Land, Air, and Sea by Motorcycle

By Jaime Bonet, EAA 1256901

Dear EAA friends,

My name is Jaime and I am from Mallorca Island, Spain.

I have been an EAA member since 2017, and I work as an Airbus A320/A330 pilot and am a TRI-TRE instructor and examiner for EASA.

For me it is an honour and a privilege after more than 20 years flying jets to be an instructor and to have the possibility to transmit all my knowledge to new pilots from so many countries.

I grew up in a very humble family and my father had a farm with 25 cows to produce milk on the island of Mallorca , and it was very difficult to get the money to pay for a professional pilot career. I didn’t have any reference to aviation where I lived or anyone close to my family who was a pilot, with which I tell you with total certainty that I was born to be an airplane pilot, because since I was a child it is the only thing I wanted to be and it was a very difficult road to get to my goal.

In the moments that I have free time, my passions are extreme sports: paramotor flying, paragliding, ultralight flying, jet flying, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and I love motorcycles more than anything.

In any of the sports that I practice I like to design and develop them (I+D). Thanks to the fact that at the age of 10 I started small model airplanes, that has given me all my life an incredible ease of viewing and creating and working manually with anything that I want to create, in addition to the fact that model airplanes allowed me to love aviation until I became a pilot.

At the age of 16 I already had AeroModeller magazine in my home with the plans for the Minimax ultralight and mountains of aviation magazines, and even today I still fall in love with seeing the airplanes that people like me enjoy designing and building.

Since I became a professional pilot I have spent more than 14,000 hours in airplanes and in my flight case there has always been a motorcycle magazines, aviation magazines and windsurf-kite magazines.

This year I have achieved something unique, which had not been done before in history — flying, driving along the beach, and crossing the sea with the same motorcycle, joining three elements in a row.

This prototype is made with a Kawasaki KX, and I have called it Project X3 since with it I have been able to enjoy it on land, sea, and air.

I started designing it when I was working as a pilot in Vietnam in 2014, where I was able to enjoy doing enduro and motocross there with the Vietnamese. I left that country with a nice memory of winning the Lucas Oil Vietnamese motocross championship in 2014 with a Kawasaki 450.

The same year I started wanting to make myself a mix of dirt bike and windsurfing. The stunt dirtbike legend Robbie Maddison’s video surfing with his motocross bike hadn’t even come out yet, and when the video The Pipe Dream was released, I put my project on hold for several years. 

I realized that I was not the only one who had dreamed of these things, and I thought that it was no longer necessary to build something similar because with the support of Red Bull behind it, the Robbie Maddison’s new prototype would advance quickly.

After seeing that the Maddison design did not change much, over the years I realized that they were stuck in that design and I decided to follow my own initial idea that I had stopped for years.

I ordered a Paddle Dominator tire from Skat-Track in the U.S., just like the Maddison tire.

From then on, my KX3 motorcycle was created, in the James Burt Munro style, when he customized his Indian motorcycle, and it is the style that I like — classic and as if the motorcycle had a soul. 

I used only the things that I had in my garage and with the help of my friends in Ses Salines, the town where I was born and where I live in Mallorca, we have worked on the bike in all its workshops.

I have my own design system, and don’t use a computer to design.

I do some very basic drawing or sketching and when I look at it, I try to make it work in my head. If it works well in my head, it’s never very far from it working in reality.

The table that I have used has been a Naish windsurf, and I transformed it and adapted it to the motorcycle.

Miguel Sampol, my mechanic since I have had a motorcycle, SB Performance, and also Composites Ses Salines and Metalurgicas Ses Salines are the ones who have helped me the most from the beginning in this project and in the adaptations.

Before doing the test and trying the bike in the sea, I made a small channel of 20 meters with my Bobcat and filled it with water from the pool to have my own test bench at home. Between the sensations when entering the channel with the bike when hitting the water and a GoPro camera, I was able to analyze errors and improve the board and the water deflectors.

During the tests in the channel, there were several crashes and accidents, but I was well protected and equipped with my Airoh Aviator helmet. Airoh is the brand name of the Italian manufacturer of helmets for motorcycles. 

My mentality from the beginning for the prototype was to create a system that would allow me to float and not lose the bike in case of accident in the sea. I used the windsurf board to make the performance and adapt to the Kawasaki and I built a very effective emergency system with a bodyboard cut in two parts and pre-tensioned.

It works very well, but it was not necessary to use it for emergency on real test of the bike.

