The Paramotor Sonoma to Oshkosh UNSUPPORTED Adventure was born out of the Paramotor Adventure Trip Choices which shared the two-year process leading to the planning of this trip—this is the story of the months leading up to the trip.
February was an awesome month that started with returning to the Salton Sea and this time joined by members of my Coast to Coast Crew. There we were surrounded by all the paramotor greats(too many to mention) and were fortunate enough to camp alongside Chris Santacroce. Everyone was treated to the escapades of Matt Minyard and the ITV team an amazing pilot who was on the tiniest-fastest glider I’d ever seen—and powered by some incredibly powerful water-cooled motor. It was a blast!
We continued on to Gamis-Dunes which was as always great, though two serious incidents occurred within 12 hours, one that involved the renowned Preditor Paramotor Pilot, Chris Holbert. I a big reminder that weather and mistakes are punishing! Two members of my crew and I continued on to fly Pinal Airpark—an aircraft storage/boneyard facility. It was here that I got the idea for the name of a paramotor school.
Next on to AK-Chin Reginal Airport to meet Nik and Noah Rasheta of Epic Paramotor in Arizona. Noah recently took over the reins as President of the USPPA from our esteemed Jeff Goin, author of the PPG BIBLE. The overnight stay provided the perfect launch to fly a landmark I had wanted to do for years—Sacaton Mine. Catus Mine as it is now known has an open pit portion of the mine that is about 3,100 feet in diameter and 980 feet deep. The mine produced about 11,000 tons per day and employed up to 400 people. The mine extracted 38 million tons, with 400 million pounds of copper, 759,000 ounces of silver, and 27,000 ounces of gold from the West open pit orebody—so, I’m just trying to say the pit is HUGE! Flying over it or even inside a portion of the rim is awesome, but I took it a ‘hole’ step further. I’m not the only one to have done this, Chris Holbert had previously foot-dragged the water at the bottom. I wasn’t that bold, but I did achieve getting 700 feet deep into the Sacaton Mine. I thought it was pretty cool, but please don’t try this unless you know what you’re doing!
The final stop in the trip was of course Arizona Flying Circus—an annual gathering celebrating a fun, eccentric, and diverse camaraderie of amazing people partaking in aviation, shooting, pyro fun, large-scale art, and other activities in the pristine beauty of the Arizona Sonoran Desert. Each year in February people make the trip to a remote airport in the Sonoran Desert. Part fly-in, part Burning Man, part Wild West, the Arizona Flying Circus has evolved into a rather unusual event like no other. If you have never been to Motown, affectionately named after its supreme leader, you must go!
It was now March 2022 and it was clear Alaska to Russia was out of the question. After discussing my options with trusted friends Ray Pearce and Greg Anthony Harris, it was clear Sonoma to Oshkosh was the only option for 2022. Like the Coast to Coast, the trip seemed very daunting, but I had one big advantage—I had done a big XC before and I knew what I had to do to prepare.
I had just started ground school study for an airplane instrument rating and the physical training provided a healthy break from the mental work of learning. Those that know me can share how hard it is for me to read and memorize the material. I’ve struggled with it my whole life—I’ve always had to study twice as hard for half the grade—it can lead to acute depression when other things in my life aren’t going so well either. Two months later just before heading to Bad Apples Fly-in I successfully passed the exam with a respectable 87%.
May—I was excited to go to the Bad Apples since I hadn’t been to an east coast fly-in since 2020. It was an opportunity to meet people I hadn’t before, and see paramotor friends. My important cargo—a large donation for Resurgence PPG, a couple of suitcases of merchandise from a defunct paramotor school that I helped in 2019. I had a great first day and it was a joy to see many people and once again be on Hodges Field. Sadly this didn’t last. As it turned out I wasn’t the only one experiencing a little drama, but I just didn’t want to stay. It later became apparent that the allegation wasn’t true and I had the evidence to prove it. It didn’t matter as it had already harmed my reputation—it made me want to stop doing anything with the paramotor community entirely.
As usual, I don’t know how to quit, and I was reminded that my Paramotor Adventures were done for Me—not anyone else. So in June, I announced the trip, and the hard work of training and preparing for what was perhaps one of the most difficult trips ever attempted on a Foot Launch Paramotor in the USA.
If you enjoyed the stories about Adventure Wingman 2022 that covered 1000 miles in 10 days, then your gonna love this story covering nearly 2000 miles in just 6 days. Continue reading about the Sonoma to Oshkosh Adventure through the links below.