Paragliding is essentially a foot launched aero sport in which the Paraglider ‘Pilot’ uses a ‘Paraglider canopy’ to take off from a mountain slope or from a flat ground using a winch, glides through the air climbing at times to the cloud base using ‘Thermals’ eventually ‘landing’ on a flat ground. Being both a recreational and competitive sport, Paragliding has gained immense popularity and growth in India in the last decade or so. Paragliding is perhaps the simplest and by far the most economical way to take to the skies, soar over the mountains and lakes like a bird without engines using only the wind movement to stay aloft to enjoy sunsets from a totally different perspective and so on…the rewards are immense.
There are several schools in India that have been training paraglider pilots since nearly two decades located mainly in Kamshet/Pune/Mumbai area in Maharashtra and in Bir, Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh. There are a few other new outfits that are operational in a other locations as well. Most of the schools are part of the PAI as affiliates and follow tried, tested and established methods of teaching laying emphasis on both Theory and Practical. These schools also follow PAI’s National Paraglider Pilot Rating System.
This depends on the individual pilot, the methodology of the school chosen, number of hours of flying under supervision and the training level achieved. It is advisable and sensible to follow the recommendations and advice of the instructors in this regard. The Training is divided into levels ranging from P1 to P5. While P1 and P2 basic/intermediate level of school flying with P3/P4 being the intermediate/Advanced levels leading to independent flying without supervision. Sometime before you start flying on your own you go and do an SIV course that teaches you how to manage your wing during incidents like big and small collapses, stalls, spins
etc. Listen to your instructor and you will get there !
There are so many possibilities once the pilot is independent. There is coastal ridge soaring which is pretty delightful and soothing thanks to the laminar airflow over the beaches. Then comes Cross Country Flying which involves a lot of planning, strategy and thermalling skills to stay aloft and go distances. Did you know that the longest flight in India is 25X km and the world record is over 500km? We also have many of pilots who opt for Acro or acrobatic flying which requires further learning and mastering of acrobatic manoeuvres and routines. Once can also learn and practice recreational or commercial tandem paragliding which involves flying a
There are numerous competitions all over the globe ranging from Regional Open Competitons to World Cups/ Pre-World Cups. These are governed by International bodies like the FAI and CIVL. The points won in these competitions determine the pilots global as well as domestic ranking. The competitions are either testing the pilots Cross Country or XC skills or the pilot’s ability to land on a pre determined spot known as Spot Landing or Paragliding Accuracy. A number of Accuracy and XC events are organised in different locations in India as well.