Pikes Peak; First Descent by Paramotor
Posted on March 28, 2012 in Glenn Tupper
Lately, every time I see an iconic landmark I want to conquer it by flying over it. This thought process was no different for the iconic Pikes Peak which every day the entire population of Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA wake up and look at on their way to work.
It really is a unique mountain, standing alone and towering at an altitude 14,115 feet (4,302 m); this would be no easy task. The winds at the top are general ferocious with only a few days out of the year having calm enough winds to even think about launching a paraglider off the summit, let alone a powered paraglider. With my luck with weather lately I knew the wind would be fine on this particular Saturday morning, March 24th 2012, my first full day of being 28 years old. And sure enough, the winds were fine at altitude, coming at a steady 10mph from the Northeast but reports of gusting as high as 25mph in Colorado Springs were something to worry about. It was time to fly though, after releasing some balloons to see the wind pattern and asking the park ranger if he cared about my launching off the summit, “I just won’t watch” was his reply, it was time to launch. Jerry Kerr, a local paramotor pilot assisted me in the planning and launch, at the edge he cleared the spectators and gave me a thumbs up, I throttled up and went for it, launching from the highest altitudes I have ever even flown. The sight was spectacular; I could see most of the state of Colorado. At that altitude and not being acclimated I was feeling a bit dizzy before launch but as soon as that adrenaline started pumping when I took my first step towards the edge the feeling of overwhelming excitement engulfed my blood stream in the place of oxygen. The wing and motor that I chose to use was the Parajet Volution Custom Thor 100 and the Paramania Fusion 26. A perfect combination for what I was trying to do, reliability of the Parajet and the solidity of the Fusion. The terrain was inhospitable at that altitude and should I have experienced an engine out I would have been climbing out of a tree and spending the night while I attempted to hike out. This was the first time ever in history that a paramotor had launched off the summit, doing something that no one has ever done before. When I finally reached the bottom landing at a high school football field in Manitou Springs at an elevation of 6000 feet, looking back up at that giant mountain, I shouted for joy and really couldn’t believe what I had just done. Was it crazy? Maybe a little…
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