Fly as a bird in a foot-launched aircraft

Flying like a free bird in the air is not impossible any more, all one needs to do is grab your paragliding kit and set yourself out in the limitless sky, over viewing the enchanting beauty of the world that god created underneath the blue velvet carpet called the sky.

Paragliding is relatively new to India but it is definitely very popular amongst the adventure sports lovers. It is not just a recreational sport that you relish in the guidance of an expert for a span of ten minutes or half an hour, when you are on a vacation, but instead it has achieved the importance and seriousness of a career option and profession.

A Para glider is often known as a foot-launched aircraft that falls in the category of un-powered fixed-wing aircraft. The basic requirement for making a Para glider is an arc of nylon cloth shaped aerodynamically. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing and the complicated looking suspension lines and air pressure entering the vents in front of the wing helps the glider form its shape. After having gone through a rigorous pre-flight checking the pilot runs down a slope. The cloth canopy bloats up and comes overhead and within no time the pilot becomes air borne. 30 manipulating suspension lines control the entire flying process of the glider.

One often gets confused between Paragliding and parasailing but one basic difference in both is that you are your own pilot in the former whereas you are in the parachute attached to a tug boat in the later. A mountainous terrain is required for Paragliding whereas Parasailing is usually done on a beach.

The following places are often known to be the Paragliding havens in India:

Himachal Pradesh
• Billing (near Palampur)
• Solang valley (near Manali)
• Bijli Bandla ridge, near Bilaspur
• Intkali in Pabbar valley
• Shimla, and Dyar
• Bijli Mahadev in the Kullu Valley
• Some other paragliding sites are located in the Trans-Himalayan region of Himachal such as Lahaul & Spiti, Arhaul-Anu near Rohru and Garhalla Talab in Chopal in Shimla district.

Uttaranchal
• Naukutchiyatal in Nainital
• Dayara Bugyal (Uttarkashi-Gangotri road)
• Pratap Nagar
• Dhanolti Ridge in Garhwal
• Bedni Bugyal in Kumaon

Rajasthan
• Jaipur
• Jaisalmer
• Jodhpur
• Udaipur
• Bikaner
• Kota

Maharashtra
• Matheran (near Mumbai)
• Deolali (near Mumbai)
• Mahabaleshwar (near Pune)
• Singhgad (near Pune)
• Panchgani (near Pune)
• Kamshet near Khandala

South India
• Blue Mountains in Ooty,
• Karnataka,
• Munnar & Elavizha Poonchira,
• Vaggamon in Kerala,
• Kodaikanal in Karnataka.

Those who are interested in choosing paragliding as a profession, there are loads of schools and academies where one can go through a rigorous training before coming out as a fully trained Para glider. Almost all of them offer the following courses:

P1 Level Paragliding Course (Beginners)

This is a basic course, where you learn some safety tips, theory and ground handling. It is usually a three to four day course. The cost varies from Rs. 8000-12,000. You fly under the direct supervision of your instructors (on radio) in this course.

P2 Level Paragliding Course (Novice)
P2 level course includes a little more advanced takeoff and flying techniques like reverse launch are taught and it also includes more flying time. You also learn some practice maneuvers, altitude judgments and ridge airing. This is a 4 to 5 day course, which costs approximately Rs. 8000-12,000.

P3 Level Paragliding Course (Intermediate)

After having completed 25 or more logged flights, you can take your P3 level paragliding course. This course teaches even more advanced techniques of flying like thermal soaring, cross country, and other such advanced maneuvers. It is a 3 to 4 day course that also costs approximately Rs 8000 – 12,000.

So set yourself out and free and experience the world of this competitive but yet adventurous method of flying.

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About Shreya Arora

Media Trainee at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, final year. Aspiring to be a Journalist.

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