Man's epic flight with two-stroke motor strapped to his back
FLYING from Australia's lowest point to its highest peak with a two-stroke motor strapped to your back might sound like madness to some.
But for Andrew Polidano, it was a plan a long time in the making.
The Ballina-based Ballina paramotor pilot and instructor last month flew from Lake Eyre to the the crest of Mt Kosciuszko with a group of mates.
From 49 feet below sea level to 7310 above, Mr Polidano said the two-week journey had its fair share of stunning sights, including a sunset over the Flinders Ranges.
But it wasn't without its challenges, with 100km/h winds and severe turbulence in the same location, a close shave with a storm and numbing cold as they neared the final destination.
On part of the journey, a decision to make the most of a tail wind nearly landed him in hot water, Mr Polidano said.
"(At one point) there were some storm clouds around ... I made the decision I was going to run the tail wind," he said.
"My friends decided to stick to the road and take a different path.
"It was one of those "I wish I was on the ground" moments.
"That was one of the situations that was a bit hairy ... but it all adds to the adventure. It didn't put me off flying."
He said some of the sights between South Australia and Mt Kosciuszko were nothing short of breathtaking.
"Flying the Flinders Ranges on sunset, when that light hits the beautiful red-orange mountains and you've got four mates in the air with you (was amazing)," he said.
Accompanied by a group aged 23 to 62, all members of the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia, Mr Polidano said the journey was the longest paramotor climb yet.
With 28 horsepower engines behind them, the group tackled the final ascent from Khancoban, on the edge of Kosciuszko National Park.
"There were quite strong winds up high," Mr Polidano said.
While the journey took about two weeks, there were some sections they were unable to safely fly.
"There were certain sections we had to drive," he said.
"There were periods where we couldn't fly, the wind was too strong, we were going to be stuck for a couple of days."
Mr Polidano said he'd long had a passion for being up in the air.
"I just wanted to be like a bird ... and feel the freedom of flight," he said.
"My first ever flight was from Cape Byron in 1995 with a hang-glider."
He first went paragliding in 1997, has been flying paramotors since 2001 and also runs courses through Poliglide, based out of Ballina.