“Paramotor flying is one of the best ways to really ‘live’ while being alive.”
It can take as little as one week to learn the fine art of powered paragliding or paramotor flying, as it’s known in most countries. According to Kristianna May, a champion paramotorist, this is the most portable, accessible and affordable form of aviation and it’s surprisingly easy to learn. “If you have a sensible head on your shoulders and adequate physical strength, anyone between the ages of 10 and 90 can do it,” says Kristianna. Other useful traits include hand-eye coordination, motor skills, flexibility, balance and patience.
A passionate traveller, Kristianna has lived in 25 countries and has done every type of job, including teaching English in South Korea, hosting bus tours in Atlantic Canada, training sled dogs in Alaska, making olive oil in Tuscany and launching an award-winning winery in Mexico. She also speaks four languages, writes and illustrates books, fire dances,sings and plays the guitar/piano/ukulele. As if this isn’t enough, Kristianna took on paramotoring just over two years ago and since then she’s gone on to win 1st place in the Adventure Division of the Icarus X Series and 2nd place in the World Microlight Paramotor Championships, placing her 24th overall in the world. As one of the only female competitors in the sport, Kristianna tells Women4Adventure what a day in the life of a paramotor pilot is like.
Since a young age, Kristianna had a strong urge that she wanted to fly. She used to fly frequently between Canada and Florida to visit her grandparents and sit with her face glued to the window. “I’d stare at the clouds, wondering what they felt like on skin. I desperately wanted to touch them,” says Kristianna. “By the time I was in my 20s, I wanted to fly so badly that I left my job, my partner and my money and made an announcement on Facebook that I was selling everything I owned. I took a wad of cash with me and flew to a school to start training, before I had even seen a paramotor in the sky. I didn’t care what it would take and nothing will ever replace the feeling of gratification the first time I actually touched a cloud with my face, hands and feet – I cried like a baby,” she says. Since that fateful day, Kristianna has made it her mission to spread the word and to show people that it’s possible to fly in a short time with limited resources.
Plan your Flight
Flying requires careful planning. You have to calculate your fuel consumption and distance, study the sky and weather reports, plan for wind direction changes (these can make a big difference on long-distance flights), study your maps and familiarize yourself with your chosen area. You also have to prepare your body and mind. Remember to dress warmly, drink water before departure, go to the bathroom, stretch and do some breathing exercises on the day.
Check your Gear
Before and after takeoff, go through all your equipment without distraction. Make sure everything is strapped on, filled up and functional.Walk around the motor, touch everything and say it out loud. Everything should always be done in the same order.
Wait Your Turn
Wait for the marshals to wave the green flag – this signifies that you’re free to take off. You often have a limited window, so move as quickly as possible.
Follow the Rules
When competing, it’s vital that you follow the rules. Your every move is supervised. The judges are checking that you receive no assistance or tips from others, that you’re not getting extra time to study or memorize anything and that you don’t have any hidden notes. You’re also not allowed to add weight to your gear, as this can make you go faster. You must navigate your way around the sky with nothing more than a paper map and compass, which means that the race mostly happens in your head.
Enjoy the Ride
Flight distances can vary greatly, but a typical competition may entail a few hundred kilometres covered over the course of a weekend. “Many of my pilot friends have crossed entire countries on a paramotor and some have crossed the English Channel to raise money for various charities and programs,” explains Kristianna.
The more you fly the better and, if at all possible, fly multiple times a day. Unpredictable weather can unfortunately mean that you have to wait for weeks in between flights. Take opportunities when they come your way.
Go Para-camping with other pilots
This is a great way to network with other enthusiasts. A camping trip entails flying for an hour or so in one direction, landing somewhere together, camping out and flying back the next morning.
Flying is not only a personal passion and lifelong dream for Kristianna, but a way of showing people what we are capable of as women. “I love inspiring women to follow their hearts,” says Kristianna. As a public figure, Kristianna has also become a role model for children.
All photos submitted by Kristianna May & New Chapter Marketing.
Learn to fly in the UK at these registered schools: www.bhpa.co.uk/schools/