Kristianna May rocked up to the Icarus X series in Dorset and signed up on the spot. She took to the clouds with new friend Jason and together, they claimed the trophy in the Adventure Division.
Why did you decide to do the Icarus X?
I was just catching a ride down with another pilot to network and to explore possibilities for the future. I had been interested in the Icarus since last year, when I followed the race. I just showed up on Friday night and the guys doing the race were like "you can do it too." I didn't even have a map or know where I was in England but they convinced me to do it and I'm so happy I did, it's such an achievement and so fun and random.
Tell us the story of the adventure.
It was a whole rollercoaster of spontaneous experiences! I didn't think I was competitive beforehand, we were just going to do it for fun but all of a sudden within a few hours of starting there was this element of eagerness and anxiety. We thought if we’re going to do this, we’re going to it right.
I met Jason just a week or two before hand at the British Opens - we competed alongside each other. The reason we only spoke was because he flew the same way as me and from talking we found out we have the same sort of flying attitude. Neither of us had done this sort of race before.
It started off as a regular sort of race and then we ended up getting people to sign our shirts, I was dancing on top of the tables in the restaurants, I ended up on the shoulders of a big group of people carrying me out on the street into the rain, hitch hiking in the dark and getting totally lost. It was so ridiculous and such a huge risk that I took because I had no idea if the Paramotor was going to carry me or if I was even going to get off the ground. Everything was borrowed because I didn’t go there with any plans in mind and I didn’t even have my own shoes. We had this element of fear always at the back of our minds.
Did you ever think you weren’t going to make it?
When we were heading towards Dartmoor mountains with the scariest image I've ever had in front of me and having to go through that calculation in my head. I was asking myself "Should I risk my life to get these points or should I turn around and beeline in the opposite direction because that rain is heading straight towards me."
The second scariest moment was when we ran out of fuel and didn't have anywhere to land. We knew we were stranded in the village we landed in until we could get help. We had to hitchhike. The whole fact that it was temporary and that the worse thing was that we wouldn’t sleep for a couple of days or we’d be sore helped us get through the tough times and made it worth it.
If you had to choose your favorite moment?
Getting carried through the streets by a stag party, these super drunk guys. There was about 12 of them it was like a crowd surfing experience that I've never experienced in my life and may never again.
It was just so hilarious I just don’t know how I ended up there at all and the next morning I had such random messages written all over me.
What do you think of the Icarus Trophy?
I think it’s awesome. I wish I could do it but I still have no Paramotor, it’s so funny I borrowed the wing for the race I have to give that back in a week. I would totally do it. I would love to just jump on a plane and go over there.
Why would you say there are fewer girls in the paramotoring world?
Because girls often have this preconceived notion that it's obviously a male dominated sport which it is. It’s kind of like motorcycles of the sky and so girls aren’t encouraged to try it and secondly they are intimidated by the weight and the sound of the motor. But I’m a girl who wears dresses, has long hair, isn’t sporty and can’t catch a ball to save my life.
You don't have to be strong or masculine to do this type of thing. I think women are actually much better pilots because they more detail oriented and they make more graceful flyers, I think they are more careful with the equipment.
I decided to do this despite the uncertainty and risk because of the message I wanted to get out there and get myself exposed to share my voice – women can and are doing this, its possible and it's not overly difficult. I really hope that my presence in the sport is going to change that.
What would you say to other girls worried about doing an adventure like this?
It all depends on your attitude. If you really want to do it then it’s completely possible and it doesn’t matter what type of person you are or what sort of background you have, you don't have to be super experienced or have to be the strongest one out there, you just have to have some faith.
Just to really challenge all the beliefs we have for ourselves and about the world and other people. And not to feel less in any way or smaller in anyway because we’re not men and not the typical pilot. If I can do it, you can.