Greatest Mongol Rally photos of all time - top drawer aerial photography
Photos: Humphrey Murphy (all rights reserved, you can't pinch these without asking)
In 2010 a certain Mr. Humphrey Murphy chose to take up a new sport, the rather unusual sport of paramotoring. And where's the best place to learn the ropes of this most dangerous of sports? Mongolia of course.
He just so happened to be paramotoring across Mongolia at the same time that the 2010 Mongol Rally teams were thundering their way across the vast Steppe. The photographic masterpieces that ensued are likely to arouse a small adventure party in your pants.
You may well want to place a prop under your chin to prevent it slamming to the floor.
We caught up with the paramotoring photographer to find out how we bagged these corkers from the sky:
What made you take up paramotoring?
"I’m a climber and a canoeist mainly. Big rivers, big mountains around the world - Siberia, Everest, all that kind of stuff. The problem is, getting into and out of the mountains can take 7-8 days or more, so I decided to take up paramotoring in order to fly into base camp far quicker.
"In order to get comfortable paramotoring I decided to go somewhere in the world where I can paramotor my brains out, and hence Mongolia. From a flying perspective, first of all its relatively stable weather in Summer, but second of all, there are no fences, no telegraph poles and few buildings. Coming down to land on the Steppe is considerably easier than anywhere else."
What are you flying and how long can you stay airborne?
"It’s a paramotor, like a paraglider but with a 2-stroke single cylinder motor attached to my back. It’s about the simplest motor you can get, smaller than most motorcycle engines, not much bigger than a lawn mower engine.
"I can stay up for about 2 hours, but at altitude the prop has to do more work to push you forward and so you use more fuel. A 9 litre tank would fly the 2 hours, but I had another 3 litres in Coca-Cola bottles hung from the side so I would land, fill up and carry on to find fuel... which in Mongolia is a bit tricky."
How long were you there, did you keep up with the Ralliers?
"I was there for a month and did about 16 days of flying. I was travelling significantly faster than the Rally cars when flying West, 40-50kmph, one morning I hit 118kmph which is a phenomenal speed in a paramotor, to be honest that scared the hell out of me."
What did it look like to see such inappropriate vehicles driving across the Steppe?
"Well, to be honest you do wonder who’s being sillier.
"The teams seemed to cross the Steppe in little groups or convoys. The funniest were the ambulances, it’s one of the most incongruous things to see, you're flying across deserted landscapes, you look down and see a mountain rescue ambulance next to a Dutch ambulance and a couple of British cars."
Said incongruous ambulance:
Camping with the Rally teams, Humphrey's paramotor on the left:
What did the Mongolians you met think of your aerial antics?
"One of the good things with paramotoring is I can go completely off the beaten track so you come across people who've had very little contact with Western civilisation. In some places I just literally landed out of the sky and they didn’t know what to make of me. Some had limited access to television so they were absolutely flabbergasted as to what this machine was. I must say that the whole Mongolian experience and people were fantastic.
"And also the Ralliers I met out there, there was a lovely spirit about the whole thing. It lacked that competitive ‘hardness’ that you get in other events. The best way I can describe it was it was like a kind of moving party, like a huge longitudinal party making it’s way from England to Ulaan Baatar - incredible."
How did you take the photos while flying?
"Well, the flying part is actually relatively easy, you only really need your arms if you want to make sharp manoeuvres, in fact at times it can actually get rather boring so taking shots isn’t a problem. I had a couple of cameras, a GoPro and a Canon G11.
"I’m actually heading to Kazakhstan this summer and have bought a couple of wing mounted cameras that I’ll be able to switch on and leave running over the course of the flight."
What's the trickiest bit of paramotoring?
"The landing. There were a number of times I face planted just from landing badly."
Flying high above the 40m high stainless steel statue of Genghis Khan (50km east of the capital Ulaan Baatar)
Ouch, any other hairy moments?
"There were a couple of bad ones. Paramotors have flexible wings so if you get bad movements of air the wing collapses and I had a really bad one in the mountains around Olgi. A big wind sheer caused the wing to collapse and I plummeted for quite a distance before I managed to regain control. Then a couple of days later I took a wrong turn, none of the Rally cars were around and I was heading down a valley, the wrong valley, and I ended up out in this dried up lake with no fuel and spent a day trying to make my way back to civilisation as I had no fuel, water, food, nothing."
Hitching a ride in with one of the Mongol Rally teams:
What's your next adventure?
"Hopefully Kazakhstan this August, similar thing - West to East. I'll try and bump into some of the Ralliers on their way through. Keep an eye out in the sky if you’re a Rallier and driving the southern route through Kazakhstan."
Mongol Rally Live & 2013
The Mongol Rally is in full-swing, follow the teams through their final days on the Rally with our Live Tracking. If after perusing this photography you have a bout of the adventure-pangs, you can sign up to the Mongol Rally 2013 here. What will you do next summer?
Photos Credit: Humphrey Murphy (all rights reserved) please email The Adventurists Media Centre if you would like to reproduce any of the photos or this blog - requests for syndication welcomed by our resident media tarts.
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Mongol Rally from the sky
Aerial shots by Humphrey Murphy paramotoring over the Mongol Rally teams as they cross Mongolia in 2010
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