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Mathieu Rouanet, Paramotor World Champion 2005

Interview by Ojovolador.com. Reproduction strictly forbidden. © Ojovolador.com 2007. All rights reserved.

“All paraglider pilots should try Paramotoring: They would be surprised!”

For the top French pilot, Mathieu Rouanet, flying has always been a part of his life.
Raised in Gourdon, in the maritime Alps, south of France –one of the areas in Europe with more flyable days a year- and the son of hanglider and paraglider pilots (mother has now taken up skydiving while brother flies jets!), it is no wonder that Mathieu started paragliding at the age of 14 and quickly progressed in the sport. He soon became an instructor and even did some competition, but after several years living of and for free flight he suddenly realized that he found no magic in it anymore.
That's why he decided to try paramotoring, about 5 years ago: to do something new, something different. Paramotoring immediately seduced Mathieu for the huge range of possibilities that offered. It was the perfect complement for free flight and, far from neglecting any of the both, Mathieu swears that being a paraglider and a paramotor pilot is a big advantage for him and that all pilots should try paramotoring: "It's a lot of fun!".
The present world champion is now seriously exploring Acro flying with a paramotor, a whole new world that keeps on expanding, and says he is not sure whether he will be in the Europeans this year or not, as there are many things he wants to do. All of them relate to flying, that's for sure!

[Interview © Ojovolador.com, Jan. 2006. All rights reserved]

Mathieu ready to launch with his new paramotor Pap Ros 125, and the camera attached to the helmet so that he won't miss anything!

Precise piloting: Mathieu's glider, a Viper, has a sensitive handling and it's very agile, which makes it a good companion for the closed turns and radical tricks that Mathieu likes to do. His Pap paramotor has a small harness and low hangpoint for maximum feeling and body control.

Mathieul enjoys exploring the limits of his aircraft. For this jump from a balloon he traveled from France to Caceres, in the south-west of Spain. Photo © Samir Elari.

Photo: Jose Luis Prada - 'Cheli'

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© Ojo Volador 2002-2006.
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Mathieu, how was your fist PPG flight?

I borrowed a GPX paramotor and flew it. I loved it! I flew alone for about a year, but then I decided it was time to get my license –it is illegal to fly without a license in France- and fly with some other people, learn more. Then, in 2002 I think, I entered my first French championship.

How did you like the competition?

I liked it a lot. It was like a game, a lot of fun! Then I met good friends to fly with, and we have fun together in every comp. It's a good adventure that we can share.

Before you became world champion, how were your results in competitions?

In the French nationals I've been 4th three times and one time 3rd. I'm better at international comps than in France! In France I'm more for the adventure; and with the French team we have a very good team spirit. We work for the team: if the group is strong we're individually strong –and we get good results.

Is the pilots' level high in the PPG competitions?

I have a short experience, I've only been to 3 international competitions, but I think the level is getting better and better. If more good paraglider pilots would fly paramotor the level would be much higher, because they start with a big advantage. I think all paraglider pilots should try it; they would be surprised at how much fun it is! Another good thing is that there's a very good spirit in the PPG competitions compared to paragliding comps, where everybody is more serious, more concentrated… In a day you can do maybe 3 or 4 tasks and they are all different. You never get bored!

Tell us about the gear you have been using –with which you took the world title…

I'm flying an Ozone Viper, which is a fast glider but very solid at speed, with trims open. I gave Ozone my feedback and opinion during the development and they tried to keep Ozone's signature in the handling –very agile and precise- with good performance and speed. So, it has a compromise between PPG and free flight, good for piloting. But it is not a glider for everybody, it has a good security level but it is very fast and it can dive quickly when you trim out. Ozone will sell it to confirmed PPG pilots, competition pilots. They will release a special PPG glider for a wider range of pilots, more commercial, called Roadster. Also with reflex profile, it is a new wing with a security level similar to the Rush's (DHV1-2) and a mix between a reflex and a free flight wing, with good handling. With Ozone we are trying to attract paraglider pilots to paramotoring, and for that you have to offer a feeling in the air that is similar to free flying.

And your paramotor?
Oh yes, very important! It is a Pap Top 80 with Dell'Orto carburetor, an additional fuel tank, smaller hoop and a special net that offers less drag. It has a small harness for a better feeling and low hangpoint, which is good for piloting. I like the Pap spirit, I feel very well with the motors and the people at the company. I'm now flying the new Ros 125 and I'm very happy with it too. A good machine!

How important is the gear for a good competition result?

I'd say that a 50% is in your mind, a 25% in the gear and a 25% is just luck. In competition the most important is to make no mistakes, to be cool.

What are your plans for this year: competitions, the European?

I have a PG school and I spend the season moving from one place to another to give advanced courses, and I give tandem flights in summer. This year I'd like to have more experience in more machines and do shows: Acro, fly with flags, balloon jumps with the glider, things like that. I'm not so much into competing, but I do want to go to the next Worlds in China, in 2007. I like my freedom…

Your last adventure took you to South Africa with the Ozone Team, how was that?

It was a very good experience and the people were great. The conditions were very strong for me but not for the locals, they said they were low! We were 15 people crossing the country, flying on the desert and some very good places for wagas. It was good fun!

Thank you, Mathieu. Is there anything else you want to add to this interview?

Yes, I want to say something about Johan Bossuyt (Belgian pilot who died recently). I didn't know him very well from the competitions but I had the chance to share with him in Korea and I had discovered that he would have become a very good friend. We'll all miss him.

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