It began with a little idea – what if Pál Takáts could take his paramotor over the most iconic symbol of Japan: Mount Fuji? Could it be done? Would the stars align and allow this somewhat-spontaneous idea to become a reality.
Flying commercially with paramotor gear is illegal on most airlines, but with his paramotor gear being shipped by freight for the Red Bull Air Race in Chiba, Takáts saw an opportunity that might not otherwise exist.
“Once I confirmed doing Red Bull Air Race Chiba [as a side act], I began instantly thinking of ideas. My original idea was to walk up and fly down, but then realised it was not the right time seasonally,” he said.
Takáts did his best to prepare by studying Google Maps and the local weather, but even then he was left holding his breath. Would his paramotor gear be all in one place, would the weather window be open, would he find someone to help him on the ground with getting to Fuji beach? Answer is: yes, he would.
I was standing in the Munich airport, looking at the weather, and saw that the only weather window was for when I arrived in Japan – I thought: ‘Oh man! Here we go!’
Once all of his gear was organised and he was on the beach (with help from his friend, Yoshiki Kuremoto), he was ready to take off and head over the active volcano. This was when he finally realised that this was actually going to happen – that his little spontaneous idea was a reality.
However, when Takáts took off, he saw that the potential landing fields on Google Maps were actually flooded rice paddies and deep forests. Trusting his paramotor engine, he also used the natural morning thermal bubbles to climb safely to the top of Mount Fuji.
“I had never been this high before. I had climbed to 3700m in California, but Mount Fuji is 3,770m,” he commented.
But once Takáts had reached the top, all of the daunting ‘what ifs’ disappeared. Here he finally was, looking into the great volcanic crater of Japan's most famous mountain.
“The most magical moment was reaching the top of the crater and looking in. I have never before been near a volcano like this.”
The air was thin and cold, but Takáts climbed to the incredible height of 4210m whilst taking in the sights at the crater.
Travelling back to Fuji Beach and the Pacific Ocean, Takáts happily soared over the wild forests and rice paddies. After an hour and 45 minutes, he reached the beach and was able to take in the views of Mount Fuji – however the clouds around the peak were already forming and the rain was beginning to fall. The weather window had officially closed, but now he had officially accomplished his dream.