It's day 3. We spent the morning glued to the tracker, watching as Aussie Pilots Kristan Fischer and David Wainwright raced to the finish line.
Both began at first light and took two very different routes down past Sacramento to reach Blackhawk Paramotor Ranch. True to form, Fisch flew high over hilly terrain, a way that was more direct but with far fewer landing options in case of engine failure.
His gamble paid off and his was the first foot on the ground at Blackhawk. Flying in Adventure Class, Fisch has the gratification of being the pilot to arrive first, and David, arriving four minutes later, takes home the Race Class Trophy. His strategy of flying the longer, easier routes meant that at the finish line, David had clocked 200km more on his tracker. Both pilots have done bloody well.
Here's some stunning footage from our chase plane of David's final flight to the finish line.
They raced down the Icarus Course in a record setting three days. Now they've bossed it, our first Trophy Veterans are both getting straight back in the air. Fisch is killing the time between now and the finish line party skydiving nearby. Meanwhile Dave has another plan:
Much further north, the Adventure Class have been really getting into the swing of things.
Don's had "the most amazing flight of his life. This is why I did all this shit."
He's been collecting some cracking shots of his Icarus Trophy and he does look suitably chuffed to be flying. We particularly like that shot of the earth from the air: a blurry landscape, in bright sunlight, partially obscured by gear. Probably as accurate a rendering of the in-air pilot experience as us ground-dwellers could hope for. An abstract interpretation of the assignment and definitely an A+.
Having almost as much fun was our chief Mr Tom. He recce'd the pass over Mt Hood last night, and today decided to take it on. He tells it best himself:
We heard it took four hours but we'd never correct the boss. Eventually though, SkySchool's Alex Ledger did manage to help him back into the air:
Harry Waugh and Ed Hamilton, flying as Team Below Us the States took on the same pass, with slightly more success. According to Harry: "Ed had some issues taking off so I cracked on ahead without my nav man. Sorted it as I climbed to the hill at the cost of one monumental data charge to the phone bill." Running out of fuel just before the finish, it's lucky he managed to sweet talk Cayle Royce's support car to fetch him:
The only problem now, is that Harry's lost a switch somewhere over the wilderness. He assures us that he has MacGyvered a solution and that the switch is "now illuminated." We can't wait to see.
The Race Class may be won, but the Adventure continues until the 24th October. Tomorrow, we are anticipating the arrival of Byron Leisek and Ryan Southwell at the finish line. As for anyone else? It would be foolish to speculate.
If you think you could be a contender for the crown next year, or want to join the flying hobos in Adventure Class, applications are open for the 2016 Icarus Trophy.
The first 10 pilots to sign up will get in for the 2015 entry fee.
If you don't yet fly, there's still time to learn - Fisch has only been paramotoring for a year. Check out our training partners here.