Paramotor pilot Oisín Creagh landed safely just south of Madrid yesterday after safely navigating the Pyrenees between France and Spain with his back-mounted 200cc engine and parachute-like wing on what was one of the most challenging parts of his epic 3,000km adventure.
“It was the first time I flew at an altitude of over two kilometres above sea level, and I maintained that for over an hour,” he said last night.
“We’ve been making really good progress throughout the journey — flying about 200km a day — and we are on schedule to make the final flight at the weekend, depending on the weather.”
When he makes that final crossing over the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco, he will become the first person ever to fly from Ireland to Africa using a paramotor. It will also become one of the longest paramotor expeditions ever staged.
Mr Creagh said he was delighted to have completed the Pyrenees leg without incident. But he said the soaring temperatures of up to 38C in recent days have produced strong thermals which have buffeted him on some of the flights.
“It’s been really uncomfortable and tough going at times, with the thermals throwing me around a bit,” he said.
“We’ve decided now to just confine the flights to early morning. We set off at first light, around 6am, and we can get five hours of flying done, doing an average of 45km an hour, before the weather and winds close in.”
Mr Creagh, an architect based in Cork, took on the paramotor challenge to raise funds and awareness for Irish-based international development organisation, Gorta-Self Help Africa — a charity which is working in drought-stricken Ethiopia where crop failures have ravaged the food supplies of 20m people this year.
He set off from Northern Ireland late last month and has flown through Scotland, along England’s eastern seaboard to Dover, from where he flew unsupported across the English Channel to Calais.
His ground support, John Drew, returns to Ireland tomorrow and will be replaced by Glandore-based paramotor pilot Mel Bendon.
Mr Creagh is one of a handful of paramotoring enthusiasts in Ireland and one of the country’s most experienced paramotor pilots.