02-03-2022

Petra: flying above the lost city for the first time in history

The passion for flying has reached Petra. Known as the lost city or the city carved in stone, this important archaeological site in Jordan has seen four paramotors and 15 hot-air balloons fly over it for the first time in history.

This historic milestone was instigated by Sebastián Fernández, a hot air balloon and paramotor pilot, who fell in love with the Jordanian landscapes when he was working as a pilot in the Wadi Rum desert. "I had the opportunity to fly over the desert with my Kougar wing in 2012 and I was speechless to see such an impressive site. Suddenly I had an overwhelming desire to fly in a balloon or with a paramotor over the lost city of Petra," says the pilot.

Flying around Wadi Rum

Since then, the idea of an adventure over Petra has remained in his mind. But it is only now that he has been able to do so. It all started with a call from Jordan, where he was asked if his company Globus Barcelona could collaborate in the organisation of a new event in Wadi Rum. Sebastián did not hesitate to committing himself, but not without the condition that he could also make a free flight over Petra, something that had never been done previously. 

"Flying in the famous Wadi Rum desert is an unforgettable experience, it feels like you are flying on Mars," he explains, having flown for three days over the scenery used in countless adventure films, such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) or The Martian (2015).

But the spectacular aridity of Wadi Ram was an added bonus, as his main goal was to be able to see Petra from the air. To facilitate this, he met with the local political and military authorities, as well as with UNESCO officials, since the city is a World Heritage Site. They eventually gave permission. 

Making history

With permission to proceed, it was now time to plan the flight. A number of Spanish, French, English and Dutch pilots joined the adventure. "The task was not easy," Sebastián explains. "The most complicated thing was to plan the route for the hot air balloons, as they can only go up and down, their direction is determined by the wind. It was therefore very important to locate a suitable take-off area so that the wind would carry them towards Petra, and not in the opposite direction. 

In the end, the best launch site was a valley next to Little Petra, north of it, where both balloons and paramotors could easily take off. After an hour and a half's flight, five balloons marked the way and landed inside the lost city. Meanwhile the paramotors continued on their journey and were able to enjoy a unique and spectacular flight over Petra. 

The spirit of adventure: Niviuk follows in the steps of Indiana Jones

Amongst others, Niviuk pilot Ramón Morillas also took part. Together with his wife, Emiko Morota, who is also a paramotor pilot, he has been planning to visit the great wonders and monuments of the world for years. The Lost City of Petra was one of them, especially motivated by the adventures of Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones character that they had watched so many times on the big screen. 

"Without expecting it, we were invited on this trip. It was wonderful. The landscape is simply breathtaking. The whole area is extremely eroded limestone rock, which reminds me of the Torcal de Antequera (Málaga, Spain), but in a big, gigantic way. And the best thing is that in the middle of all that rock, when you least expect it, there are excavations of temple façades made by ancient local civilisations. It really impressed me. It conveys an immense majesty," says Ramón. "When I landed, the first thing that I did was to tell my wife what a wonderful flight it had been. Especially since we did it together. To make this idea we have had in our heads for so many years a reality was very gratifying," concludes Ramón.

Now that he has achieved one of his main goals, Sebastián is thrilled to say that "the feeling of being able to fly and land in Petra was spectacular and extremely satisfying". Not content with this, "now it's time to keep working so that next year we can return with Globus Barcelona and make this experience even more incredible". In his mind, Petra is no longer lost, but always present. 

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