Motorcycle road racers are daredevils by design. The straight-line speed, railing through the turns, and the lightness of being are almost akin to flying. That’s why it’s no surprise that a lot of pilots—even members of the Navy’s Blue Angels and Air Force’s Thunderbirds—also ride motorcycles.
Recently, three members of the MotoAmerica paddock—Twins Cup riders Jason Madama and Kris Lillegard, along with sometimes rider, BARTCON Racing crew chief, and rider coach Dustin Apgar—took up the lofty sport of paramotor flying.
With two-stroke-powered, reverse-thrust propellers strapped to their backs, while also being tethered to specially designed paraglider wings that resemble elongated parachutes, Madama, Lillegard, and Apgar took to the skies in Arizona where they learned how to take off, maneuver in the air, and land safely.
“It’s honestly some of the most fun I’ve ever had,” commented Madama, who is always up for adventure. “I have done it all and then some. I’m scared to death of heights, and I still went after it…weeeeewww!”
“I love that I’ve become part of the sky,” Apgar poetically proclaimed.
The three paramigos, Madama, Apgar, and Lillegard, took flight instruction from Epic Paramotor in Maricopa, Arizona. They participated in an intensive, eight-day training course, which enabled them to complete the entire curriculum in one go.
What motivated these three formerly earthbound MotoAmerica individuals to take up paramotoring? Apgar said, “When we went to Washington for the round at Ridge Motorsports Park this past season, there were three people paramotoring around the racetrack, and we had to get into it! Thanks again to MotoAmerica for giving us another great addiction.”
When asked how paramotoring relates to motorcycle road racing, Lillegard found some similarities. “The throttle and braking systems, and you must be smooth on the inputs. Body language is also key to maneuverability. Leaving the pits and leaving the ground all fall on your shoulders to make it back safely. Also, like racing a motorcycle, you are on the throttle the majority of the time when you’re paramotoring.”