Fly­ing on a wing and

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Free Time -

If you can run, you can do this. I am sprint­ing across a grass airstrip on the out­skirts of Bos­ton, Lin­colnshire. Clipped di­rectly be­hind me and push­ing me along is my pi­lot, Alis­tair Arun­dell, who, with the wing in­flated above us and a whirring pro­pel­ler on his back, has us air­borne in a few strides on a tan­dem paramo­tor.

I run out of grass as we climb sky­wards. In a wave of eu­pho­ria, I re­alise I am fly­ing… just like that. I shuf­fle into a small seat and cross my dan­gling legs as we climb into the wind above a road and a canal be­fore mak­ing a wide sweep­ing turn over the air­field. The world’s first paramo­tor was flown in 1980 in Es­sex by Mike Byrne, who be­came a com­mer­cial he­li­copter pi­lot. In a nut­shell, you are fly­ing a paraglid­ing wing with ex­tra thrust from an en­gine, which en­ables you to take off from places like the Fens rather than hav­ing to drive miles to launch from a hill­side.

With views to Skeg­ness and the Wash 15 miles to the east, we are over Bos­ton at around 1,500ft. The Stump – the town’s fa­mous parish church tower – is di­rectly be­low when Alis­tair guides my hands to two line con­trols, which turn the wing to the left and to the right when you pull down on them. Re­gain­ing the con­trols, he makes a tight turn and we head back to­wards the start point of my fab­u­lous 25-minute joyride. With the air­field in sight, he throt­tles back, and the two-stroke en­gine – which costs just £3 an hour in fuel – stut­ters to a halt so that we can hear each other.

The en­gine was de­signed for a wacker plate, which is used for com­pact­ing sur­faces. “It’s noisy and breaks down reg­u­larly. It’s home-built and un­cer­ti­fied so, ba­si­cally, we’re fly­ing on a wing and a prayer. If it conked out or even fell off we’d do what we’re do­ing now… glide down,” he says.

The wing’s cel­lu­lar pan­els are open at the front and closed at the back to form a halo of com­press­ing air, mak­ing it highly sta­ble. It and the en­gine also fit into a ruck­sack, so Alis­tair even takes it on hol­i­days. “When we’ve been away in in Cyprus, France and Madeira, my wife will be still in bed while I will be fly­ing up and down the beach,” he says.

Alis­tair is a fre­quent flyer. “I’ve been do­ing it for seven years and have taught oth­ers,” he says. He has the lease on the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.