Óisín Creagh, from the St Luke’s area of the city, expects to start his 3,000km trip next Wednesday on a craft powered by little more than a lawnmower engine.
Yesterday, he concluded his preparation for the upcoming expedition when he undertook a day of safety and rescue training, including a series of simulated crash landings on water, at the National Maritime College of Ireland at Ringnaskiddy, Co Cork.
The self-employed architect is aiming to become the first person to deploy a “paramotor” for a journey that will take him from Ireland through Wales, England, France, and Spain before getting to North Africa.
He’s embarking on the month-long trip to raise funds and awareness of the work in Africa of Irish-based international development organisation Gorta-Self Help Africa and, to date, has collected near to €4,000 in sponsorship.
He expects to be travelling at an altitude of approximately 1,500ft for much of the journey, although over the Irish Sea, English Channel, and Straits of Gibraltar he will be higher.
He will also need to ascend to heights in excess of 6,000ft for his journey through the Pyrenees mountain range, which separates France from Spain.
“I will have a safety boat travelling with me when I cross water, just in case. Thankfully I’ve been flying these 10 years and never had an accident. It’s tried and tested,” said Oisín.
One of a handful of paramotor enthusiasts in Ireland, he regards his sport as “one of the simplest forms of powered aviation available to humankind”. His paramotor is a specific type of motorised unit fitted with a propeller blade that is mounted on his back on a rucksack-like frame.
Powered by a small two-stroke engine similar to the motor of a lawnmower, he should potentially be able to cover up to 150km-200km of his trip, per flight, travelling at up to 60km an hour.
The paraglider — known in paramotoring as a “wing” — is essentially a parachute, very similar to those used for paragliding, but with a motor.
Óisín is predicting that it will take him approximately a month to cover the distance, but says a huge amount of the expedition is dependent on getting the right weather conditions.
Óisín is hoping to raise thousands of euro to support the work of Gorta-Self Help Africa, which he describes as an organisation “making a real different to the lives of some of the very poorest and most disadvantaged people in the world”.
See www.flyafrica.ie for more.