The first test in the sea went perfect, without any errors and without any previous experience. It was a full adrenaline moment for me. I entered the sea directly without knowing how to drive the motorcycle and I was only clear that I would never remove my hand from full throttle.

I had to hang on it, almost like on a racing bike if I wanted to turn and I needed to move my body a lot with each bounce, but at the end I found the right position and I was able to enjoy it, with the adrenaline rushing.

The conversion of the motorcycle, removing the two-stroke engine and converting it to an electric motorcycle, I did with my friend Miguel Salas from Dielecma with whom we have previously created some projects together. 

He is an expert in electronics and electricity and my trusted person for the electrical issue. The electrical system is very simple and we have reduced the weight by 20 kg compared to the original weight of the bike. The actual batteries last about 15 min, just the time calculated for our tests. Most importantly, we no longer pollute in the event of an incident at sea.

To be honest, I love both worlds, electric motors and four-stroke engines, and I’m sure there must be a possibility to enjoy both performances, now and in the future. When I managed to make videos of the motorcycle at sea, I met with a manager of professional athletes to show him some videos and to find out what we could do with this project.

What is clearer to me from that conversation is that no one knew me and that was a factor that brands take into account when sponsoring. He told me that we could call Jonathan Rea (six-time world champion in superbikes with Kawasaki), so that I could adapt a board to his motorcycle for an amount of money.

Since Jonathan Rea is a Kawasaki multi-champion, it is an honor that I was offered an opportunity like that. But that was not the answer I expected. I took a firm decision that my project will not be for another athlete, nor for another country, nor for money.

It will be a product from Spain and a Mallorca Island product. This project success will stay at home because I knew really well the risks and work involved in this project.

As a result of the visit to that manager, I saw the reality, and I realized that I would have to do something more extreme, and decided that the project was not finished. I said to myself “I will fly.”

I set myself another goal, which I knew for sure that no one in history had been able to put together until now — the same motorcycle by land, by sea and by air — and designed, created, and tested by the same person .

The decision was made that I would fly with the motorcycle too, so I started to work on it.

I did some CG calculations with the bike hanging from an olive tree on a fantastic sunny day in Mallorca, and designed some special pieces to give stability in flight, and to correct the paramotor torque.

I did three test flights and through two Insta360 cameras I was able to correct the errors later, since these cameras allowed me to analyze from all angles.

Even so, there was some big crashes on the first takeoffs , and the PAP chassis protected me very well, but with two broken propellers, I considered stopping with the idea of flying.

The takeoff is definitely the hardest part of all, as I was steering the bike with my feet, and sitting on the bike at a height of one meter is very unstable when the 42-square-meter wing is inflated. With 40 kilos of paramotor on the back it is very unstable. 

I put two small support wheels to help on the beginning of the takeoff, but even so, it’s very difficult. The truth is that after that, flying the bike is very stable, and the landing is not very difficult either.

The paraglider that I used is from the Niviuk brand, model Takoo 5. This paraglider was sponsored by Niviuk Paragliders to do a job with my friend and world-renowned photographer Pep Bonet. When they let us out of the lockdown period in 2020, we flew for National Geographic photographic work and after that we flew in my tandem paramotor together around all the Balearic Islands photographing them in infrared. We will release a book with all the photographs of infrared photos of Mallorca from the sky this year.

The paramotor with the PAP chassis and Vitorazzi Moster 185 engine and the Niviuk sail that I used for the photographic project I used also to fly with the motorcycle, taking advantage of the material that I already had. I used only what I had in my garage for the motorcycle project, so the budget for this project has been very small.

Since 2020, it has been two very complicated years where we have had to adapt to many changes, and in my case I have found the time to do high-level projects that I could not do before  due to lack of time, when I was flying a lot in the airline.

I have in mind to beat some world records that I can achieve if sponsors come out, and I have very clear ideas of some projects that are much more brutal than this one but in another level of investment. So I keep motivated and am ready for the next challenges.

There are many professional extreme sport athletes in the world, but it is very complicated without being linked to a strong brand and sponsored to be able to achieve something like what I achieved. It’s even more difficult to achieve it with the means and only material that I had in my garage. 

I am more than satisfied.

The basis to achieve something like this is persistence and there are times when you would stop to continue with the project, but you have to believe in yourself, and if you believe in yourself, then you complete the dream that most of people will only dream of.

Every time I see any EAA video on YouTube and read and see the aviators and airplanes in EAA Sport Aviation, I remember the feeling that motivated me to become a professional pilot when I was a kid. Thanks to EAA, The Spirit of Aviation is alive.

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