which I thought was pretty good going.
I feel for all the people who traveled a long way and at some expense only for fifteen minutes or so in the air. But it was nice to meet Mike, his friends and many others including some guys from Foot Flight Paramotors in the UK
I hope the conditions were better on Monday for those that stayed around.
I definitely want to come back next year, not as a spectator, but as a participant.
To all the organizers (I am sorry I don't know your names), all the traders who brought Paramotors and equipment for us to look at, the catering staff , all the people who must have spent hours sowing and creating the dolls to burn on the fires, whoever donated all the wood for the bonfires and all the very friendly people I met, I say
Thank You Very Much.
P.S. it was nice to find the latest Cross Country Magazine issue 157 and Cross Country travel guide 2015 waiting in the letterbox on my return. So I had some bedtime reading after all!