With an outstanding pilot in paramotoring, we would like to carry on with the series of FAI World Record anniversaries: Ten years ago on 23 June 2005, the three Russian pilots Vladimir Makurin, Nikolay Karabchouk and Alexander Bogdanov each broke an FAI World Record with a project named “Troika Air”.
Two of them are still valid today, including Bogdanov’s. He took off from the “Stupino” airfield, south of Moscow and headed southeast past Volgograd and the Volga River to Kopanovka, in the region of Astrakhanskii. By completing 1.023,106 km in 15h 21min 24sec with his paramotor Simonini “FB-Simo122” and using the canopy Swing “Mistral Twin”, he established the World Record in “Distance in a straight line without landing” in class R (Microlights and Paramotors) in subclass PL1 (paramotors with paraglider control system, flown with one person, Landplane landing device).
Good planning led to success
We asked Bogdanov himself about his thoughts when recalling his great flight: “It took us one year to prepare. Our biggest contender in setting World Records but also competing at World and European Championships was the Spanish National team. Their member Ramón Morillas Salmeron was the holder of the long distance record for PF1 [paramotors with paraglider control system, flown with one person, foot-launched landing device], so this project ‘Troika Air’ was an answer to him: We planned to break the records in all three classes available: PF1, PL1 and PL2 [paramotors with paraglider control system, flown with two persons, Landplane landing device - in this case with passenger Mrs. Olga Rusakova] and we made it!”, Bogdanov stated.
Sergey Kiselev, FAI Official Observer on this attempt, said about Bogdanov and his achievements, “Alexander is a brave, friendly and sociable person. He is an excellent pilot and organizer, who managed to create a team of associates and to implement a complex project - a record of a 1000 kilometer flight with a paramator.”
Flying an ultralight aircraft for a non-stop distance over 1.000 km in Europe or Western Asia can be problematic due to unforeseen situations, “Primarily due to the unpredictability of the weather on such long routes, but also due to the complexity of organizing such flights and taking into consideration the safety of the pilots”, Kiselev added. Indeed, one can easily understand how hard it must have been to be in the air for over 15 hours, exposed to unpredictably low temperatures at such an altitude.
His record-breaking flight is an example of hard and lasting work in the field of meteorology, choosing the right route and observing safety measures during the flight. According to Bogdanov, one of the big challenges was to get the permission of the Air Traffic Control Department. Nevertheless, the team managed to get the 1.500km long and 0 to 2.000m high window for their three paramotors, crossing half of Russia from north to south. Bogdanov about his first thoughts after he landed: “I understood immediately that the record was broken when I landed. I was really proud of myself when I got the confirmation from FAI. That also meant that I had compiled all documents and measurements correctly, which is not that easy.” Kiselev added, “I am proud that I have been the FAI Official Observer for this magnificent achievement.”
Involved in aviation since his early life
The Russian pilot studied at the Moscow Aviation Institute and was previously a parachutist in the Russian Army. He is a specialized paramotor pilot since 1990 and since 1999 a regular participant in paramotor sports events. In his sports career he has won numerous prizes as a pilot but he has also been an official in the role of Director of FAI World Championships or as the Official Air Operator.
In addition, the 46 year old athlete, together with seven other pilots who were all professional athletes and pilots from the former Russian National Team, created the ParaworldAirTeam which regularly participates in airshows, events and demonstrations of parachuting, paragliding and paramotoring.
Next to the sport, the team focuses on aerial photography. The athletes use their passion of flying to show the beauty of Earth from their perspective by combining over 20 years of sport experience in the air and capturing the right angle of any object. The agility of the aircraft allows the pilots not only to manoeuvre them easily, but also to discover the most remote places.
In January 2011, Alexander and Vladimir Makurin, who is also member of the ParaworldAirTeam, explored white beluga whales in the Okhotskoe Sea. “That was a very nice and interesting trip. It was our first experience to fly above the open ocean with paramotors. This specific expedition shows that paramotors are very effective when used to study the ocean's animals. These engines are more operative than planes or helicopters. We are able to take photos much closer because paramotors have a low sound level and the animals are not afraid. So we flew only 20 - 50m above them without disturbing them. We got beautiful photos from this trip.”
What is planned next
At the moment, Bogdanov is preparing for the upcoming “Volga Air Rafting” Rally in July. The idea for this project originated in 2012, together with Michael Chikurov, also ParaWorldAirTeam member, when they made their first unsupported expedition starting from the Volga source to the Caspian Sea. Both pilots managed to cover over 2.800km. The objective is to take off at the same place where they landed before. Following this scheme, they have discovered new places, met new people and spotted the wonderful landscape of the Volga River. In 2013 the project was carried out as a race for the best paramotor pilots over a 1.000km distance. It is known as an adventure race with a difference and the next edition is planned over a 1.300km distance.
Furthermore, Bogdanov is thinking about a new attempt, “I have lots of ideas in my mind. Probably I won’t try to break my own record. But since Ramón already broke Makurin’s record of the ‘Troika Air’-project, it is again time for us to make a step. Making a record is like a competition and you can do them anytime when you think you are ready.”
Alexander Bogdanov is certainly an inspiring pilot, who is performing outstanding air sports. Combining his passion for flying with photography and showing his viewpoint of the world is a wonderful blend to inspire others. His last announcement leans towards a new adventure and we are sure we will hear back again from him soon.
(Photo credits: Alexander Bogdanov and www.ParaWorld.ru)