Two reservists with a passion for paramotoring aim to be the first people ever to paramotor around the UK. From 1st to 30th August, the Paramotor Team will fly the coastline of the UK, covering approximately 3,140 miles.
Sqn Ldr Tim Taylor is the Officer Commanding 2623 Sqn at RAF Honington in Suffolk, and he is a Full Time Reservist. Flt Lt Mike O’Hara is the Deputy Sqn Commander of 2503 Sqn based at RAF Waddington. Mike is a Part Time Reservist and flies a Microlight for the Flying For Freedom charity that assists disabled veterans in his spare time. The two reservists are joined by Flt Lt Andy Whisker, Officer Commanding of the Service Police Crime Bureau in Hampshire.
The duo are attempting this Paramotor Challenge as part of a regimental initiative to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund and the RAF Centurion Fund during the RAF Regiment 80 and RAF Armoured Car Companies 100 anniversary year.
AOC 2 Gp Air Vice-Marshal Suraya Marshall said: “This challenge will test the skill, knowledge and endurance of these aviators. This epitomises the RAF’s spirit of innovation challenging the ‘Higher, Faster, Further’ boundaries of aviation. I wish the team luck in their endeavour around the coastline of the UK.”
The Paramotor pilots are hoping to raise £10,000 through the Paramotor Challenge.
“We will be vulnerable to poor weather, and strong winds and wind direction have serious effects on our performance, both positive and negative,” says Sqn Ldr Tim Taylor. This is a novel Adventure Training activity that is based on the extra-curricular hobbies of the pilots. So far, the team have raised over £5,000 through their Paramotor Challenge JustGiving page.
How dangerous is this and how does the pilots’ RAF Reserves training help them keep calm if something goes wrong?
“Paramotoring is a very safe form of flying,” Tim explains, “it teaches you to be logical and analytical an emergency situation and we always carry a reserve parachute. But the Reserves teaches you to think clearly even in situations of serious physical and mental stress. It also emphasises ruthless planning as an essential tool to minimise any risks. We have had a an extensive training exercise programme including water entry drills, navigation and communications.”
Will the pilots have cameras on board; say if they happen to fly over some air cadets waving at them?
“Yes, pilots routinely fly using ‘electronic flight decks’ on their mobile phone so they can capture both stills and video. All pilots also routinely carry GoPros to capture video. We have to maintain minimum heights but yes, if we see people waving we wave back and, if we can identify cadets (air or otherwise) we’ll try to take a photo or video. “
2623 Sqn are recruiting for both RAF Police and RAF Regiment Gunners.
Anyone interested in joining the RAF Reserves squadron in RAF Honington or RAF Waddington can find out if they’re eligible here: https://recruitment.raf.mod.uk/how-to-apply/eligibility-check
There are currently four RAF Reserves units in East Anglia. All of the RAF Reserve Units are eligible to apply for a RFCA Grant to support a range of activities and initiatives; more information about the RAF Reserves Unit Administration grant is available here.