March 8, 2019

Category: Icarus Trophy

The 2019 Icarus Trophy brings us to the skies over Brazil. Specifically Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. As playgrounds go, we think this one is pretty much unbeatable.


The Start: Nova Mutum, Mato Grosso (-13.815 / -56.035)

About 200km north of Cuiaba this airport has a huge runway but only one scheduled flight each day. There is acres of space overhead for test flights.

You can get to Cuiaba from Rio in about 4 hours, flights cost about $120. From Cuiaba it’s a coach journey to Mato Grosso.

Nova Mutum Airport

Checkpoint 1: Cachoeira do Jatobá (-14.91677, -60.0751)

The Jatoba Falls (4th largest in Brazil)

**This is a Race Division checkpoint only. Adventure division pilots head south to Chapada**

The Jatoba Falls are the biggest in Mato Grosso and the 4th largest in Brazil. 450 km west of the start line, close to the Bolivian border, this checkpoint takes the Race Division pilots on a 740 kilometre ‘scenic route’ that gives the Adventure Division pilots a headstart. There is no landing spot by the waterfall, so pilots need to take a ‘selfie’ photo in front of the falls.

From the checkpoint they head back east to Chapada, which marks the beginning of the Pantanal. This is where things get really interesting. The Pantanal flood plains are not much smaller than England, consisting of little more than tropical wetland and farms. There aren’t many roads, or towns so local farmers get around by light aircraft. This will mean stopping strategies are going to become paramount.

Race division pilots will take a second dog leg in the last half of the race that takes them deep into the Pantanal (there will be a fuel drop for some of the more inaccessible areas).

The Pantanal
– The world’s largest tropical wetland
– 109,000 km2
– A flood basin of the surrounding uplands
– 80% of the Pantanal is flooded during the rainy season
– 80 to 150 metres above sea level
– Home to 1000 species of bird, 400 species of fish, 300 species of mammal, 480 types of reptile and 9000 different invertebrates.

Mr Daniel over a river in the Pantanal

Finish Line: Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul (-21.135, -56.473)

The finish line is at a lasso club on the edge of Bonito. After the sparse wilds of the Pantanal, this is a lively place to celebrate completion of the world’s toughest air race.

Adventure Division pilots would’ve flown around 800km to get here. Because of the two detours, Race Division pilots will fly about 1600km.

There are regular flights from Bonito back to Rio.

The lasso ranch at Bonito