Human powered aircraft and paramotor championships return to Manston for 2024

Paramotor championships Photo Lynne Orgovanyi

After a successful first outing in 2023, this June (14 – 24 June), Manston will once again be the site for the British Open and National Paramotor Championships (BOPC), hosted by the RAF Manston History Museum and airport site owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP).

Barney Townsend from BOPC said: “We tested the championships at Manston in 2023 and both the RAF Manston History Museum and airport owners RSP were brilliant hosts. There was plenty of space for both the competition and the camping, and the atmosphere was fantastic. Kent offers visitors a stunning coastline and it’s just a short hop into London by train from nearby Ramsgate.

“We’re not only coming back with the British Open and National Championships again in 2024, we’re also planning to bring the first FAI World Paramotor Endurance Championships to Manston from 3-10 August.

Photo Tracy Anderson

“This is a hugely exciting event where nations from around the world will send pilots to compete in both foot launch and trike classes. Sponsored by Liberty Paramotors and Vittorazi Motors, it will be the first time that the endurance format, ratified by CIMA for FAI Category One status in 2019, is delivered as a championship event at this level.

“Symbolically, Manson is an ideal venue for this event; it comes with a long history of aviation: the Dambusters flew training flights from here; Concorde flew from here; the first human powered aircraft across the English Channel is based here.”

Paramotoring is a form of ultralight aviation where the pilot wears a back-pack motor, which provides enough thrust to take off using a paraglider. Steering well away from live flight paths, paramotor pilots can ascend several thousand feet into the air, but typically fly at around 1,000 feet, their small motors making only a distant buzz as they pass overhead – as if someone was mowing the lawn in the distance.

The main part of the competition is similar to aerial orienteering. Pilots use navigation skills and adapted Ordinance Survey maps to locate a series of targets on the ground. As they fly directly over each target, within an imaginary cylinder projecting upwards from the ground, their progress is registered and reported back to the ground via a live GPS feed that the audience can also watch as the event unfolds. No satnavs are allowed, just precision flying and map-reading skills.

Jeanene Groombridge, RAF Manston History Museum, said: “We thoroughly enjoyed our experience working with the organisers last year and it is a privilege to be once again hosting both the British and the World Championships this year. We are dedicated to not only preserving the history of Manston, but also giving back to and educating the community, including youth groups such as our air cadets.

“Hosting these events was just another way that we could do that. We hope to do everything that we can to make these championships a roaring success and we wish Barney and his team every success.”

Between 28-30 June, the airfield will also play host to the Flying Quarter Festival – a multi category motorcycle speed trial inspired by a 1920’s concept of achieving the highest speed possible within a quarter mile. Glamping and camping facilities, a music stage and food village all add to the attraction, creating a spectacular weekend of fun and excitement.

Photo Lynne Orgovanyi

Gary Blake, Airport Manager, is delighted to welcome the events to Manston. He said: “The airfield deserves to be used for the purpose for which it was created – flight – and so it’s fantastic to see the paramotor community embrace Manston so enthusiastically as a venue for their competitive events.

“Along with the General Aviation Fly In and Open Cockpit weekends, there’s a real buzz about the airport when everyone is here, which is wonderful – and a reminder of Manston’s true purpose.

“However, Manston is also building quite a reputation for land speed events too – I am delighted to welcome the Flying Quarter Festival and we look forward to hosting such a fantastic event.

“I completely understand and agree that, for many local people, the priority remains to get Manston reopened as a commercial airport – and that remains our focus too. However, to be able to provide local communities with opportunities to experience these amazing and entertaining events feels like an excellent way of keeping Manston firmly at the centre of the Thanet community, while we await the positive outcome from the Court of Appeal that we all firmly hope will soon come to pass.”

Other events to look out for this year, include the Light Aircraft Association Charity Strut Fly In on the May Bank Holiday weekend (24-26 May 2024), in support of the Martha Trust, Manston History Museum, and Brain Tumour Research.

Open to the public for tours of the aircraft one they are on the airfield; more than 300 aircraft are expected to fly into Manston over the weekend.

 

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