Wings Over the Desert: Paramotor Adventure in Jordan

by Inga Yandell

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Jordan is a land of mind-blowing scenery and iconic historical sites. This spring for the first time, a group of intrepid paramotor pilots were invited by the Aqaba Tourism Directorate to explore these landscapes and ancient ruins from the air. Thanks to cooperation from the Royal Aero Sports Club of Jordan, these minimal flying machines were able to fly closer than any other manned aircraft before to the vertiginous topography and unique history of this desert Kingdom. With potentially dangerous conditions and challenging landscapes, the flights required careful planning and patience but when it all came together, the pilots were rewarded with the experience of a lifetime.

After sleeping under the stars, the team woke before first light to prepare their equipment and get airbourne before the intense desert heat made the air too lively for safe flights. The adventure took them first to the incredible rock formations of Wadi Rum, which stood in for Mars in the film The Martian starring Matt Damon, as well as being the setting for Lawrence of Arabia. Here the pilots negotiated towering rock outcrops and ravines before sampling the legendary Bedouin hospitality. Further north, the team had the privilege of flying the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Petra, once a thriving city in the desert with elaborate temples and an amphitheatre all hewn from bedrock. After passing over the mountains at 5000ft, they descended to the Dead Sea where they rounded off the adventure skimming over the salty waters at sunset 1000ft below sea level.

About the photographer

Fergus Kennedy is a marine biologist, photographer, and film-maker, and an experienced multi-rotor pilot and camera operator. Through his company, Skylark Aerial Imaging, he provides aerial video, still photography, and 3D modelling services to clients including the BBC, ITV, ABC Television, Canon Europe, Toyota, Nissan, Love Productions (Fergus is responsible for the intro sequence for the Great British Bake Off), WWF, and the Royal Navy. His first book Drone Photography Masterclass was published by Ammonite Press in 2017 and he is a judge for the Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition. This autumn he serves as consultant editor on the new book Masters of Drone Photography which will bring together an amazing collection of drone photographers from around the world and share their secrets on how they achieve such wonderous photos.

Skylark Aerial Imaging www.skylarkaerialimaging.com
Drone Photography Masterclass www.thegmcgroup.com
Ammonite Press www.ammonitepress.com
Outdoor Photographer of the Year www.opoty.co.uk

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
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