Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Both Brad Sanchez (left) and Kevin Smith (right) have told how they weren’t trying to scare anyone as they glided over Doncaster on Sunday morning (Picture: supplied)

A paragliding duo who sparked panic that Hamas was invading Doncaster have apologised to anyone who might have been scared by their antics.

Kevin Smith, 61, only took up the thrill-seeking sport four months ago after a military career spanning over 40 years.

The former paratrooper was accompanied by computer programmer, Brad Sanchez, 26, who both learned to fly together.

Both Kev and Brad were blamed after a woman was left scared and confused on Sunday thinking the gliders were in fact terrorists deploying on Doncaster.

The unlikely pair said they never thought they would ever scare anyone as they took to the skies and were hoping to go and visit a Doncaster landmark.

At the weekend the pair were confused for members of Hamas, the terrorist group who used power hang gliders to launch an attack on the Supernova music festival in Israel on October 7, where hundreds were killed after they opened fire.

Flying teacher Ric Womersley (left) with Kevin Smith (right) (Picture: Northern Skies Paramotoring)

Ric Womersley (left) who runs the flying school with Brad Sanchez (right) who said he was up above Doncaster on Sunday morning.(Picture: Northern Skies Paramotoring)

An aerial view of Doncaster that the duo would have been able to see from the 1500ft above the ground they reached (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

According to reports from The Doncaster Free Press, a woman from Anthorpe got a scare, writing: ‘Whoever thought it was funny to parasail over the village, it was in extremely poor taste.

‘Take your twisted hatred somewhere else. 

‘There were two parachutes with engines like Hamas used at that festival, gave me a fright.’ 

The woman then went on to say that she thought the paragliders were performing ‘a scare tactic or protest’.

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One social media user commented on the video, saying: ‘Why would they attack Doncaster? ‘If they bombed it, it would look the exact same, with another saying ‘Hamas would take one look at Doncaster and prefer to go back to Gaza’.

Both Kev and Brad are relatively new to paramotoring – a sport that differs from paragliding as an engine is used along with their shoot.

They are members of a flying group called ‘Northern Skies Paramotoring’, based in Yorkshire, and are part of a team who regularly paraglides over the city. 

On Sunday morning the flying duo was heading for the now-closed Doncaster Sheffield Airport, which is home to a Vulcan bomber.

They hoped to get a glimpse of the jet-powered bomber that was used by the RAF from 1956 until 1984.

Kev, who now lives in Thirsk, and Brad from Pontefract, set off at around 10.30am and were up in the sky for just over an hour and a half.

The pair shared their flying route from the trip on Sunday morning (Picture: Brad Sanches)

Brad was spotted up in the skies above Doncaster by his friend who saw him from his bedroom window (Picture: Brad Sanches)

They set off from a strip of farmland near Snaith, before landing back down just before midday, climbing up to 1,500ft up into the sky, and getting as low as 600ft.

Kev told Metro.co.uk: ‘We’ve been training for months to be able to fly up in the sky like this and we never thought or even were worried that we would be scaring anyone.

‘We both do it because we love the buzz, I used to be a military parachute instructor and I’ve always loved getting my heart going and this really does the trick.

The ex-trooper – who had a fear of heights before joining the army – said he thinks the woman who spotted them in the sky over Doncaster might have seen them as they headed over the nearby racecourse.

He said he wanted to re-assure anyone who sees them in the skies over the coming days and said: ‘We’re not Hamas, and we don’t want to scare anyone or upset anyone who might think we are.

Brad said: ‘Whenever there is a day you can go you just have to go, and if you delay the opportunity then it could be weeks before you go back up again.

‘There is something about the skies that are free from everything, it’s not like flying a plane you just get a beautiful view of the country we live in.

The newly qualified flyer has said he loves being up in the sky and wants to reassure people they don’t want to hurt anyone (Picture: Brad Sanchez)

Both Kev and Brad could be seen taking to the skies above Doncaster (Picture: Brad Sanches)

‘The peacefulness, it’s also man’s desire to fly and I think it’s just really going through with that.

‘I just enjoy it I have no reason why. It’s going to be a while until we get back up again because of the weather.

‘The next day that is flyable then we will go up there.

‘We’re just trying to enjoy the sport and we are sorry to anyone we’ve upset.

‘I can only apologise to the woman, I understand that right now that’s all that’s on the news and there is a lot of fear that does get embedded in people.

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‘At the end of the day, it’s just me, Kev, and the others at the club, we’ve never wanted to hurt anyone.

‘We just want to reassure everyone that we’re just doing what we love, it’s just nice.

‘I totally understand the fears that some people have at the minute but we just don’t want to get a bad name and want to reassure people we just love flying and being in the sky.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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