Paramotoring is 40 years old !
On the 8th of June 1980, Mike Byrne an English man from London strapped his homemade engine and propeller to his back attached a Harley 9 cell Parachute and proceed to fly from a slight hill in Essex.
He managed a flight of four and a half minutes. On landing, he called his invention a Paramotor. The first time the word was used.
Mike and Mel Richardson (from Derbyshire) took approx. two months to build the first paramotor. A cage made of tubing held together by nuts and bolts. The chassis of fiberglass which was molded to his back by lying on a bag of foam then taking the molding. A Parachute harness with power provided by a Konig 3 cylinder two-stroke engine. The whole assembly weighed 37kgs I’m told. To start the motor, it used an external battery with an electric start.
As the whole machine weight of 37 kgs hung of Mike and because of this, his flight was short. He played around for the next year making it more comfortable and developed a harness he could sit on thereby making it better to fly for longer periods. The fuel capacity was 4 lts.
Prior to the Paramotor, Mike had flown a single seat weight shift microlight, unfortunately, the wing was stolen off the roof of his car. At this time he was also doing the sport of Parascending which was towing a Parachute behind a Landrover. Just as is seen around the world nowadays behind powerboats. He had the idea of mounting a frame on the microlight chassis and seeing if it would fly with a Parachute, he did and so the powerd Parachute was born.
As a publicity stunt for a friend who had a sports shop in Romford he said he would fly down in front of the shop for a photo but as he got close to the shop a double-decker bus was there so he did a touch and go on the roof of the bus. Police were not amused!
After his crazy exploits, he moved to the USA and did commercial helicopter work in the States. On his return to the UK some years later he became a school caretaker in Hackney London.
Mike Byrne was former army 1st Parachute regiment.
Geoff Soden and Mike between them carried on to promote what has now become the sport of Paramotoring. Geoff was the first person to import a French manufactured Paramotor which had the Konig 3 cylinder motor and went on to become a Paramotor instructor and started Paramotorsuk and ran a school on his Microlight airfield at Alconbury and still gives a few lessons and tips to really keen persons at Little Gransden Airfield.
Mel Richardson an engineer from Ilkeston Derbyshire. Was very much into Helicopters and Autogyro’s
To mark the occasion after a very windy day Mark Jefferies took the Nova Phantom and chose the “next generation” motor, the electric Skyjam Lizard. Electric is the future, the only issue is whats called “power density” of the current batteries. From a very small volume of hydrocarbon fuel you get a huge amount of energy, the same is not true for batteries unfortunately. Battery power starts with a duration of 25 minuets however adding batteries extends airborne time. Mark is the UK agent for the Swiss company SkyJam.
Noel Whittall wrote the first Paramotor book (2002) and is a long time aviator. Robbie Whittall his son founded Ozone paraglider.
Paramotoring From The Ground Up Jeff Goin US Champion wrote the book. The Powered Paragliding Bible. The Go-To Book on Powered Paragliding. He’s a current airline pilot.