Paramotoring glides Saudi Arabia to new heights

Paramotoring is catching on in Saudi Arabia with newcomers eager to experience the desert from a different view.

Photo by: Qassim Aviation Club/Facebook
Photo by: Qassim Aviation Club/Facebook

A paramotor gets ready for take-off in Saudi Arabia.

Want to explore the deserts of Saudi Arabia? You could use Google Earth or you could do one better - take a hand up in paramotoring.

Saudi Arabian deserts are not exactly hilly plains so instead, due to the presence of an engine, gliders can launch from a flat surface in the Qassim desert.

This is all done at the Qassim Aviation Club, a sports club that started three years ago with only three members, and since it's inception has swelled in size over the years.

"We at the Qassim club, thanks be to God, started with three (people) and now we have around 50. We have all kinds of air sports in particular paramotoring, gyrocopter, delta and trike,'' said club director, Bader Aba Alkhail.

The group meets just before sunset where trainers then direct members when they're up in the air, offering support from the ground.

But it isn't just a case of getting the hang of it after a day or two, as one of the trainers Mohammed Qafari explains, it can take weeks to get to grips with the sport.

"There is plenty of interest in our training but most of the trainees think that flying is for a day or two and that's it, they think it's an easy process, in fact flying needs at least a month of training,'' he said.

Early morning take-off over the Saudi Arabian desert. Image: Qassim Aviation Club/Facebook.

Paramotoring involves the use of a motor driving propeller that is worn on the back. The motor can be stopped and started in the air, enabling the user to adjust to the different flying conditions.

Paramotorers wear a harness as well as a frame that includes the propeller, motor and cage. It can be steered using brake toggles that are similar to that of a parachutist.

Abdullah Al-Qareit is a new member. He says the sport enables him to feel free and appreciate the natural surroundings.

''It's a hobby, curiosity, a change. You see the land from a beautiful and natural way, everything is beautiful in aviation sport, it's enjoyable,'' he said

A training course costs 5000 riyals, the equivalent of more than $1,300 and includes an international aviation licence.

The equipment can cost between 40,000 to 55,000 riyals (around $10,000 to $14,000), and with professional gear amounting to more than $26,000.

Paramotoring over the Saudi Arabian desert as the sun rises. Image: Qassim Aviation Club/Facebook.