Spread Your Wings….and Fly!
If you have always envied the birds for being able to soar in the skies, here’s how you can do it too. Learn paragliding to be able to experience the thrill of free flying or just sign up for a ‘tandem flight’ with any of the paragliding schools in Maharashtra.
What Is Paragliding?
Imagine standing atop a hill, overlooking a valley and wondering what it would feel like to fly. Paragliding is the closest humans can get to the feeling of flying without relying on any motor-driven machinery. You simply lay out the paraglide canopy on a hillside or mountain, lift it over your head like a kite using the power of the oncoming wind, run a few steps into the wind and before you know it you have stepped off into the sky. Once in the air, a pilot is able to maintain and even gain altitude using lifting air currents and thermals.
Paragliding can be done only in favourable wind conditions. The right wind speed and right wind direction are extremely important. When you learn paragliding, the instructor teaches you to assess the wind conditions. He also teaches you to take the right decisions – to fly or not to fly – depending on the wind power.
Is Paragliding For Me?
Everyone who has ever dreamt of flying free must experience paragliding at least once in a lifetime. There are two ways of enjoying paragliding. The first and the easiest is to opt for a ‘tandem flight’. Here all that one needs to do is to sit in the harness and enjoy flying while the expert pilot takes care of all the hassles of flying safely. You can enjoy the flight, the view, the thrill and the adrenaline rush. If you are a courageous one, the pilot may show you some acrobatic maneuvers before you touch down. You can even take photos during your flight – your first flying experience deserves a place on your Facebook profile, doesn’t it?
The other way is to learn this art of flying. And for this you need time, patience and the die-hard will to fly. There is no age limit to this adventure sport but it is recommended that you possess the maturity required to respect the risks involved. Since the equipment relies on human and wind power, it is important to respect the equipment and the wind conditions. Paragliding is more about finesse than fitness, more about skill than strength. Thus, being physically and mentally alert and prepared is of great importance. Despite this fact, there are some health checks you must run yourself through before taking up paragliding as an adventure sport.
- Are you able to jog and run without losing breath?
- Are you able to walk up the hill with ease?
- Are you diagnosed with any heart ailments or asthma or epilepsy? Then you better give up all ideas of paragliding. It is simply not safe!
- Are you blessed with a peripheral sense of vision, distance and judgement?
- Are you aware of the risks involved?
- Do you possess the ability to take reasonable decisions?
- Do you have the patience to wait for ideal weather conditions? No instant gratification here!
- And above all, do you have the will to fly?
How Safe Is It?
Personal judgement and possessing the right attitude are of utmost importance. If you follow the instructions of your instructor while learning, paragliding is as safe as the pilot in command. It is as safe as you want it to be.
Usually, accidents occur when the pilot gets too sure of himself and decides to challenge his or her limits without enough expertise. Another reason is choosing equipment that requires higher skill-sets than what one possesses.
What’s The Equipment Like?
When you go to a flying school, they provide the equipment that suits you. No special attire is required, but it is recommended you wear full-length pants and shoes with good ankle support.
Can Paragliding Be Done Atop Any Hill?
The answer is ‘No’. There are specific locations identified as ideal spots for paragliding. When the wind direction is exactly perpendicular to the hill, the location may be called an ideal setting. In case of Maharashtra, paragliding is fast gaining popularity. This region often enjoys steady wind and the resulting consistency makes it possible to conduct paragliding almost all round the year, except in the rainy season. Kamshet, near Pune, is one of the most sought-after spots for paragliding. Owing to its suitable weather conditions, paragliders from all over the world converge here to enjoy an exhilarating experience of paragliding. The area expands enormously, thus providing smooth sailing in the air.
Is Paragliding a Recreational Activity?
There can be no other hobby that provides such perfect relaxation as paragliding. The ultimate bliss enjoyed in the skies amidst the clouds is a perfect unwind. Training schools also offer joyrides for those not interested in taking up paragliding professionally.
How do I Choose a Good Training School?
It is always advisable to first talk to the chief flying instructor to clear all your doubts regarding flying, safety and the risks involved in this sport. This dialogue will also give you a fair idea of what to expect. Additionally:
- When selecting a school for paragliding instruction, first make sure that the school is registered with the FAI (Federation Aeronautic International) or APPI International (Association of Professional Pilots & Instructors, Switzerland).
- Make sure the instructors have international pilot licenses issued by APPI International or FAI.
- Make sure the instructors have relevant qualifications and ample experience.
- Check the safety record of the school and of the instructors.
- Also, check the number of students the school has taught till date and how many have gone on to receive licenses and certifications per year.
- A good school is one that offers wider range of courses, right from basic to the most advanced level training.
Paragliding Training Schools
Here are a few of the reputed training schools near Pune and Mumbai.
TEMPLE PILOTS, KAMSHET:
FLY NIRVANA, KAMSHET:
INDUS PARAGLIDING, MUMBAI:
The source of above information and more information about other flying schools and flight sites in India may be found on the website: www.appifly.org.