Photos by Seth Royce
Najah al Riyami –
MUSCAT, JAN 20 –
I arrive at Sawadi Beach and meet assistant manager and APPI PPG certified Seth Royce, who will be taking me on my first Paramotoring experience today. We walk towards what looks like a go-kart with three wheels. This, I learn, is called a trike. The motor attached to the back of it will give us lift, and the large Kite connected to it with many ropes will help us stay in the air. “The trike’s name is Tango One Zero” Seth tells me “ it’s the exact trike I flew across Kenya”. SkySchool, I’ve learnt, has opened centres in a number of countries, such as Italy, Spain, France and now Oman, since it first began 13 years ago.
I take some pictures and watch in awe as these little people in their distant heights glide and swerve gracefully across the vast terrain, over the sea, the mountains, the islands. I begin to get nervous as I step into the seat behind Seth. It is more comfortable than I imagined- not like a go-kart at all, there is soft cushioning on the seat and where I place my feet.
My heart beats faster as I put on the headset which will allow Seth and I to hear each other from the height. I can’t imagine, at this point, being way up there in the sky within minutes. I put my helmet over this, pull the seatbelt over my arms and shoulders, buckle up, and we are are ready to go. I hold onto the sides of the trike as if it will keep me in place as we gather speed on the ground before lift off. I almost shut my eyes — but am glad I didn’t — because if I had, I would not have been able to describe the breathtaking views that were to follow: free of the ground and now sky bound; the vastness of the ocean, the beach, the mountains, and islands, all visible all at once in a single gaze. I am not afraid, only more peaceful than I have felt in a while.
We see a car that, Seth tells me, has been stuck in the sand all morning. Its tire-track efforts to free itself clearly visible from above. We manoeuvre over and around the small Islands which sit near the Sawadi beach coastline. From this height, I can see the tree lined steep path leading up one small island to the fort at its crest, as well as the landing pad on the other side of the cliff. I am mesmerised by the glare and sparkle of the sun over the sea as we glide above the water, past clusters of families playing along the beach; the mist framing the edge of the distant horizon where sea meets sky.
To conquer gravity, to see, from this incredible distance, is definitely an experience I will be pursuing again.
Originally founded in the UK 13 years ago by British adventurer and APPI PPG Master instructor Alex Ledger, specialising in Paramotor training and tandem flights, SkySchool Oman brings previously unavailable tandem flight opportunities to the Sultanate; allowing people to experience its breathtaking views from above; gliding effortlessly and gracefully across its various diverse landscapes from the ocean views of Sawadi beach to the vast plains of the Wahiba Sands.
The Paramotor School and Tandem ParaTrike Centre currently has three full-time instructors in Oman with 28 years flying experience between them. The Association of Paragliding Pilots and Instructors (APPI PPG) licence is obtained by completing the full pilot’s training syllabus through a 12 Day course for beginners or a 6 Day course for people who have flown before. ‘To be APPI Certified means that you are safe to fly in a lot of countries around the world’ Seth explains.
The course consists of both classroom and flying time with an office based in Madinat al Sultan Qaboos. ‘We focus on the APPI training system to get people trained to the right level on the right equipment so that they feel confident in themselves and we feel confident sending them into the sky.’
It is suitable for the faint hearted. Seth explains ‘paramotoring is actually the safest form of powered flight. The wings are extremely safe, the engines are extremely safe. If you’ve ever seen paragliding; you are using exactly the same techniques of flight, only you are powering it with an engine.’ He points out that ‘when they [the students] go into the sky, they’ve got a helmet and headset on where we can talk to them and tell them what needs to be done, so, you are never alone up there. We’ve always got our chief flying instructor talking you through exactly what needs to be done when things need to be done.’
The school, being the first of its kind in Oman, has received an impressive amount of interest from a surprising number of locals. ‘The big surprises from Oman were how much there was to see and how keen the Omani people are to get involved and fly’ Seth reveals, ‘It’s definitely something new and interesting to do. We have been blown away by how amazing the country of Oman is, it is absolutely stunning compared to where we’ve been on the Arabian Peninsula, and the views from the air just blow everything else away.’
For more information about starting your flying experience please contact SkySchool Oman via Facebook or visit their website at www.SkySchoolOman.com