Microlight in flight of Ikarus challenge

Last minute fettling
Last minute fettling

A SELF-CONFESSED challenge-hungry aviator is set to take on a world record next month.

Richard Foster and his co-pilot Richard Bird are planning to fly from Goodwood to South Africa – in a microlight.

The end of a long day, Kecsked, Hungary

The end of a long day, Kecsked, Hungary

“I’m doing it for fun, the sheer adventure and to show that the latest breed of lightweight, fuel-efficient microlights are not only a joy to fly, 
but have the capability and reliability to 
withstand the severe weather and hostile terrain that can be expected on this demanding route,” said Richard Foster.

The team aim to be the first to fly a C42 microlight the 12,500 miles to Capetown and back. If that wasn’t daring enough, they plan to take the trip without ground crew or accompanying aircraft, with little more than a Swiss army knife and a flask of coffee.

“We are going totally unsupported,” 
said Richard.

“It should take one month each way.”

An ex-firefighter, Richard is seemingly unperturbed about the trip.

“We will be flying over the desert and long stretches of water,” he said. “I think we will be covering about 30 countries.

“The flight is filled with peril – but we will try to minimise the risks. We are going to carry emergency beacons.”

The route will take them from Goodwood, across the channel to France then on to Italy, Croatia, Greece and Crete – and over the Mediterranean Sea to Africa where they will fly over the 
Sahara Desert.

“It will be a far less luxurious journey than the elegant Imperial Airways flights of the 1930s,” said Richard, who plans to retrace their flying path on the journey home.

The pair will be landing – but planning when and where will prove tricky.

“We might find ourselves in the middle of 
the desert,” said Richard. “We’re just going to see how it goes.”

Both Richards will be flying the Ikarus C42 a two-seater, fixed tricycle gear, general aviation microlight. A microlight is an aeroplane capable of flight in the same way as any other. It must weigh around 265kg at most and it must be able to fly at low speed.

Richard, who lives in Bognor Regis, is chief flying instructor at Goodwood-based South Coast Microlights. He gave up a career in the fire service in the hope of getting paid to fly, and now spends his days teaching flying fanatics the art of microlighting.

“I switched from light aircraft to microlights after learning to fly in the States about 15 years ago,” said Richard. “I’ve flown many types, from the grass-roots AX3 through to the hotship CT and pretty much everything in between.”

Last summer, Richard, who is not one to turn down a challenge, and Rob Rackstraw flew the microlight 4,000 miles from London to Crete and back – battling bureaucratic issues with Greek aerospace, ‘terrible’ weather over Germany and threatening fog in France.

“We thought we would call it the flight of Ikarus,” said Richard. “We are tempting fate.”

Daredevil Richard and his team also made an attempt at the World Fixed-Wing Microlight Altitude Record while in Greece.

He reached 20,047 feet, establishing a new British record – but not the world record of 25,000 feet.

“We really want to do it. We are so nearly there,” said Richard.

Undaunted, he will be having another go as soon as the weather and ‘officialdom’ permits.

“You can imagine it’s pretty cold up there,” said Richard. “The views are amazing.”

Richard is aiming to take off at the end of February, weather permitting, with plans to beat his altitude challenge in the next few weeks.

Experience Richard’s passion for flying at www.southcoastmicrolights.co.uk or call 07807 239590 to book an air experience.

Read about Richard’s record attempts at www.flightofikarus.com