Tucker Gott, 22, is a paramotoring phenomenon with over 470,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel. From New Jersey, he won this year’s Icarus Trophy Race Series in five days and flew nearly 2,500km. Matt Warren spoke to him
How did he get into flying? “I’d seen YouTube videos of paramotoring from forever ago, when I was in middle school, and I made it a goal. When I was 18, in 2013, I’d been working at a skydiving place, packing parachutes, and I saved the money to go and get training at Aviator PPG in Florida.
“I heard of the Icarus Trophy as soon as it came out and I decided to go for it this year. But it was kind of last minute as I’d just got back from Iceland. I knew the race was coming up, and I didn’t want to rush it, but in the end I only had a week to get everything together, including sorting out my fuel bladder, which turned into a whole project in itself. I couldn’t visualise what it was going to be like until it actually happened.
“The biggest cross-country flight I’d ever done was around 50 miles. I’d also just got another wing to do the race on – an Ozone Freeride 19, flown with a Scout paramotor – and I got to do one test flight on it before I arrived at the start. I think because the steering lines weren’t adjusted properly, there was this crazy oscillation on speed bar – even in really calm air. I thought that might be the reality the whole time on this wing.
“Luckily, when I got to Montana, I had a couple of days to mess with everything, and I managed to fix the problem.
“My first flight was probably the most disastrous. I came in too tight by a tree, downwind, and had a bad landing. I broke three of the spars. I managed to fix the spars, but then I went to launch and fell on my face. That was a wake-up call. I decided to ensure everything was absolutely perfect before every single launch from then on. Everything went really smooth after that, the result of good decision-making.
“Psychology is an important part of it. I was getting really frustrated, but despite the setbacks, I covered around 200 miles on that first day, which I felt good about. While I’d messed up early on, that made me feel like the progression was going to be pretty smooth…
Read the rest of the article in Cross Country 186, Dec/Jan 2018