In August 2016 Hugo and Ross Turner (better known as The Turner Twins) successfully became the first people to journey to the Australian Pole of Inaccessibility (the Australian Red Pole), using Paramotors.
Starting on the southern coast of Australia near Adelaide, the Turner Twins journeyed 1,600kms over unforgiving, remote deserts and mountains of the Outback before finally finishing 300kms North-West of Alice Springs in an area of Australia known as the Red Centre. The trip, which raised fund for the Wings for Life Charity, took eighteen days to complete.
So I take it you’re experienced flyers? Or was this a Peter-Pan crash course in flight?
In the UK, if you are flying a foot-launched aircraft you don’t need a pilot’s licence. It’s as simple as buying a paramotor and running off a hill!
The Australian law is very much stricter with all pilots needing a paramotor licence and a visitor’s pilots licence if you’re not a resident. To get a pilot’s licence takes time and many hours in the air. We had enough hours and experience to pass our pilots exam but whenever you fly somewhere new you’re always going to be learning new things – whether that’s your environment, flying conditions or your own skill level in that moment.
A flight like this wouldn’t be possible without flying experience.
Flying over the outback must have been something special. What will be the greatest memories from this adventure?
There were many amazing moments on the expedition. One that really sticks in the mind was flying around Mt Connor after we had successfully found the Red Pole. We planned to fly around this amazing rock but having been told that Uluru/Ayres Rock and The Olgas Rocks were over 100kms away we didn’t even think we could see them from the air. Once we decided to turn around and head for ‘home’ we saw the most incredible sight: Both Uluru/Ayres Rock and The Olgas Rocks over 100kms away. I can’t begin to tell you how stunning it was. The picture doesn’t do it justice.
And the juicy stuff – what went wrong?!
We planned the expedition for over a year and this time was spent looking through details that would make or break the trip – weather, track conditions, air law etc. Everything went according to plan until we landed near the Red Pole to start our search for it. From 1500ft the ground looked like it was covered in grass but when Hugo came into land he realised that the grass was in fact much bigger – six to eight foot much bigger. We had landed in a small forest of high bushes. Not cool when you’re landing or taking off with paramotor wings!
Have you done trips like this before?
This was our first flying expedition but our fifth large-scale expedition.
So have you both always been hardcore adventurers?
We have always had a thing for adventure and the great outdoors. We grew up on Dartmoor which is a large National Park in the South West of England. It has extreme weather and terrain. It was perfect for us growing up and that really helped us build into what we are doing today.
What’s your inspiration for these kind of trips? What drives you to undertake them?
Hugo broke his neck when he was seventeen and ever since then we have wanted to give something back to people less fortunate than him. Apart from the bonus of seeing some amazing parts of the world through what we do, which is still inspiring, it’s important that we remember why we do what we do in the first place. Hugo could have easily been wheelchair bound so giving and raising funds for charity makes the work we do all the more important.
As twins, the connection between the two of you is incredibly strong. I guess this can work both ways on trips like this; the good, bad and ugly. What are your thoughts? Any mid-air dog-fights?
We have our moments back in the UK for sure. The odd argument here and there but when we are on an expedition we very rarely fight or argue. There just isn’t the time or the space. The pressures of an expedition are easily felt and to add an argument or strong disagreement into the mix can and has ripped teams apart. If we have something that needs saying, we briefly talk about it, shake hands and move on. It’s a simple way of keeping us and the team together.
How do your individual skills differ on adventures like the Red Pole?
We go through all the same training for each trip so we should be equal but a lot of the time one of us develops a particular skill quicker than the other. This isn’t a bad thing as having a stronger skill set in one area is beneficial to the other twin. On the Australian Red Pole expedition, Hugo was more controlled and skilled at take-off whereas I was better at judging the landing zone and landing in a smaller space. It’s always nice to have something or someone to chase.
What’s next for the Turner Twins?
Now we have the paramotors we can use them again for another flying expedition. What that is yet, we’re not sure but it will be another world first. Not because of the ‘fame’ but because it pushes the boundary of what’s possible. This sort of thing gets very addictive as you learn that whatever you want to do in life you can achieve. You just need to put time and effort into achieving it.
Crazy desert happenings…