Icarus Trophy Race Course Map & Guidance Notes

This here map and info is the course map for the Trophy. It might get updated but we will let you know if that happens. 

This planning reference is just that, a reference. It is in no way an all­inclusive route or plan. You need to be diligent about planning, using all available data. Aeronautical charts, google maps, google earth, topographic maps and other sources should be used to devise your route and race flight plan. You are the only one responsible for your safety, and the ability to navigate the course legally.

We strongly suggest using the following online resources for planning your route and familiarising yourself with the race course:

http://skyvector.com
http://vfrmap.com
http://airnav.com

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) polices and sets policy to the air laws governing the USA. While PPG does fall into the ultralight category, it does have some regulations that apply to it; and your knowledge of them is required to take part in the Icarus Trophy. See specifically FAR Part 103. For a complete listing of regulations, visit:

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/faa_regulations/

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR’s) are regulations and restrictions which can change at any time. An example would be, if the President of the USA were visiting Sacramento, CA. You would only know that there is a giant no­fly area for 30 nautical miles in the area if you checked TFRs that day. If you did not know, and flew through it, a squadron of F­16’s might come greet you asking nicely to land ­ so they can take you to jail. Do not fly without checking TFR’s. For a complete listing, visit:

http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html

Notices To Airmen (NOTAMS) are localised notices affecting safety of flight, and must be checked daily. For current NOTAM listings, visit:

https://pilotweb.nas.faa.gov/PilotWeb/ 

Intermediate terrain

GREEN

This is terrain which an intermediate pilot taking all precautions is reasonably assured a safe landing area should he/she be forced to make an emergency landing. This will depend greatly on atmospheric conditions, and should not be considered as “easy” terrain.

Advanced / Expert terrain

ORANGE

This is terrain which will undoubtedly demand expert pilot skills to execute a safe emergency landing. Atmospheric conditions will significantly influence the degree of usability or difficulty.

Higher cruise altitudes are suggested for more options in the event of an emergency. Consider staying high enough for positive “glide out” capability to Intermediate terrain.

Dangerous Terrain

(including unsurveyed terrain)

RED

This is terrain which an emergency would undoubtedly result in a crash of some sort, or terrain that has not been surveyed but presents danger based on topographical and other information about the area. Atmospheric conditions will significantly influence the degree of usability or difficulty.

Extremely high cruise altitudes with positive “glide out” capability are strongly recommended while crossing these areas.

All built ­up areas are not only illegal to fly over, but they are considered dangerous terrain, even if not depicted. Pilots must do their own surveying/planning to avoid overflight of built ­up areas.

All bodies of water and wetlands are considered dangerous terrain, regardless of depiction.

Restrictions Apply Terrain

YELLOW

This is defined as terrain where a non­standard restriction exists ­ e.g. Indian Reservation.

Restricted areas (airspace, wilderness) that are depicted on aeronautical charts will NOT be depicted on this planning reference.

Included in the route data files to be issued will be a .kml database of all National Parks, which all carry their own individual restrictions (best to avoid altogether).

Unauthorised Use Terrain

BLACK

This is terrain that defines the race course borders, and may not be entered. Any pilots who enter unauthorised use terrain will likely be disqualified. Check out race rules when they’re issued for clarification on this. 

Airport Overlay

BLUE POINTERS

Course Narrative

  • Launches in the scenic foothills of Mt. Rainier near the small town of Eatonville, Washington.
  • Race down the I-5 corridor into Western Oregon braving the enormous evergreen trees and historically soggy weather of the Pacific Northwest

  • Circumnavigate Portland’s complex airspace system and built-up metropolis

  • Face the difficult decision of when and how to proceed crossing the Cascade Mountain range into Central Oregon (jagged mountains, tall trees, and very few landing options await fliers on pretty much every possible route here)

  • Cross the high desert of Central Oregon will provide a dry, warmer climate conducive to flying longer distances - headwinds are likely throughout the route from this point on

  • The Klamath Falls area in Southern Oregon presents a large lake and busy airspace system to navigate as a last challenge

  • Northern California

  • Radical mountain weather flows again as they cross back over the Cascade range into the windy valley below 14,179 foot-tall Mt. Shasta

  • Continue south and cross the rugged terrain of the Shasta-Trinity national forest into the northern part of the Sacramento/Central Valley

  • The Central Valley will be a relatively smooth-sailing 150 miles - a very good chance of encountering a seasonal weather phenomena known as the Santa Ana winds

  • Circumnavigate Sacramento’s airspace while dashing to the finish line just outside a small town against the Sierra Nevada foothills known as Valley Springs

  • Nestled in the heart of Gold Country sits the Blackhawk Paramotor Ranch

The Icarus Trophy is a test of skill and tenacity for paramotor pilots from all over the world.  Racing through the three western states of the USA, the Icarus Trophy launches in the scenic foothills of Mt. Rainier near the small town of Eatonville, Washington.

From there, you will brave enormous evergreen trees and historically soggy weather of the Pacific Northwest while racing down the I-5 corridor into Western Oregon. Circumnavigating Portland’s complex airspace system and built-up metropolis, you will face the difficult decision of when and how to proceed crossing the Cascade Mountain range into Central Oregon. Jagged mountains, tall trees, and very few landing options await you on pretty much every possible route through the Cascades.

The high desert of Central Oregon will provide a dry, warmer climate conducive to flying longer distances - but headwinds are likely throughout the route from this point on. Central Oregon is characteristically friendly to fly, but not without it’s hazards. Tall mountains and wide valleys can make windy days extremely turbulent, while tall trees and lava flows make landing off-airport difficult. Few airports exist with access to fuel, meaning you will likely be forced to land and search for fuel at service stations.

The Klamath Falls area in Southern Oregon presents a large lake and busy airspace system to navigate as a last challenge before crossing the border into Northern California. Shortly thereafter, you will have to contend with radical mountain weather flows again as they cross back over the Cascade range into the windy valley below 14,179 foot-tall Mt. Shasta.

As a final test of will and flying skills, you will continue south and cross the rugged terrain of the Shasta-Trinity national forest into the northern part of the Sacramento/Central Valley.

The Central Valley will be a relatively smooth-sailing 150 miles for pilots as you fly past rural farm fields and small towns making your way toward Sacramento. As you try to make mileage in the flats of Northern California (and even Central Oregon), there’s a very good chance of encountering a seasonal weather phenomena known as the Santa Ana winds which happen in the fall. Warm, dry downslope winds originate from southern California east of the Sierra mountain range and blow offshore at speeds up to 40mph. Due to the topography of the Central Valley, winds are redirected by the coastal mountain ranges and vectored north; turning the entire Central Valley into a veritable wind tunnel for days at a time in some cases.

While the weather allows, you will circumnavigate Sacramento’s airspace while dashing to the finish line just outside a small town against the Sierra Nevada foothills known as Valley Springs.  Nestled in the heart of Gold Country sits the Blackhawk Paramotor Ranch - a small, unassuming airstrip that is purpose-built for powered paragliding and features the perfect mix of excellent weather and beautiful terrain.  

At the finish line, you will be greeted by a large paramotor fly-in event that happens annually at the Blackhawk Ranch. 

The Impossible West Coast Route

Question:  Why can’t we fly the coast?

Answer:  There were several factors involved in the decision to restrict the coastline as passage for the Icarus Trophy.  

There are several ways to legally navigate the west coast safely but

  • coastal property owners, lawmakers, towns, and conservation societies are very sensitive to what activities pass as “acceptable” on the Pacific coast.  

While America is “land of the free,” several coastal towns in WA, OR, and CA have hard-to-find ordinances with intent that specifically aim at keeping unlicensed aircraft (ultralights) away from the beaches.  Here’s a few tidbits of info as an example of how many factors go into the decision to not allow the coastal route:

  • October is the “foggy season” on the coastal areas that would cover the Icarus route.  To remain competitive you would be forced to fly low ceilings and visibility a lot of the time - which would lead to rule-breaking and dangerous decisions, only allowing low-level flight.

  • Every single offshore rock in the state of Oregon is a “bird sanctuary” and by definition a no-fly area.

  • The entire Oregon Coast is officially Highway 1 - you are not allowed to take off and land, and FAR 103 would loosely prohibit you flying over it (it’s a highway).

  • Nearly every substantial town on the west coast has surface-based airspace and approach gates that will be utilized by commercial and instrument traffic.  If you were to circumnavigate every single one on the inland side, you have lost your advantage of staying coastal.

  • Northern California’s beaches are, in some cases, sheer rock cliffs leading into dense forest.  The only landable terrain in many areas are illegal marijuana farms deep in the coastal wilderness.  If you were to have an engine-out, you would have to charm your way out of a drug dealer’s land.

It would take an incredible amount of planning to make sure you didn’t piss every town off - now multiply that times 45 pilots doing it (everyone has thought of this plan, or will) and we start to see what negative impact the Icarus Trophy could have on the sport of paramotoring in the USA.  

Every single property owner/state beach ranger/town/coastal airport would rather not have us (a bunch of unlicensed pilots flying unregulated aircraft) in their locale - and they will do everything in their power to make sure you pay for doing it if you irritate them.  These are the people who complain.  It comes down to intent, and if they don’t want us doing it, we’re not going to back it as an organization.

Inland Route

We basically have the same problem along the inland route, but

  • there are thousands of different paths our pilots could take in the prescribed course vs. every single person flying the exact same vector over the beach.

Aside from the legal, safety, and social issues that coastal route would propose; this is the world’s toughest air race.  If every single boob went down the coast, they would

  • all fly at the exact same times, and

  • the only variable would be the speed of your particular kit.  

In that case, we may as well just cancel the adventure race and organise a group fly-in down the coast, dubbing whomever is in the front the “winner.”